Age 35—taking the spring out of your chicken

 A BUSINESS JOURNAL

Age 35—taking the spring out of your chicken

By Robyn Davis Sekula

January 7, 2007

I am no longer a spring chicken.

I am what you might generously call a summer chicken. Or, more realistically, a late summer/early autumn chicken. An Indian summer, pardon me, a Native American summer chicken.

At the age of 35, I'm officially not young anymore. With my birthday in November, I've reached the point at which I've passed most of the major milestones that I had set out to obtain when I was, in fact, a spring chicken (which, to me, is roughly until you turn 30 or maybe a little later). In fact, my life may very well be half over.

But let's review the accomplishments, shall we?

College degree? Check.

Marriage? Check.

Kids? Check. (three times)

Career? Check.

Pulitzer Prize? Uh, no. And that's OK.

Published first novel? No. But that's still obtainable.

Thirty-five doesn't sound like much of a milestone. We think of 40 as the big cut-off between young and not-so-young. But 35 is the bigger mile marker, in my opinion. At 35, you've probably got kids, a spouse, a career, and you're even discussing, in great depth, things like life insurance and retirement planning.

You are absolutely daunted by the idea of paying for your children's education. You understand that having health insurance is critical, and you wouldn't dream of not having it.

Your college days no longer are something you wistfully wish to revisit because you understand those days are best left to the young. You begin to clean up your language, mainly because you don't want to hear your 3-year-old imitating it, especially when she's talking to her grandma.

In those ways, 35 is a smart age. It's perfect in a lot of ways. I understand a lot that I didn't when I was 22.

But 35 is also the threshold of what begins to feel old. It's when you begin flipping channels and wondering when someone's going to create shows for you.

Well, guess what: they aren't. On my soap, "All My Children," characters that I relate to, the mothers and fathers in the group, are getting the boot to make way for whiny, silly teen-agers designed to attract the next generation.

And reality TV? Well, much to my angst, it looks like it's here to stay.

I'm afraid 35 is when you graduate to the next box on any form that asks for your "age range." You're no longer in that coveted 18-to-34-year-old group that advertisers desperately want to attract. Top-40 music is lost on me. I have to seek out more interesting, diverse choices through WFPK-FM or other venues.

Thirty-five is when you hear a car thumping its bass down your street and you think, or even say, "Those &#^%$ kids!" If you accompany it with a fist shake, you might be approaching 40.

Thirty-five, too, is when all of those crammed, brightly lit mall stores selling cute things with spaghetti straps begin to look silly, and you wonder where the clothes are for people who really would prefer not to uncover their navel, anytime, ever, except when showering.

For me, this is a great age. Yeah, I'm getting older. But I can make a lot more sense of the world now than I could in my 20s. I understand now that unpleasant or uncomfortable experiences will not last, and how to balance those unpleasant parts of life (twin infants crying at the same time) with the happy ones (the laughter of my 3-year-old).

I also understand now that it's up to me to take charge of situations I want to see change and change them.

Thirty-five is a time to ask yourself if you are where you want to be and chart a new course if you aren't there. Time's a-wasting!