I turned 34 this week.
It’s seemingly a baby for those in their forties and fifties. Considering celebrating my thirtieth birthday seems like yesterday, I wonder where the time went.
I remember turning 18 like it was yesterday. One of my girlfriends came to my house in the middle of the night, decorated my car with silly string, toilet paper, and fun birthday-themed “flair.”
18 was a milestone because it meant I no longer needed a fake ID to go to shady local clubs and dance the night away to TLC, 98 Degrees, and Ginuwine.
Turning 21 also seemed pretty recent. My college friends and I went to dinner at a super fancy and exclusive restaurant, Chili’s, before hitting the town and celebrating at various Gainesville landmarks.
I get it.
Not everyone wants to get older. We have to pay taxes, shop around for deals on health insurance, and stock up on creams and serums to keep us looking young forever.
It can really stink. In fact, I wrote a post about it here.
That said, there are some luxuries of getting older that I didn’t have in my youth.
Here are 9 of them.
Major Life Decisions: The Pressure is Off. Decide what do I want to be when I grow up. Check.
Finish school. Check.
Pass the bar exam. Check.
Get married. Check.
Pop out a couple kids. Check.
The older you get, the less important life decisions there are to make, because you’ve already checked a lot off your list. Now you can move onto unimportant decisions that don’t require as much brain power.
Like where you are going to hide the chocolate candy in the kitchen so your spouse won’t find it.
Fierce Friendships. When you’re young, unemployed, single, and childless (hello: college days!), it’s easy to have a million friends because having a million friends is convenient.
You have tons of friends in the dorms because you live in the dorms and see those people ten times a day.
You have friends in class who you study with three times a week.
Sorority sisters who you routinely see while dining at the house and at fraternity grab-a-dates.
However, when you’re older, your friendships strengthen because you only have a weelittlebit of time to devote to certain number of people because you’re also juggling your family and cultivating your personal passions. You maintain friends that are deeply valuable because you don’t have time for the crappers. You are dang picky about how you spend your precious time.
And, in turn, those are some of the deepest lifelong friendships you’ll ever know.
You Own the 9:00 p.m. Bedtime. When I was younger, New Year’s Eve was planned a month in advance. The event had to contain three things: friends, champagne, and a sequined getup.
Now, I want to spend New Years’ Eve on the couch, in my pajamas, and I’m the fuddy-duddy who gets miffed when the neighbors set off fireworks, because they spook my dog, Goshdarnit.
I don’t care about Times Square, watching a glittery ball drop, or having a perfect kiss at midnight.
On an average evening when I was young, I was still blowdrying my hair, applying makeup, or “pre-gaming” at 9:00 p.m. Now, I am washing my face, brushing my teeth, popping in my retainer, and getting ready to hit the sack.
Comfort over Fashion. Getting older’s given me a reason to cash in my stilettos for flats.
Who am I kidding? I never wore stilettos.
But if I did…
Yeah, looking nice is nice. But I’m not going to get dolled up just to go to the grocery store when I only need to pick up one item.
Staying seated at Sporting Events and Concerts. And honoring my obnoxiousness when I ask the person in front of me to sit down because (s)he is blocking my view.
Having Your Own Money. There’s something incredibly freeing about buying something with your own money that you earned through your own education and your own hard work.
There’s also something incredibly freeing about wisely choosing not to buy something you would otherwise like to have, but you know it’s a stupid way to spend your own money that you earned through your own education and your own hard work.
A wise woman once said: “The shoes on my feet, I’ve bought it, The clothes I’m wearing, I’ve bought it, The rock I’m rocking’, ‘Cause I depend on me…”
Getting Taken More Seriously. For the most part.
Procreating. While parenting has its challenges, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Having your kids tell you they love you beats the cashier at the DMV handing over the plastic driver’s license to your 16 year-old self.
Watching your kids love and protect each other beats playing flip cup at football tailgate parties of your youth.
Watching your kids do the right thing in a difficult situation beats college spring break in the Bahamas with twenty of your close friends.
Kids beat everything.
Putting Life Lessons into Action. It took me nearly thirty years to learn to keep my (big) mouth closed in certain situations, but at least I learned it.
It took me longer than thirty years to not let fear of other people’s (meaningless) opinions prevent me from putting myself “out there” and do what I truly want to do, but at least I learned it.
It took me nearly thirty years to make a concerted effort to focus on the big picture instead of the minutiae, but at least I learned it and have a chance to work on it.
Being young, immature, and inexperienced gives people a license to goof up and make mistakes. Being an adult provides the opportunity to recognize the mistakes and hopefully grow from them.
Here’s to turning 34. Here’s to major life decisions, fierce friendships, choosing comfort over fashion, staying seated at events, having your own money, getting taken more seriously, procreating, putting life decisions into action, and the marvelous 9 p.m. bedtime.