With age comes knowledge. As I approach my 36th birthday, I realize I am a lot smarter now than I was at 26 but also have a lot to learn still. That’s part of the life lessons that come with age.
Eighteen years ago, I stood in the sloped, gravel driveway of my parents’ house, talking to my best friend. My younger brother, who was just shy of two, played nearby. My sister was months away from being born. And as we stood there, two young women imagining our futures, we mused about how old we’d be when both my siblings would be in the same place we were: graduating high school, preparing for college, ready for adulthood.
God, it felt old. So incredibly old.
To my 18-year-old self, looking nearly two decades ahead, it was greying hair, mortgages, loans, bills and a complete loss of style. It was careers and two weeks of vacation, a loss of freedom and a bevy of responsibility. The very thought of being 36 was terrifying.
In my imagining, I never expected that I would have two kids, live in Maine and have a job I love. I thought I knew it all, but really there was so much I didn’t know.
Yep — Many of the ideas I had can be true. Mortgages can feel like shackles, bills can be a great burden and you’ll never have the same freedom you did as a teen. And style? That’s subjective. Let’s not even go there. But it’s naive to only see the responsibilities of adulthood without the rewards. Nothing in life is that black and white.
Sure, buying a house is a significant responsibility — both practically and financially. Beyond the cost, there are repairs, maintenance, lawns to mow, driveways to plow and counters to clean. But owning a home is also an amazing thing. It’s a place that you can make your own inside and out. Decorate it, love it, enjoy it, live in it. It’s yours.
And, yes, paying bills sucks, but earning enough to do so comfortably while also saving money is pretty awesome. Money isn’t everything, but having the means to live a good life that you enjoy is wonderful. And having the means to give your children a good life is even more wonderful.
As for working, while you can’t ever go back to the carefree days of childhood, finding the right career is soul-filling. It brings meaning and purpose to your life. That’s what writing and journalism has always been for me.
I thought 36 would be boring. Old. Horrible. But’s it’s not. It’s good.
At 36, I know that there’s so much I don’t know, and I love that. There’s always more to learn — and I never want to stop learning, evolving and growing as a person. That keeps life interesting. Beyond that, there’s a whole world to explore, both right here where we live and around the globe. There’s nothing boring about that.
If I could tell my 18-year-old self anything, it’s that 36 isn’t old. It isn’t even sort-of old. It’s mature and responsible. It’s comfortable and happy. Really, 36 is kind of awesome.
(Also, aside from the single silver hair I’ve had since my 20s, I haven’t gone grey yet. Holla!)