I am turning 34 tomorrow. Thirty-four. It sounds like a big age. I remember my mum turning 34 and, then, it seemed so far away that it was unimaginable.
33 has been a difficult age. After the excitement of re-entering the world in my late twenties, I found myself floundering, trying to make up for lost time but also discovering that, once time has gone, it is very difficult to get back. There has been a disconnect, therefore, between how old I have felt in my head and how old I have been in the world; and, however much people say that age is just a number, it doesn’t quite ring true.
By 34, you’d hope to be settled in your career. To know where your life was going. By 34, most people have a family and children and a proper grown-up home. By 34, you’d expect to know who you were and have gone through enough heartbreaks and holidays and jobs and homes to feel that you had a bit of life experience behind you.
It is hard not to feel these things.
Dwelling on them has not been helpful.
I have been thinking about how I can do things differently when I am 34, and it seems to come down to working out what I want the year to bring, rather than concentrating on what I think it should bring. To remembering that people grow at different speeds and, biological clocks and social pressures aside, if I keep the focus on how I want to grow in the coming year, that’s really all that matters.
So, when I am 34, I want to see bits of the world that I haven’t seen before. I want to find something that I love doing in my spare time again, and make a space for that. I want to shake off some of the insecurities that I’d hoped to have dropped by now but still find themselves clinging to me at unexpected times and just when I think I’m almost there. I want to lay down stronger foundations for the rest of my life, so that instead of just living for the moment, which is what I’ve been doing up until this point, I also live for a future – and believe that that future can happen.
And, when I am 34, I want to enjoy being young while I still am, because I know that I’m not over the hill quite yet, and there is only limited time left for Topshop mini skirts and a wrinkle-free face. I want to exercise and eat well and not smoke, and generally look after myself a little bit better because I am finally beginning to understand that it’s the things that you do now that help you to be where you want to be later on.
And, most of all I think, I want to be able to look back and say that 34 has been a good year. That I have spent the time well and that I wouldn’t have done anything differently – or at least that I have learnt something from the things that I would have done differently. That it is filled with people and laughter and hope, and that I spend it looking forwards rather than looking back.