April 05, 2012

Another year older...


Today, I am 32. And as I settle further into that phase of life during which people find it increasingly polite to avoid any direct age-related inquiries, I feel more comfortable than ever in my own aging skin. When I was old enough to understand it, my parents told me about how my father struggled with turning 30. To him it marked an end of carefree youthfulness. But I should clarify that my parents have always struck me as profoundly youthful. Age for them now seems to be more about attitude and affect.

On some level, the very thought of being upset by my age feels silly. I'll take 32 year old me over 22 year old me any day of the week. This time ten years ago, my self-esteem was abysmal. My long-term relationship was swiftly deteriorating. I was about to graduate from college and my future was frighteningly uncertain. Although I was lucky to have great friends, few responsibilities, and lots of free time to do fun things, in retrospect I am glad to be through it. Don't get me wrong. I don't feel any regrets over my 20s but I am just happy they're over.


I think about my life now and feel pretty great. I'm a product of the learning and the experiences I endured as an insecure 22 year old. And sometimes I wish I could go back in time and provide comfort that reassures someone so uncertain. For this reason I do try to hug my little sister often. She is ten years younger than me and although she has a lot going for her and is about to graduate college with a cumulative gpa that exceeds my best single undergraduate semesters, I also realize that even the most exciting of transitions are still hard and sometimes fraught.

I wore the above ensemble to deliver a keynote address to the new inductees of our freshman honor society. And I wanted to hug them too because they just successfully weathered such a major transition, from high school to college. Transitions can be difficult but at least they make us more resilient and better capable of weathering any change to come.

I am glad 22 year old me decided to take some time entering the workforce before pursuing an advanced degree. I'm grateful that I eventually began graduate study and met a special someone doing something similar. And I am happy to report that both my early-20s ex boyfriend and I found more stable, more fulfilling, and more mature relationships with our new partners. From my vantage, all of the above is evidence of how good it is to be older... to get older.

Of course it has taken me a bit longer than I expected it would to feel this way. I really identify with  the internal monologue scene from Singles during which Bridget Fonda's character reflects on how teenage her viewed the ages of 23 and 25. I thought as a teen that my life trajectory would closely mimic my parents, who married at 23, had kids by 26, and were settled into careers right after college. But at least within my social circle, an ever-lengthening American post-adolescence has changed the landscape of what it means to be in your thirties. For me, it no longer carries the same connotations it once did when my father was struggling with the existential questions brought forth from being new to this same age bracket. Still, it's funny and unsurprising how birthdays (both the welcomed and the un-welcomed) provoke reflection and stock-taking.

I have a lot to be grateful for and there are a lot of exciting things I'm anticipating in the coming year. So amid the process of taking stock, I welcome the next phase of my life with open arms.

Outfit info:
Kate Spade Calista dress (bought this time last year) (similar KS; similar other)
BP cardigan
Burberry Brit trench (this season's version here) from (Larrimor's)
Spanx tights
Marc by Marc Jacobs pumps (similar here and here)
Vintage initial necklace (gift from my secret santa), Target bracelet, Betsy Johnson watch

28 comments:

snowymt 55 said...

Happy birthday Jess! As a 1980s kid myself, I really enjoyed your thoughts and words. I panicked a bit last year but am feeling like I've hit my groove finally and cannot wait for more to come!

CC said...

Happy Birthday! I love that outfit.

Adeline said...

Wonderful post, so well put! I really enjoyed reading your thoughts, and of course, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!

Laura said...

Happiest of birthdays to you. I have to say, thus far, 32 has been my very favorite year. Much like you said, I feel settled, still young and much more confident in all my endeavors.

Terrie said...

Happy Birthday!

amles said...

Happy b-day :)

thatdamngreendress said...

Happy Birthday! I wish we could all stay 32 forever 'cause it's a great age: smart and mature and totally at home in your self, but not quite required to be settled and absolutely totally responsible!

I never had a problem with age until recently, as I start thinking about another big number beginning to loom, at which point there are enormous societal expectations of achievement, that I could usually just shrug off...eeps.

zyzzyva said...

Happy Birthday! (Mine is coming up at the end of the month and I'm much less thrilled.)

I love your grey shoe & tights pairing. It provides such a sophisticated base/pedestal for an outfit. :D

Terri said...

Happy birthday! As for aging...it only gets better. I love the profile of the grey tights with the grey shoes. You look very, very polished and if I may say so, "grown up."

Vang Xiong said...

Thank you. I really appreciate your thoughtful prose. I sometimes wish I could give a hug to twenty-something year old me and let her know, "this too shall pass". Also, happy birthday to you!

mindorific said...

Happy belated birthday to you! What a lovely post (and a killer dress!).

Cheers,
Mindi

carol_prettythings said...

I hope you had a happy birthday, Jess! Lovely and well-written post. :)

A Stylized Hysteria said...

Happy birthday (again)! You look great, and I hope I'm as excited about 32 as you are :D

Jesspgh of Consume or Consumed said...

haha thanks!

Jesspgh of Consume or Consumed said...

Thank you, Carol!

Jesspgh of Consume or Consumed said...

Thanks Mindi!

Jesspgh of Consume or Consumed said...

Attn: former insecure selves: This too shall pass! indeed. I love it! Thanks so much for your comment.

Jesspgh of Consume or Consumed said...

I feel more me with every year so I think you must be right. It can only get better! Thank you for your kind words!

Jesspgh of Consume or Consumed said...

I'm sorry you aren't thrilled. I hope you find fun ways to celebrate in a killer dress (as I know you will!!). :) Thank you for the kind words!

Jesspgh of Consume or Consumed said...

32 is a great age. Are we age twins? That is so fun! I thought we might be around the same age.

Thank you for your sweet compliment.

I am sure your achievements are plenty laudable. You always impress me!

Jesspgh of Consume or Consumed said...

Thank you!

Jesspgh of Consume or Consumed said...

Thank you!

Jesspgh of Consume or Consumed said...

Thanks so much! I am excited for this year. Young and confident are apt descriptions of this age in my opinion. :)

Jesspgh of Consume or Consumed said...

Thank you so much!

Jesspgh of Consume or Consumed said...

Thanks!

Jesspgh of Consume or Consumed said...

Thank you! I think it can be jarring but I've decided to embrace my age and my aging because I really value the wisdom I have but I know there's so much more to learn. And I admire the women around me who embrace their wisdom which came with age too.

thatdamngreendress said...

give or take 5 years....:)

I would be totally ok to be 32 forever, but apparently that was while ago!

UshaJoy said...

I have been meaning to wish you for so long! It's still your birthday month so happy happy birthday! I hit 30 in just over a month and I couldn't be more excited as well. I hope the coming year brings you everything you desire and more Jess! xx

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