I Turned 35 Yesterday + All You Get Is This Lousy Blog Post


I can’t believe I turned 35 yesterday and you know why? Because I can still so vividly remember my 23rd birthday.

I went out to dinner with friends and wore a black and white striped tank (my style choices have clearly remained consistent, ha!) that I hemmed and hawed about in my mind because I thought my arms were too flabby. Ultimately I talked myself into it because “I was too old for this body shaming bullshit.” Ah, yes. Much too old!

My hair was dyed some wonky reddish color, as was the norm in those days, and Jimmy Eat World’s Bleed American album was blasting on repeat in my car. I had picked a Cuban restaurant because I was feeling oh-so-very worldly in all of my 23 years, but was shocked when the Pollo Asado I ordered showed up and and was CHICKEN WITH A BONE IN IT!

The horror!

We all were sort of underwhelmed by the food, but mostly I think because it wasn’t Tito’s Tacos or In-n-Out.  I hadn’t really learned to cook yet, you see, or rather I hadn’t learned to cook things that didn’t come out of a box so my palette was limited. But truth be told, in those days I’d rather drink my calories anyway, so no big deal.

It was a good night, with fun folks, but it was also a weird time. Weird because I was living 6 hours from most of my friends and family and had only sort of found my tribe. Weird because it was a month after 9/11 and our entire country was still so confused. Weird because I was super unhappy in my job but hadn’t the slightest idea on what to do. Weird because I was so unhappily single. Weird, because 23 is right smack in the middle of your twenties and there is nothing NOT weird about that entire decade as I look back on it in my rear view mirror.

I am so, so happy to be in my 30s. I want to shout that from the rooftops all day long. But 35. Something about 35 just has a certain sound about it that I am not quite used to just yet.

“Your butt starts to sag when you’re 35, you know” said my hilarious co worker.

“I had an 11 year old when I was 35, you know” said my mother.

“I hope you don’t want to have kids at that age” said a SUPER RUDE person in an elevator recently.

It seems to be an age with so many expectations and yet disappointments waiting around every corner. I’m not quite sure yet what to think, but usually I feel super renewed on my birthday and ready to see what comes. While I had a SUPER FUN birthday weekend, and a great day on my actual birthday shopping with my mom, I’m not quite feeling the zest I usually feel. Am I crazy? If you have a birthday pep talk, I’m all ears.



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20 Responses to I Turned 35 Yesterday + All You Get Is This Lousy Blog Post

  1. Natasha says:

    I think 35 is one of those birthdays that has social pressure around it, especially when it comes to women. All I know is 1. You’re awesome. 2. That elevator person need to be stung by a bee. 3. Your age only has as much meaning as you allow it. Allow yourself to feel however you’re feeling and then let it go.

    You’re fabulous, you’re talented, you’re funny, and you’re 35.

  2. sizzle says:

    I hate to admit it but birthdays lose their luster as you get older. At least they have for me. And don’t get me wrong I LOVE BIRTHDAYS but it’s just not the same. I don’t party like I used to. I don’t have the same priorities. But there is a shift that’s kind of nice too, just settling into yourself more and more each year.

    I hope 35 is a really wonderful year for you.

  3. LizScott says:

    So, one thing I’m slowly figuring out is that life planning based at what other people have accomplished/done/have at a certain age is just a terrible way to live. Awful, awful. You can’t win. Ever! And, there’s no saying that someone who has an 11 year old at age 35 isn’t wildly jealous that you HAVEN’T spent the past 11 years mothering a person and instead have been able to spend that time doing other stuff. Grass,greener, etc.

    I have a friend who used to get hung up that she was 40 with a newborn but taking advice from 25 year olds who had older kids. Finally she started looking at other parents not in terms of how old THEY were, but how old their kids were. “Oh, that person has been a mom for 5 years, I have been a mom for 3 months, so her advice is needed and valid” vs. “What the fuck can a 25 year old teach me / holy shit I have to take advice from 25 year olds.”

    Things change as you get older but that’s not all for the worse (maybe your coworker’s butt sags, but I have friends who look better at 35+ than they EVER did in their 20s).

    My point is that age is so relative. There’s a not a list of stuff that has to be completed in life that people who check things off before you are “winning.” Because really, very few of us know what the hell we’re doing, and honestly, the people that seem like they do in their 20s and early 30s are generally the people who upend everything in their 40s. Which is the best PART of getting older: the chance to completely change course if you want, because it’s never too late, not as long as you’re here.

    And on that rambling note: Happy, happy, happiest of years to you, my friend. I hope this year is filled with more good days than bad, and more laughter than tears. xoxo.

  4. I’m a big fan of birthdays. No matter how old I get or my friends & family get – I love to make a big deal out of them.

    I mean, just look at this post – You went from hemming & hawing in general to being a passionate, engaged, ambitious, successful woman – I’d take 35 over 23 any day. <3

  5. I am SO SO SO bad at birthdays. They always feel like they’re supposed to be super fun, and that pressure always kind of makes them suck for me.

    So I have no words of wisdom regarding birthdays, but I do have something to say about aging.

    IT. IS. WEIRD.

    I keep waiting to feel ‘grown up’ and ‘like I know what’s going on’ and it just doesn’t happen. But you know what? I’m starting to relish that feeling because I think it means that when I’m in my 70s, I’ll still feel like a teenager. And that is wildly comforting.

