36

I wasn’t going to turn 36 this year.

I have certain ages that I’m really psyched to hit: I think 37 is gonna be a really super sexy age for me. I’ve been looking forward to 42 for as long as I can remember. And 80 is going to be rad, because by then all bets are off and I’m going to eat a shit ton of sugar and drink all the time and I’ll probably pick up smoking again and I am going to expand my elderly mind by doing some fucking psychedelic drugs, maaan, because I’ve always been too scared to do that stuff but I won’t be scared by then because I’ll be fucking 80 with nothing else to lose!

But 36? *shrugs*

Earlier in my birthday week, I told some of my friends that I was finally going to use my “I’m turning ___ again!” Girl Card to turn 35 again this bday. Turning 35 last year was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. I keep wanting to say that it had nothing to do with getting older, but the truth? It had everything to do with it. I just didn’t feel my age. And it’s always kind of been that way: The stages have never fit the ages. I either felt way too old for my actual years, or I felt like I had been cheated out of important milestones that other peeps my age had gotten to have (and therefore I needed to make up for lost time).

And 35…it felt…unescapable. Like a big neon sign flashing, “You should have a house and a boat and 2 kids and probably stock options and maybe even a divorce settlement and you don’t got none’a dat!”

Which, to be fair, I never really wanted any of that stuff before (except maybe a boat. I might like a boat).

But all of a sudden, at 35? It felt like I should have all of it.

So.

35 sucked. And I kind of wanted a do-over.

But the night before my birthday, as the clock neared midnight, I was sitting at my desk and writing and it kind of hit me: There’s a certain symmetry to the age 36. With my birthday on the 6th, 3’s, 6’s, and 9’s have always been auspicious for me…and now I intended to skip right over that cosmic radness? 35 might have sucked, but the entire week leading up to 36 had been rad…and I started to feel like maybe that meant something. Maybe instead trying to make over the same place to my exact liking, it was better to move forward to a new and different age.

(There’s a larger lesson in there somewhere, but we don’t need to get into it just now)

So I’m 36 now. And to celebrate This New Age, I thought I’d make a lil’ list.

Because, you know, it’s my birthday, and it’s also my blog, which means I can pretty much do whatever the hell I want.

36 Things I Learned By The Age 36

1) The best kind of friends are the ones who nourish you. Who make you feel all warm and light inside, who spur you on to greater things and believe in your magic and leave you filled with energy.

2) The worst kind of friends are the energy-stealers: The ones who make you constantly wonder what you did wrong or why they’re mad at you or why you always feel kind of crappy, just thinking about them.

3) The peer comparison game is a dangerous exercise in discontent.

4) So is remembering where you thought you would be at age __ back when you were 18.

5) Sometimes it’s easy to feel behind on the fact that I don’t own a house or a boat or have two kids like some of my former classmates. But then I remember that I get to sleep in until 10, meet a friend in the middle of the day for coffee, spend the rest of the day writing and internetting, pay my bills without worry, and stay up reading a book as late as I wanna, and then I feel better. 

6) Young ladies, as someone who’s been on both sides of this, please don’t ever believe a man who tries to explain away his wife or girlfriend by telling you that “it’s complicated.” These men will often be charming, sweet, and seemingly put-upon while they’re telling you this, and even though you’re reading this and thinking, “I would never believe a man who told me that”, you will find yourself wanting to believe him despite all of your best judgement, and very much so. But know this: No matter how handsome or sweet or smart or Jude Law-esque he seems, the only thing that’s “complicated” is:

a) He wants to have sex with you

b) He doesn’t want to have to break up with his wife or girlfriend in order to do so.

The End.

7) Whenever I start to feel a little unmoored and directionless it’s because 1) I haven’t written in a while 2) I haven’t meditated in a while 3) both. 

8) It is totally okay for me to want everything I want.

9) It is also very necessary to want what I want with all my heart.

10) When you’re in Mexico with your girlfriends and the hot waiter keeps bringing shots to your table, those are not free shots. He’s not “giving” them to you because he thinks you guys are super hot. He’s charging all of them to your bill, and if you keep taking them, you’re gonna be out of alotta pesos. (Also, your waiter is really smart and you should copy this trick later when you take a side gig as a cocktail waitress.)

11) Those kids on Twitter or Instagram or Facebook who seem so much cooler than you? They are not actually that much cooler. They just care about that stuff a lot more than you do.

12) Don’t trust a man who plans a weekend coffee date with his single female coworker.

13) There are people out there who will become your friends and then betray you in a heartbeat. This is not a reflection on the value of your friendship or your ability to judge a person’s character. Those people are drowning, and because of that, their desperation has taught them to regard others as mere flotation devices.

Or, they’re sociopaths.

Either way, keep your head up, give up some prayers of gratitude for your true friends, and don’t say anything about that person or what happened unless someone asks you about it outright. And, no matter how long it might take or hard it might be to do so, find a way to forgive them.

This will drive them crazy.

And that will be the best revenge of all.

