Sick Of It

I’m turning thirty-four in a couple of weeks and it’s all I can talk about lately. Not in the sense that I can’t shut up re: which feather boa to wear to my birthday party, but in the sense that all of a sudden I hear the words “I’m too old…” coming out of my mouth a lot. Apparently, according to me, I am too old to: wear my boob tube in public, listen to Beyonce, stay out late at night, live with flatmates, be single, have a lot of younger friends, or be attractive to anyone in any way. No one else is telling me any of this; I think most people I know couldn’t care less about what decade I’m in. It’s all coming from me, out of my mouth.

I remember writing about my twenties when I turned thirty (which seems sort of young now!) and feeling like I hadn’t done a lot of the things I used to think you had to do to be an adult. I guess one nice thing that’s happened since then is that I’ve mostly stopped thinking that only young people are entitled to excitement or adventure or love or beauty, and I have to say that in general my thirties have been a lot more interesting and expanding than my twenties were. My early thirties were, at least. Now that I’m getting well and truly into my mid thirties all those fears are resurfacing, and I wish I could be as confident as I (probably falsely) remember being even just a year or so ago. Is it just the difference between going somewhere completely unknown and thinking myself pretty bad-ass for doing so, and returning to somewhere beloved and familiar, and thinking myself merely tenacious and persevering? And why did I think that the reward for coming to terms with some of those old fears would be never having to think about them again, when that is clearly not the case?

A lot of this angst, if I’m honest, has to do with feeling suddenly, ferociously plain as of late. I’ve started to avoid mirrors lately, if you can believe it, and I’ve started to really worry about, like, clothes and makeup. I got my hair cut the other day and the stylist was all “You’ve never colored your hair? Hmmmmmmmmmm,” and then I freaked out about my grays for the rest of the afternoon as I tried on unflattering top after unflattering top in every store on Lambton Quay. Whenever I caught a glimpse of myself in a plate glass window by myself all I saw were eye bags.

I am not enjoying this at all. I know it’s a whole feedback loop thing and that if you feel good you look good and vice versa and that it’s all how you present and work what you have—I tell that sort of thing to other people all the time—but I can’t help wondering if whatever little shreds of confidence and cuteness I managed to dredge up a couple of years ago are all gone and if I am now and will forever stay completely invisible. I wonder if it’s just going to keep getting worse.

I hate admitting—I hate even thinking–that I would depend on outside validation in any way, and that that validation would be specifically about cuteness, or hotness, or pretty-ness, or fuckability, or what-have-you. And that it would be all tied up with being thirty-four instead of thirty-three, and that I would seem to have no control over any of it, and generally just am being really boring, because who wants to hang out with someone whose main topic of conversation is how old and unattractive she is? And aren’t there sort of more important things going on in the world for me to think and talk about?

I’m doing everything I can to get over this: wearing my cool sunglasses, investing more heavily in feminism, planning to get back into bellydance after a six month hiatus. It’s not working that well, though, because even I’m sick of my own company right about now. I just hate thinking that I’m doomed to not be done thinking about it yet..

7 comments

  1. Interestingly, Sundry’s last post was similar to this in that she isn’t feeling good about her looks lately but then feels guilty for those feelings because it’s so SHALLOW to be thinking those things. Except what all her commenters said was that EVERYONE thinks these things because unfortunately it comes along with being human.
    I just hit the big 4-0 and I always looked forward to it, that feeling women always talk about when their looks didn’t matter so much and it’s who they are as people that became more important. Apparently my brain didn’t get the memo yet, because I still wish I was prettier/thinner/taller/anything but me.
    I don’t know if the problem thinking ever truly goes away and you KNOW society will never help the cause any. I think the best we can hope for are those good hair/make-up/clothes days and try to hold onto that confident feeling as fleeting as it may be.

  2. Hot damn do I ever prescribe you a crapton of yoga and bellydance. Also hugs and smooches which I am too far away to deliver myself. Gah!

  3. Get your hot self back to bellydance, STAT! Also, I have been 34 for more than 7 months now, and on that basis I order you to eschew the term “mid-30s.” It’s not good for anyone.

    Outward validation is v. important to me. Who doesn’t like having people checking her out and telling her she’s hot? No one, that’s who.

    You’re in a valley right now. You’ll come out of it, but until you do, remember I love you. And also quit shopping for clothes until you feel hot again. For serious, girl.

  4. Ageing: nothing much happens until you hit 45. Don’t even worry.

    Work on your novels and short stories. Then your soul will click back in and your mojo will regenerate.

    34? How GLORIOUSLY YOUNG you are…

  5. I just had my 34th birthday yesterday and its weird because I was thinking the same thing about 34 suddenly seeming like old age. I still can’t figure out what exactly makes 34 more uncomfortable than 33. I kind of think it might be because now I am at an age when I have clear memories of my mother at the same age. When you are a kid and your mom blows out 34 candles, she seems ancient. Also, she had such a different life than me- married for a decade and a bit, 5 kids, a house, a job. I think subconciously I am doing some comparing about what my life is and what it should be, even when her life is not the one I really want for myself.
    The funny thing is that otherwise I’m feeling pretty good about things (also suffering from a horrible haircut and the subsequent lack of sex appeal that I am sure is clinging to me…). I think, atleast hoping, that its just the birthday that is bringing up this dissatisfied mood. And I’ve also been trying to tell myself that being perfectly content is not the ideal state either because then there is no motivation to try new things and push myself a bit. Its important to take inventory every now and again, and it sounds like thats what you’re doing. Silver lining and all.

  6. I turned 34 in January and it’s been the most “Eh” birthday yet. Not my actual birthday. That was a delicious day of museums, incredible coffee, and dinner with friends. But after the whole “Same age as Jesus!” giddiness of 33 (it’s such a nice symmetrical number) 34 is such a bummer. It’s been tough for me too because I lost my job last month and I’ve having the, “Okay, I’m 34 and I can . . . be a retail manager or an entry level admin assistant” and that? Is kind of depressing.

    Anyway! Yes, please get back to the dance classes because I love when you write about BD. I reread your “11 reasons” every few months for inspiration.

  7. I am trying to remember to think that I’m simply supposed to be whatever I’m supposed to be, supposed to feel whatever it is that I feel.

    It’s rough, getting older, and it’s OK to have these feelings I think, as you figure out how to navigate this next stage of your life. I think it’s OK to wonder if “you’re too old” for X because sometimes we are, if only because we’re closing off so many wonderful opportunities and experiences that come with getting older.

    I am inspired by your self-awareness, my friend, and that you’ve embraced the unknown, time and time again. You’ll find your way through to do the same about being 34, and no doubt it’ll include bellydancing and boas and boys and beauty and maybe a little bit of boring too since all of us are in some way. :)

    xoxo