    Who wants to have it all figured out anyway?!

    And f*ck all that stuff about what’s destined to happen, like sagging butts and difficulty birthing and all that nonsense. It’s nonsense. There was a time people didn’t think women should run when they have their period or lift anything heavier than a 3-pound, pink dumbbell.

    I will now climb up on my “I’m 45-years-old and know SOME stuff” soapbox: Don’t listen to anybody. Including me 🙂 You have a good heart, a sound mind, a wonderful husband, a perfect dog, and the entire world available to you. Breath, enjoy, and celebrate fabulous YOU.

    Happy Birthday!

  6. Jillian says:

    Happy Birthday! I turn 35 in February so I’m not sure how I feel about it yet. I think life just keeps getting better and better, and I have no desire to go back to my 20s. Birthdays are a good time to think about goals though and to celebrate. I like making them special.

  7. Cami Sebern says:

    Holly, I am 55 and remember 35 like it was yesterday. The roller coaster that is life continues no matter what your chronological age, so don’t sweat it. You will have some laughs, some tears and some love no matter what. You are so funny, wise and kind and those are traits that matter at any age.

    • Susan Hoover says:

      Amen! I just turned 52 a week before you turned 35, and I completely agree with Cami. I have learned, and continue to learn, to enjoy now and the changes it brings. Each age has its own special magic!

  8. Jesabes says:

    Happy, happy birthday!! You’ve just made me realize *I* will have an 11-year-old when I’m 35. Yikes!

  9. Kelly says:

    Enjoy! 35 it is the age I would pick if I could go back. I am now 56 and happy with my life but wish my body was where my head is! My only advice to you…..I do wish I had taken better care of myself. You are on that path, congratulations and happy birthday!

  10. 35 is weird. I found it weird because it was the age my mom was was she divorced my dad and when I thought about how I didn’t really feel like a grown up yet at 35 and she had that crazy experience. Pretty much did my head in.

    I want to pat my 20 something self on the head and tell her to relax.

    1990 was only 10 years ago.

    And I’ve loved all my post 35 years more than the ones before. Not the birthdays because like Sizzle said, they kinda lost their luster, but the years. I finally feel comfortable in my own skin. Mostly.

  11. Alicia says:

    I wish I could “like” some of the previous comments! I love your description of 23 because it sounds so similar to mine. Now when I hear someone’s age is 28 I think, “Oh, s/he’s my age.” Um, nope. I’m 31. Apparently I’m in denial.
    As for your pep talk, I’ll tell you what my 86 year old grandpa says… “Getting old sure beats the alternative!” Granted, he says it 86 times every time I see him. 😉

  12. Scot Herrick says:

    Here is the most important *half* birthday: when you can withdraw IRA funds without the penalty at 59 and 1/2. Who celebrates half birthdays?

    And, even though you can do that at 59 and a half, you still wonder what you will do when you grow up.

    35? Seriously, get over it. What happens at 75 and you realize you weren’t happy half your life? Go do what is important for you to do right now. Otherwise you’ll hit 75 and have nothing but regrets…except for when you were 59 and a half.

    Do what you love. Live your life.

  13. MC says:

    I’m coming up on a birthday too, so I’m well versed in birthday pep talks.

    This may seems cynical but honestly, what makes me feel awesome is to say to myself, “Lady, in 10 years, you are going to wish you looked as good and have as much energy as you do now. You should revel in it!” And then I do! 🙂

  14. Barbara J. says:

    Live today with all you’ve got; age is just a number.

  15. KellyBrown says:

    I turned 36 last year, darlin’. Everyone on here is right in saying age is just a number and it is how YOU feel about your life and the people in it that count. My mom said to me on my birthday last year that she had already had her 3 children by then and that I was 10 when SHE turned 36. True dat, mom, but you also got married at 20. At 20 years old, I was still gallivanting around the University of Michigan campus, getting drunk and having fun. I hadn’t yet lived in London for a year, which helped me grow up so much. Or gone to law school. Or experienced true heartbreak and disappointment and amazing friends and sex and love. Rock where YOU are at, because YOU are all that matters.

  16. MisoB says:

    Don’t put so much pressure on a DAY! I have a birthday WEEK! I tell everyone it’s my birthday and make them take me to lunch or drinks for 5 days, then get a babysitter and have a nice dinner and movie with the hub. Spread the joy!

    Holly – I hadn’t even met my significant other at 35. I ran my first marathon at 35. Did my first adventure race at 36. I met hub at 38. Ran my first relay-200 miles through Colorado mountains at 39. Had my daughter at 40. Took up Roller Derby at 43. (shout out to Melicious!) The best is ahead of you. You’ll become more comfortable in your own skin. Keep trying new things. Learning & adventure keeps you young.

    Good luck and happy birthday. My birthday week starts Sunday 🙂

  17. Maureen says:

    35 was a weird birthday for me too. I’m not sure why, but I had a small “crap, what am I doing with my life?” kind of freak out on the day. I’ve never had that again (I’m 52) so I’m not sure why I had one then. So you are definitely not the only one who has felt like this!

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  19. Liz says:

    I have a 6 month old and was 35 when I had him (just turned 36). Best experience and I’m so glad I’m an “older mom.” And I’m planning on at least 1 more. I feel like it’s the best of both worlds – I get to be a mom and I had the chance to grow in my 20’s. A