Sunday, February 14, 2021


Tomorrow is my birthday.

I know I've said it before, but it's hard to talk about aging without repeating this: I never felt sad about hitting 30. Even though I grew up on sitcoms that made a big deal out of turning 30, and these days we're inundated with memes about how age starts to catch up with us when we've said goodbye to 29, I felt like being in my 30s was kind of great.

Danny Tanner was 30 in season one of Full House, and he was already a neat-freak widower with three kids. The cast of Friends was supposed to be in their early 20s. No one was cool after 30 on 90s tv shows! 

The memes make me laugh, but I didn't really relate to them, maybe because I didn't feel 30...or 31, 32, 33, or 34. Mentally, I've felt 28 for the last four years. Despite 2020 being a total shit-show, I didn't feel my 34th year was wasted, especially because I finally fulfilled my dream of leaving education and moving to Seattle.

I love being in my 30s. I feel like I truly know my own mind — I know who I am and what I want, and that knowledge has made me more confident than ever. And you know what goes hand-in-hand with confidence and self-awareness? Well, you really stop caring about what other people think. It's a totally wonderful kind of freedom.

TBH, I've heard turning 40 is even better.

I've spent the last few months exploring who I am without the pressure and distraction of a stressful job clouding my thoughts. I took a self-imposed sabbatical (that's what I'm calling six months of unemployment during a pandemic and cross-country move) that gave me perspective, balance, and a renewed sense of what I want from my life. Generally, 34 was pretty great.

But around November, things started to feel different. I realized I'd be 35, truly mid-30s, and for some reason, that was scary. And, because I'd never before dreaded a birthday, I spun out a bit. I began to worry that this fear and unhappiness would be the new norm, and that I'd never enjoy a birthday again.

Last year I spent my birthday out in public — unmasked! — with friends. I wish this year could have a similar vibe.

I went into hyper-awareness-mode. I started to notice that I'm getting wrinkles, despite using retinol and sunscreen religiously since I turned 25. I'm noticing some changes in my face that I didn't expect to see, seemingly overnight. I honestly think I'm the fittest and strongest I've ever been, but I also realize I'm entering the age where women start to become invisible. Some women embrace that, because they no longer feel they have to perform for society and can finally be comfortable being themselves, but after a year of being cooped up in the house and the start of a new career, I don't welcome invisibility.

And honestly, I think part of what made me start to feel old in November was the culmination of years of exhausting, brutal, depressing politics that left me in a state of constant stress and fear.

We are still living in uncertain times, but I have hope that year 35 is going to feel a little less apocalyptic than 34 did.

So, looking ahead to my birthday, I want to focus on the good: a new era in government that will hopefully usher in some real social changes; a new location; a new career; and feeling healthier and more fulfilled than ever.

I may be stuck at home most of the time, but I'm not going to let this year pass me by.

My intention for this year is to fully embrace the new attitude and energy I discovered in the latter half of my 34th year. This is a year of newness and growth. It's a milestone year, and I want to make it all it can be.



  1. NEVER dread a birthday! If you're alive, you have birthdays! And, the years you will wish you still in, are all ahead of you! I loved my forties! And when I turned 50, your Grandma wished she were 50 again! Enjoy every single age!

  2. Ahh, my friend, you are a long way from becoming a middle-aged invisible person! You look so young and fresh-faced, you are so fit and energetic, age is so much just a number in your case it's hilarious. Keep inspiring us to do better. Love you and happy birthday! Ange

  3. Happy birthday, Ali. It's only going up from here. I felt like I really started to grow into my own more and more AFTER 35.... and there are so many "older" women role models to look up to and see that they're NOT invisible at all!

    1. I am hearing this POV a lot, which makes me feel better. Maybe 35 is a rude awakening but everything that comes after is great!