I couldn't wait to turn 30. I told anyone who would listen that I had never been in a better place spiritually, physically and emotionally and I meant it. I had finally achieved a level of success at work and saw myself on an actual career path instead of just at some job. I had shed about 30+ pounds over the course of several years and a combination of twice-weekly workouts with a trainer and a low-carb diet had helped keep the weight off. I was happy. I felt good. And I wanted to shout it from the rooftops:
I AM THIRTY AND FABULOUS.
There was no hesitation to dive right into my 30s and take on the world.
And each year since has been much of the same - I have embraced my birthday and I have embraced getting older because life just continues to improve and more importantly, I continue to improve.
Until this year. Turning 36 proved to be a slight hiccup. I don't know if it's because 36 is just such a meh year. I don't know if it's because 36 puts me that much farther away from 30 and that much closer to 40. I don't know. But I had a hard time getting excited about the fact that I would be 36. It just seemed so....old.
A few days before the big day I had one of my patented Rougie epiphanies: I wasn't turning another year older, I was turning another year better. Doesn't that have such a lovely ring to it? Another year better.
Still, despite reframing the aging process so that I could wrap my head around it, my birthday came and went and something was still missing. It was like: Ok. I'm 36, and to quote Suzanne Sugarbaker, Big woo. Unlike 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, and 35, there was no desire to shout it from the rooftops, and that bothered me.
Until Thursday. Something clicked on Thursday.
I had a really good week work-wise. Really good. Better than really good - it was fucking fantabulous. And as I was driving home on Thursday, marinating in the warm glow of career success, I could feel it. Not overwhelming. Not overpowering. But enough for me to know that there it was. Self-confidence. That most elusive of all emotions. The thing I strive for most and never seem to grasp.
My confidence typically comes from those around me. Pay attention to me, compliment me, and I'm on top of the world. Criticize me, or worse yet - ignore me, and I'll spend all day wondering what I did wrong. It's as if I have a hard time believing something unless someone else says it. I'm not smart unless you tell me I am smart. I'm not pretty unless you tell me I am pretty. My sense of self-worth is directly correlated to what everyone else thinks and says about me.
But Thursday? Thursday was about me. And it was the best fucking feeling in the world. I began to think about my life at 36 versus my life at 26 and the conclusion was that 36 was kicking 26's ass every day of the week and three times on Thursdays. I am more successful. I make more money. I am in the best physical shape of my life. I mean, I won't be on the cover of Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition any time soon but at 36 I can still rock a size 4 denim mini. I am happier. I am more balanced. I am more focused. I can still chug a car bomb. And of course, I am more confident.
Don't get me wrong. My life is far from perfect. And there are still some areas that I haven't figured out yet. But I've made a lot of progress over the last 36 years and for the most part, I'm doing ok. Hell - I'm doing better than ok:
My point was confirmed last night when I was out at a bar and struck up conversation with a young kid. Turned out he was celebrating his 21st birthday so I bought him a festive birthday shot and told him that I had just celebrated my 36th birthday the week before. He looked at me and said with all kinds of sincerity: "If you don't mind my saying, you look really good for 36."
I won't lie - the compliment totally made my night. Hell - it may have made my month (as a Leo born on the Day of Validation I thrive - THRIVE - on the kind words of others). But for the first time in a long time, I didn't need someone else to tell me what I already know.
Now...where's the nearest rooftop? I've got some shouting to do.