Many moons ago, I was eager to say goodbye to my 20s and enter into the next decade. I had always appeared older than I was, especially after graduating college early and entering the workforce on fire to get things done.
I had skipped some of the more typical 20s behavior and replaced it with marriage and a baby, and always felt like I was an old soul. I was sure my 30s were going to be the best; when I'd truly start to feel like the person I always was, and that I would have it all figured out.
Needless to say, that wasn't the case.
I now find myself smack dab in the middle of my 30s, reflecting on what's behind and what's to come, just shrugging my shoulders. Being in your mid-30s is just plain odd, and no one warned me about this.
It used to feel like everyone was going through the same life stages, but now we're all over the place. I have some friends who are unmarried, living their best and most glamorous lives, and others of us who are raising kids between infant and high-school senior. Our common languages no longer where we're planning to vacation, but what we've been watching on Netflix.
Our own kids are smack dab in the middle, and I find myself starting to repeating cliches about how "it's all going so fast," and telling friends with babies to "enjoy this time."
I remember my parents very clearly at the same age I am now, and they were so old to me. Parents wore practical shoes, never went on vacation without us, drove minivans and talked about retirement funds. Now here I am, wearing sneakers, driving a mom-mobile, feel guilty when I think about leaving the kids behind for a weekend and am excited to talk about refinancing our mortgage to a lower rate. I don't know how to get on TikTok, but Facebook is my jam.
I've now been a professional for more than 15 years, and while I love what I'm doing, I often wonder just exactly how I got here. What happened to my dreams of starting a wedding planning business (inspired by J.Lo) or a cupcake bakery (inspired by the 2000s)?
The truth is I'm older and wiser and know the answers — event planning makes me tired, and I can't bake — but the fact that I know these truths bums me out a little.
And that's the paradox of the mid-30s. We know who we are, but aren't quite sure where we are going. There are days it is so clear; where revelations about our core values come to us in pure bolts of lightning. But then there are days where we just want to go to our parent's house and take a nap on their couch. We've started to think back on the "glory days" of our 20s, grateful to not have to live our mistakes again, but also secretly wish we weren't too tired to stay out past 11 p.m.
The mid-30s are a strange time, but I'm grateful to now at least have the wisdom to look at my parents and think "gosh they're young."