35 and Thriving: Embracing Life with Grit and Gratitude

Happy birthday to me! I started writing my 35th birthday reflections in bed the night before my birthday and I gotta tell ya, I’m pretty giddy. Because by the time you read this, it will be my 35th year around the sun. It feels like it’s gonna be a good one. But not in the way you think…

I have to go to work. I will be in the office, spending a jam packed day in meetings, breaking for some Botox with my girl Michelle at The Fitz, and then back to my desk for an equally full afternoon.

And as average (or even nightmarish) as that may sound to some of you, it’s literally what 15-year old me dreamt my life would be like at 35:

A woman with her handsome, loving husband and adorable bear of a dog living in the city. Having meetings in a swanky office in a buzzy neighborhood. She’s using her lunch hour to hail a cab to get her Botox and a quick nosh from a trendy coffee spot. All complete with a day-to-night look straight outta Cosmo because her husband is taking her out for Italian that evening. Eat your heart out, Carrie Bradshaw.

35 birthday reflection: I am beyond blessed and endlessly grateful.

It took a long time to get here. I had a lot of battles with inner and outer demons—especially in the last few years—and what felt like a really bumpy patch turned into a pretty rough ride. I had relationships that came and some that had to go.

Career paths not followed (despite my best efforts), teams I adored, and jobs (ahem, managers) that were really reeeeally terrible. The world was full of horrible headlines and not enough puppy vids to ease the stress.

I had some health things that were challenging but thankfully nothing that couldn’t be managed. I made the best of it all when i could, and broke through my Zoloft when i couldn’t.

What I’m continuously surprised and proud of though, is thinking about how I’m not the only one who is arriving at this moment. I look around and see so many people who are living their lives in a way that would make their younger selves SO proud.

You’re chasing (and achieving) dreams, climbing ladders, raising little activists, traveling the world, staying educated and involved—and still at the end of the day, having fun through it all. It’s simply beautiful.

And as I come to this moment that labels me as officially “middle aged” I’m less daunted than I once was.

Because us elder millennials? We have not only survived but we have lived. The last 35 years have been a really weird and transitional era as pivotal as the Industrial Revolution.

It’s put us in place of constant crossroads and I think despite all the trauma of certain uncertainty and persistent change, it’s made reaching this year and feeling content with where we’re at, something to be cherished.

35th birthday reflection: I’m proud of all of us for getting here.

If you’re reading this you’re either my bestie, my husband, or someone i probably met on instagram. As a person with a little internet community that is in large part mostly strangers, I still find that when I celebrate a win (like a sense of peace with my lot in life), we all kind of celebrate in an “all-for-one” sort of way.

And I love that.

We have hard days together, laugh at memes together, we talk about cultural happenings and experience news together. And while the idea that “my internet friends get it” might sound a little odd to some, in reality, I find it incredibly cool that we’re able to connect in this way.

So in a way, I’ll say happy birthday to you, too.

So what’s the plan for 35?

As I thought about my 35th birthday reflections, a few things came to mind. There’s no grand gesture. and ideally no happy birthday song (it’s so gloomy!) I have things i want of course, but it’s less of “a plan” and more of a general guide-rail for the direction I’d like things to move in. There are places i want to go, and naps i want to take.

And the rest is (do i dare say, unwritten? IYKYK) a bonus. I will work long days, i will cry over pants on mornings I feel bloated. I will find dog hair everywhere and I will be hungover from one too many glasses of wine.

But I’ll also share memes that make me cackle, use the phrase from Anti-hero way too much, venture to new places and take 80,000 more photos of Lemon doing literally nothing.

And I am content with both of those things happening. I mean I could go without the bloating thing but it is what it is.

Ultimately, this is really what we wish for when we’re young: a sense of peace and contentment. Like we’ve found a place that we belong in the world without friction.

But I’m open to both the good and the less good. it’s life, and I’ll take the less good if it means I get more of the great every once in a while. Really I’ve found that most of my coolest opportunities and even memories are from just being open to possibilities.

Taking a chance and seeing how it goes. In all the places I’ve failed—and there have been plenty—I’ve always come out on the other side grateful for the lessons. they make the wins (and even the tie games) a little sweeter… eventually!

So 35, you’re going to be my wildcard. Let’s see what the world has in store for us this next rotation, shall we? I hope you take time for some of your own 35th birthday reflections or whatever birthday you’re celebrating this year!

Cheers, friends.

Blogger, Jess of Scotch and the Fox seated along the Seine with a bottle of champagne