Today is my 35th birthday. Last year I told you about 34 things I still don’t know, and the year before that, I told you about 33 things you’ll know by the time you’re 33. This year has been a particularly rough one for me, but I think I’d like to tell you about 35 unexpected pleasures of adulthood…
1. That in general, the fewer fucks you give about how much people like you, the more people like you.
2. The thing where you used to swear when you were a kid that when you were a grown-up you were going to eat nothing but ice cream for supper? You can totally do that. Unless you’ve developed adult-onset lactose intolerance. In that case, go with froyo.
3. The phrase, “I’m a grown ass woman. I don’t have to take this shit.”
6. Ownership — of a house, a car, or just your own decisions.
7. The many, many opportunities for learning that don’t go away after school is over.
8. Choosing the people you’d like to spend the most time with, based on whatever criteria you want to use.
11. Being equipped to help a friend in a real way.
12. Learning to accept real help from your friends.
13. That eventually, hangovers are too traumatic for most of us, and we’d prefer a quiet night on someone’s back porch over wild all-night bar-hopping debauchery.
14. Dirty jokes.
15. Disneyland. You guys, it’s even more fun as an adult. No kidding.
16. Not being too proud for Tylenol, epsom salts, and Bengay.
17. Loving yourself more as the years pass — your body, your quirks, even your mistakes.
18. The bravery to try literally anything with your hair.
19. Being allowed to read the kind of books you actually like to read without fear of being graded or judged.
21. Really good friends.
22. The adult siblings that tortured you (or were tortured by you) as kids, but have grown into interesting, complicated, wonderful people.
23. That age differences between friends matter so much less.
24. Niblings. (This is the gender-neutral term for nieces and nephews, I shit you not.)
25. Being friends with your parents, and also still being allowed to be their baby when you need your mommy and daddy.
26. Romance novels.
27. Jeans that are stretchy. (Are you old enough to remember when jeans weren’t stretchy? Those were dark times.)
28. That Animaniacs is so much funnier now.
29. That there is a thing called binge-watching and it’s socially acceptable.
30. Still getting carded occasionally at bars.
31. That you never, ever have to go through middle school again.
32. That the things you want start to align more closely with the things you already have.
33. That there will never stop being things that are new and breath-taking to see or hear or share or learn.
34. Laughing, crying, generally emoting more freely.
35. Getting older every year, and finally realizing that it beats the alternative.