There’s a coarse, dark hair that grows underneath my chin. It’s been there for a few years now, and no matter how many times I pluck it, it always manages to come back.
Between attacks with my tweezers, I can feel it like a singular sharp whisker — except these days, it’s not so singular. Because while my one stubborn chin hair used to be a joke amongst friends, it has now added a few siblings along my cheeks, my stomach, and my breasts.
Yes, my breasts.
My tweezers and I have a date every other night or so, searching for errant hairs my body now needs to be rid of. And I’ve come to realize that long gone are the peach fuzz days of my youth. Whatever hormonal atrocities are occurring inside my body, this is 35.
It’s not just the hair, though. I’ve also started to develop vitiligo. It began under my armpits and was something I laughed about at first — because what the heck, why would I care about my armpits losing pigmentation? But now it’s moved to my hands and my doctors says there’s not much that can be done.
One of my male friends has it as well, only a much more advanced case than mine. He told me his doctor joked with him that it’s a good thing he’s married, as the white spots move to his face.
I’m not married; never have been. But I’m now seriously starting to wonder whether most people lock down life-partners in their twenties before anything gets a chance to start breaking down.
In the last two years, I’ve somehow put on about 35 pounds I can’t even begin to explain. My diet hasn’t changed. In fact, I actually eat better now than ever before — mostly because my stomach has started twisting at anything too creamy or spicy or carb-filled. My old lady guts can’t handle the good stuff I used to happily indulge in. And while I remain active every day, the pounds keep stacking on.
I’ve visited a few doctors. After blood work and full check-ups, they’ve all concluded the same: “You’re getting older,” they say, “This is just what your mid-thirties look like.”
(For some reason, none of them seem to exhibit the level of fear I think they should when muttering those words my direction.)
Meanwhile, I have a mortgage and a career I love. I own my car outright and my daughter is about to start kindergarten. Long-gone are my days of bar-hopping and one-night-stands. In fact, I feel pretty darn tipsy after a single glass of wine these days. And if I were to get pregnant today, the doctors would label it a “geriatric pregnancy” without a blink.
This is 35.
Everyone talks about 40 as though that’s the age when everything changes. But I’m pretty sure it’s actually your mid-thirties when things truly start to go downhill.
Not in a depressing way; in a funny way. A way you can laugh about, you know?
Because the truth is, I am laughing. I used to be the girl in her twenties with the fit body and the glowing skin who swore up and down she would never let herself go in motherhood. Underneath I was insecure and a little bit crazy, prone to drunken binges and outbursts that left me wanting to crawl under my sheets and hide for weeks at a time.
And now here I am, more than willing to go out in public in a hoodie and messy bun, rarely concerned about whether I should put eyeliner on or who I might run into. I’m never embarrassed anymore and I don’t make crazy decisions without thinking.
I’m just … comfortable.
Because that’s the thing about this age — as my 35-year-old body has rebelled against me, my confidence has also somehow soared. Okay, maybe not soared, but at least risen a few notches from the days when I was obsessed with attaining the unattainable perfection I was sure my youth had promised me. I don’t necessarily love my bigger body (and I definitely don’t love the extra hair), but I’m okay with it. I know I’m strong and healthy and active, and I rarely look in the mirror and feel disgust.
Instead, it’s more often contentment I embrace — which is surely better than anything I ever felt about myself while young and obsessed with my own image.
Thirty-five has brought me a level of financial stability I didn’t know I would ever achieve. Instead of worrying from month to month how I might pay my bills, I’m putting money away for retirement and my daughter’s education and even some really fun vacations I never could have afforded 10 or even five years ago.
Thirty-five has allowed me to settle into friendships that now seem more focused on our kids and family lives rather than partying and hooking up — a shift that’s made room for deeper connections I value more than you could know.
But most of all, 35 has brought on an acceptance of myself. I’m comfortable in my own skin for what feels like the first time in my life.
I’m confident. I’m content. I’m happy.
(So long as you don’t take away my tweezers.)