My husband and I will be turning 35 within the next few weeks. So tonight at dinner we started discussing how we felt about it. In spite of the common belief that everybody should bemoan getting older and want to stay young forever, we agreed that neither of us would like to go back to the age of, say, twenty for anything in the world.
Fifteen years ago I was plagued by all kinds of insecurities (and who isn't at that age?). I felt unattractive and fat, even though I weighed less than I do now. I had no idea who I was or what I wanted out of life. I was in a marriage that wasn't making me happy for the simple reason that I had no idea what I needed to be happy in a relationship. I often spent time with people I neither liked nor needed because I did not have the skills that would allow me to be in charge of my social life. Asperger's wasn't a word I knew. I just felt that something was wrong and broken about me and it had to be concealed at all costs. I was stupid and anti-intellectual and proud to be so. I still remember my passionate diatribes as to how philosophy was a total waste of time and learning Latin completely useless because it wasn't going to help me make money. Sexually, most people are profoundly miserable at that age because they have no mechanisms that allow them to choose the partners they really want as opposed to the partners who are available.
So if there has been such a dramatic improvement in how I feel about myself and about my life over the past 15 years, then the next couple of decades are likely to bring about a similar improvement. This is why I believe that age should be celebrated rather than bemoaned.
The only people who are genuinely happier at 20 than at 35 are, in my opinion, children of millionaires. While at twenty it is very cool to do nothing but spend the family money, when you are in your mid-thirties it becomes unprestigious and shameful.