The truth about the backwards side of 30

35.

I don’t feel 35. I don’t act 35. But today I am 35, and if my calculations are correct Marty McFly and Doc should arrive just in time for my party tonight. Truthfully, there is no party planned. No friends coming over. That’s the crappy thing about getting older – birthdays go from annual throw downs to a simple get together at the milestone decades. I’ve started to realize I can’t hang like I used to, but neither can my friends. The nights (and wee hours of the morning) in clubs and bars have come to pass, and I look forward to a quiet night in with a glass of wine and the 80s station on the radio.

As I realized that I am in my mid-30s, I look at my mother. I was 15 when she was 35. I still can’t fathom having a baby, much less a child of driving age in high school. But that’s where a lot of my friends are. My Facebook feed has gone from drunken party pics to wedding albums to newborn pics to teens with their homecoming dates.

But mine really hasn’t changed.

I’m still posting stories – though now it’s from this blog as opposed to a story on an explosion at a military base or shooting at a convenience store. I’m still posting random song lyrics from the 80s and 90s. I’m still posting my love of the Miami Dolphins and hatred of Tom Brady. I’m still posting funny photos and memes about random things.

I never wondered what I would be doing at 35 when I was younger. I’ve always lived my life day-to-day – which is why I now find myself in a university classroom surrounded by people whose parents are close to the same age as me. I would rather spend my free time with my professors than my classmates.

Despite two ex-husbands and a (former) career in a dying industry, I can honestly say I have no regrets. I’ve never done anything the orthodox way, and I’ve come to embrace that about myself.

The struggles I’ve faced and experiences I’ve had made me the woman I am today – and I’m pretty damn happy with myself. I’ve done and accomplished so much already, and I feel like I’m really only just beginning.

I am essentially starting over in my mid-30s. Sometimes I feel as though I’ve wasted so much time on people, relationships, jobs, locations… Then I realize that I’ve finally grown up and figured what I really want out of life and where I want to be – and it took all of those experiences to figure it out.

I may be starting over, but I’m starting over with life experience from so many directions that is priceless. When I do graduate, I’ll be starting over with an impressive resume of experience and awards – not just some typical college student job like those of which I share classrooms. I’m starting over with experience in working with everyone from politicians and educators to engineers and law enforcement. I’m starting over with the support of a significant other who has encouraged me in every step of this scholastic journey. I’m starting over with an appreciation for my parents and family and the values they instilled in me that have carried me this far.

But it was journalism that threw me into the real world – the real world in which I finally grew up. I learned more in that world than I ever will in the next 18 months as I finish my degree. And I’ll appreciate that degree more than if I had obtained it at 22 like so many. I’ve already paid my dues, and in keeping with my tradition of taking the path less traveled, now I’m paying my tuition.

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