14) Don’t trust someone who tries to convince you to not be friends with someone you’ve never even met yet. They’re usually trying to cover something up. (And that “something” is usually a super shitty thing they did that the other person knows about)

15) When you are on a date and you are asking a guy questions and he is not reciprocating with those same questions – or any questions – it is not because you are not nor ever will be a wondrous and unique flower that he is simply dying to know more about. It is because he is a guy, and they literally just do not think/communicate like that (a.k.a., men really are from Mars, and women really are from Venus). If you want him to know things about you, strap on your assertive heels and tell him those things.

The sooner you come to accept this, the happier your dating life will be.

16) People who insist that they’re a really good judge of character? Are never good judges of character. 

17) People who say they don’t like or want drama? Are typically the ones creating most of it.

18) When you give yourself the permission to simply like what you like, you’re subconsciously giving other people permission to do that, as well. And that is some really powerful shit.

19) Don’t hold onto grudges. It’s a petty, selfish way of living and it makes you look small.

20) Do your best to accept someone’s apology, even if you don’t think they mean it. Sometimes – many times, most times – forgiveness is a thing to do for you, instead of just for them.

21) Defaulting to graciousness is a policy that will hold you in good steadWhen the posh kids from Made In Chelsea are at a party and they see someone they have a conflict with, they still make a point to greet them with a handshake (or air kisses, because they’re posh) and a kind smile. It’s not being fake – it’s being polite. No one admires rudeness.

22) If you have a conflict with someone, give them a chance to clean up their side of the street. This is a sign of respect and maturity. Also, nobody respects – or trusts – the guy who badmouths someone all over town but doesn’t have the balls to bring it to that person’s table.

23) Looking for validation on how funny, smart, hot, or interesting you might be via your number of social media follows is a manic exercise in futility. 

24) Nobody likes a clique except for the people who are in it. Plus, inclusivity is 1000 times more fun + interesting than exclusivity.

25) Knowing someone is always happy to see you is one of the greatest joys in the world. Make a point to be that person for others.

26) Grief is unexplainable and profound, scary to others who haven’t gone through it, and both comfortingly similar yet starkly different for everyone who has. And there’s no Grief For Dummies Handbook, so you just have to dive in and muddle through it the best you can. Crying helps a lot. So does smashing things. And never, ever underestimate the power of just sitting and watching Sex & The City reruns with someone who’s cool with letting you be quiet and sad because you just need to be quiet and sad that day (but you also don’t really want to be alone while doing so).

27) The older I get, the more I value Girl’s Girls. Guy friends are so great, but sometimes your Anne just needs a Diana. Also: All of this.

28) Don’t sign up for a credit card when you’re 18. DON’T YOU EVER SIGN UP FOR A CREDIT CARD WHEN YOU’RE 18!

29) Never underestimate your ability to master new things.

30) Never underestimate your ability to make new friends.

31) Never underestimate your ability to start all over again.

32) I never really believed that anyone besides my closest friends would read my blog or buy my books. So I did those things just for me, just so *I* could have them. Since then, I’ve learned that’s the secret of success for just about everything. When I find myself caring more about how other people will like a thing rather than just making sure that I really like it, that’s when I’ve gotten off-track. Make stuff you love, even if you know you’re going to be the only one who loves it.

33) I love a good party, but I’m kind of an awful host. I never feel like I get enough quality time with everyone, and I worry that someone’s feelings were hurt because I didn’t talk to them enough, and I’m always too concerned about everyone else having a good time to really enjoy myself. I feel like, if I ever get married, I’m probably just going to set up a series of coffee dates with everyone I love instead of inviting them all to a big reception.

34) My Love Language is showing up.

35) My favorite people in the universe are the ones who are totally real about the fact that they’re not perfect. We’re all kind of a mess…the beauty comes in when we can accept that fact with humor and grace. For instance: Keri Russell fully admits to sometimes wearing the exact same outfit for a month straight. Isn’t that refreshing? I love that stuff. I could give a shit about a carefully constructed personal brand…I’m way more interested in the quirks that don’t fit the niche.

36) I don’t wanna be a naysayer, and I also don’t want to be around people who are. I wanna be a yaysayer. I wanna surround myself with people who create and dream and try new things and who support others in creating and dreaming and trying new things, too. If everything is energy, then I care very much about making sure my input and output is a thriving, magical, motivating thing.

And a few to grow on:

Never miss a chance to tell a friend that you’ve been thinking of them.

Stay far away from circle jerks. 

The best things you (read: I) can spend your money on are travel, tools for your art, and shared experiences.

Try to only fall in love with people who view your naked body as a wondrous thing vs. an improvement project.

You are always 100% responsible for creating your own life, whether you like it or not. 

//

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About Amber L.

Hi! I'm Amber. I've been telling stories with books and blogs since 2004. I also spent 10 years working as a behavior therapist, which I now put to proper use by publishing thought pieces and dissertations on '80s pop music and the defining TV shows of our current times ('The Bachelor', 'Vanderpump Rules', etc). I can also be credited with single-handedly ruining the city of Portland, OR just by moving here.

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