When I turned 30, I wrote this post, and I’ve been similarly introspective about turning 35.
Once you hit a certain age, the years go by quickly, and that can be both a blessing and a curse. I turned 35 three weeks ago, in the last month of a year that has been arduous on both a personal and global scale. My family has struggled. I’ve had friends lose loved ones, and others whose parents have fallen seriously ill. We don’t need to get into the election, but that did impact me and those very close to me. And then there are the acts of terrorism, violence and police brutality that ended or altered the lives of thousands of people around the world. Add in all the celebrities that died this year, and the world seems to be collectively holding its breath as we gingerly step toward 2017.
And yet, I feel primed. I feel like I’m on the cusp of something new, and I feel proud of what I’ve accomplished over the last five years and what the new year has in store.
I entered my third career as a marketer (after journalist and full-time freelancer, which I think warrants a distinction) two months after beginning this decade of life, two-and-a-half years after swearing off the 9-to-5 forever. I’ve learned so much not just about the practice of marketing but also about the business world. I’ve learned how to be more professional and polished, to walk the walk and talk the talk, to be confident even in the face of uncertainty, power and those smarter than me. I’ve learned to guide the careers of others, to negotiate salary, openly share my opinion and navigate the often turbulent waters of working with others. Maybe the best part is that I see a growth trajectory for myself. I now know that in my ongoing quest to decide what I want to be when I grow up, I can play on either team—the corporate or the freelance. It’s not about luck. It’s about skill and drive.
I’ve spent most of my 30s in New York, a place I always wanted to experience but never saw myself living in as a 30-something married mom. I came here at 31, newly wed and then quickly pregnant. The first year was tough. Brendan’s mom died, there were job shifts, friendships ended and I grieved my Australia. I felt stuck in limbo. I think I was and needed to be, because what came next was a foray into motherhood that bowled me over and a career pivot that would quickly accelerate over the coming two years. And then everything else started blossoming. I found community, grew strong friendships at work and reconnected with buddies we had in Australia. I started really living in the moment in this city, valuing it for what it offers instead of the grind that it often puts you through (read: A train delays).
Since the birth of my first child in April 2014, I’ve conceived two more: one dead and one yet to be born. It might be the first time you’re learning that—more on those stories later. At times I think I’ve got everything under control and at others I feel like a completely terrible mom. Some days I don’t know how I do it—get up, commute two hours round trip, come home to domestic duties and an energetic (and completely smart, funny and beautiful) toddler while being five-and-a-half months pregnant with another child. The hours of 6:30 to 10 zip by, and I wonder if this is how I’m meant to be living (and I know Brendan does too) for the years to come. But this is a time and a place in our lives, one most working parents go through, and we are fortunate to be having our moment in New York City, a place of such opportunity and wonder for us, our son and future daughter.
I still have my reservations about what aging means for a woman. I sometimes feel like I’ve lost my sparkle, that I’m already “of a certain age.” But even in that uncertainty, I’ve found more confidence. There’s something to be said for still taking pride in my appearance but not giving a shit about what others think of my looks and knowing, for real, that I have the smarts, people skills, work ethic and capability to be good—and become better—at what I do and as a human being.
There are many things left undone as I edge closer to 40. I still need to write and pitch my memoir, something I’ve been taking active steps towards. There are many more parts of the world I want to see. I want to get better at networking, at being open and saying “yes,” of reclaiming a curious younger part of me that has been somewhat muffled by getting older, working full-time and parenthood. My world in some ways has to get smaller out of necessity. It’s what I personally need to stay balanced, because I can’t be everywhere and everything at once. But I want to keep learning and growing and exploring, and teaching my children to do the same.
So I’m ready, age 35 and year 2017. I go willingly into your orbit.