1.14.2016

Thirty-Four

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It happened. That moment when you realize you are officially old. Not arthritis-and-orthopedic-shoes old but definitely not part of the young crowd anymore. I think it happens to everyone at some point in life and typically it revolves around the current slang. You hear a term (or read it online) and think you know what it means. Until you proceed to use it in real life in a wildly inappropriate way. And then it happens. A light bulb appears over your head (and because you are now officially old it's probably a vintage-type Edison bulb, if not a kerosene lamp) and it clicks. You're not young & hip anymore. You've entered a new era. A new sphere of 'cool' where twenty-somethings fear to tread.

For me, the downfall of my youthfulness was 'Netflix and chill.'

I naively thought it meant exactly what it sounds like it means - relaxing on the couch and watching Netflix. I even used it in reference to my own son, that's how convinced I was of the innocent meaning.

"What are you doing today?" "I don't know, probably just taking it easy. Netflix and chill with the baby."

Um...

Apparently that doesn't mean what I thought it meant and as soon as I realized that, I realized something much more terrifying. I'm no longer in tune with current pop culture slang. I truly do not know what the cool kids are saying these days. And the fact that I even described it that way just further emphasizes my extreme lack of hipness.

And yet, I don't feel old enough for that yet. I don't feel like a 34-year old, which after yesterday is exactly what I am now.

There was a time not too long ago in my life when I thought 34 sounded so much ... older. Not old, but definitely older. More mature, more content, wiser. Someone who was 34 must be set in life. Career solidly on track, personal life in order. Freedom and stability coexisting in a smooth and balanced life. Someone who was 34 basically had their ish together.

And yet, here I am, 34 and not feeling like I fit the idea of what I thought 34 would look like. My business is doing well and as I enter year 5 I have big plans for taking things in a new direction. It's a path that I know will lead to growth, expansion, and a bit more creative freedom. And while that looks "on track" from the outside, on the inside, in the thick of things, I feel like the to-do list is neverending and balance is nowhere in sight.

We've settled in to a nice routine in our family life, too, but saying things are "in order" seems like such a lie. Again, from the outside things look great. We have a cozy little apartment in a beautiful city, our baby is happy, healthy, and loved beyond measure, and though our relationship is different now that baby makes three, we are stronger than ever before and more in love today than when we first got married. And yet figuring out parenting and working from home, plus finding time for myself and time for The Husband, feels like a constant juggling routine with every ball just on the brink of crashing down and rolling out of reach.

But maybe that's the trick of it. Maybe the key to growing older isn't to eliminate all challenges but to tackle them head-on with confidence, strength, and love, knowing - really knowing, not just hoping - that things will work out. Because with all those years of adulting now under your belt, you know from true experience that it will work out. Maybe 34 looked so mature, content, and wise precisely because 20 or 24 or 27 were not, but you survived all those stages nonetheless. Even thrived in them. And come out stronger because of them. Maybe 34 isn't about finally being carefree and balanced, but about knowing in the very core of your being that none of those cares and challenges can bring you down.

I may be too old to know what the cool kids are saying these days but I do know enough to know this - I don't really care. I may not feel like I have my ish together yet but I'm not as bothered by growing older as I thought I'd be at 20 or 24 or 27 and that's pretty awesome. Maybe 34 won't so bad after all.

xo

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