09 January 2007

A Theory

I turned 35 last week. I've been asked a number of times how I feel about turning 35, the implication being that many people feel bad about it, the same way that many people dread turning 30 or fear being "over the hill" when they turn 40.

I feel perfectly fine about being 35.

I also felt a-ok about turning 30. In fact, I had a huge party. It was probably my most fun and memorable birthday ever. I wore a tiara and an orange sparkly wrap. It was great.

This year's milestone was celebrated with much less fanfare as I was quite ill. I did get a lovely bracelet from GH, a man of exquisite taste. He's awesome.

As I drifted off to sleep on my birthday night, I reflected a bit on why people seem to have such negative feelings about the birthdays that end in zero and five. Here's my theory. Those five year marks are time to reflect on life, what's happened, where you've been, what you've done. I think that people who have regrets--about things they've done or not done, things they've accomplished or not accomplished, places they have or have not been, any regret at all--are much more likely to feel bad about the passage of time that their birthday symbolizes. People who feel good overall about what they've accomplished are more likely to feel fine about their birthday.

What do you think? I'm lucky enough to marvel every day at some of the amazing things I've had the privilege to do in my life. Clearly, there are things I'd change about my life right now (cure for cancer, anyone?), but overall, I have a lot to be thankful for and proud of.

No regrets here. Bring on the birthdays!


Rachel said...

I just turned 35 too, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I'm not sure why. Maybe because I'm in sort of a holding pattern right now...But it has also been very motivating for me, to realize I'm not where I want to be, and I need to make some changes.

It's great that you feel that way, though. You have done some amazing things. I'd love to read more about some of your experiences in the Peace Corps.

Happy Belated birthday!

Christine said...

A defining principle of my life is no regrets. Also, never complain, never explain. I wasn't happy about turning 30, but I didn't obsess over it -- like you said, I'm just trying to move forward. Good for you for having such a great attidude, and happy belated birthday!

OTRgirl said...

I think you're right about birthday emotion being relative to how we feel about life. I only have one large area of regret/what if fear. That piece of 35 was hard, but otherwise I enjoy getting older. I love finding out all the amazing things you've done in your life.

soralis said...

Happy Belated Birthday!

Leggy said...

Happy belated birthday. I wish I could give you a cure for cancer for your birthday. Short of that, just know that I'm thinking of you...

Yankee, Transferred said...

Happy belated birthday! I'm 55 and lovin' it. And yeah, I second what Leggy sez.

Rev Dr Mom said...

Happy belated birthday from me, too.

As for age, I had my first "midlife crisis" when I turned 30, and it was all related to where I was in life and what I was (and wasn't) doing.

None of my other "mile stone" birthdays have been that hard. I turned 50 my first year of seminary and that gave me pause. But honestly, age is all relative; I was and am very happy to be doing what I'm doing now; I only wonder what it would be like if I'd made certain choices sooner. For the most part, though, it's all good.