I’m Turning 37 Years Old: When Does That Confident Thing Happen?

I’m taking a quick break from our RV trip posts to talk about my thirty-seventh birthday. Even since I turned 35, I’ve felt like my birthdays are harbingers of a new elderly status. Like I’m on the decline with more back pain and less energy and forgetting my kids’ names (Lars? Juno? Wait, the two-legged one).

The last time I remember being sad about my age was when I turned 19 and knew I had 1 more year left to be a surly, angsty teenager. That melancholy lasted through turning 20 since nothing happens at 20. But then legal 21 came and I was happy to age for the next 14 years.

My friends who are older keep posting about feeling more confident and wise now.

I just think that things get easier as you get older and wiser and more experienced. You get more confident about who you are as you get older. I find that really comforting. - Rachel Weisz
Oh, you didn’t know Rachel Weisz and I are friends?

Maybe I’m in between the not-young and the wise. I am more confident in my parenting style and my priorities. I say “yes” and “no” more easily, and my schedule and life are much more inline with who I am today and who I want to be for my family because I don’t want to waste the time I have left.

But I lack confidence in other areas. I still have no idea how to dress for my age mostly because sweatpants are my spirit animal.

My hair is so ridiculous someone asked if I was my son’s big sister.

I wonder how much emphasis to put on a healthy life because I like potato chips and I no longer like running. How much do I give up when I’m almost halfway through my life? Will I regret that donut when I’m 81 years old or be grateful I lived my tastebuds to the fullest?

I finally miss things about being younger. I always had my own style (well by high school), but I had a lot more time to shop. I always had a big group of friends, but with all this talk of villages and parenting, the village of my youth was sleepovers and partying and moving away.  I have friends today whom I love, but I’m not as good at getting close to people anymore, or more accurately, staying close to people. I don’t know why this is but not having a crew shakes my confidence in making new friends. Or means I have to make new friends, which sucks because I’ve gotten really bad at small talk. What I think I really miss is having longterm friends nearby — I want to go to coffee with someone who has known me since before I had kids and could say: “Those shorts are very you, Alex.” Someone who knows my story.

As I’ve aged, what I thought would happen is I would be confident everywhere. “Who cares if I don’t know anyone at the party! I’ll either debate Kirkegaard or the 2016 presidential line-up.” “Who cares if all those moms at school pickup are talking! I’ll walk up to them and join in because I’m awesome.” “Who cares if I’m wearing a shorts from the junior section! I thought they were cute.”

My good friend always tells me to pay attention to what I have rather than what I don’t have, and I know I have so much at 37 years old. I have more than I need and should focus on taking better care of it, but I just wonder how old I have to get to feel confident enough to not be reminded of that.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

9 thoughts to “I’m Turning 37 Years Old: When Does That Confident Thing Happen?”

  1. Oh, my dear! I am probably your grandmother’s age (78) and my style d’jour is sweats or jeans. I have the same problems with friends. If you are confident in your parenting and priorities, that’s all you need. And kids’ names? Don’t ask! I had a patient with 10 kids (2 sets of twins +) and I asked her if she had trouble getting the right name out of the box….”No, I start at the top and when I get to the right kid he responds”. And I do that w/ the kids (2) and grandkids (3). Not to worry.

  2. Since my family birthdays and your family birthdays line up so perfectly, we tend to think the deep thoughts at the same time.

    Short answer, I don’t know.

    I’m turning forty in little over a week and for some reason I thought I’d have my act together by now. Friends express shock that I don’t think it’s together which means I’ve gotten very good at faking it and maybe that’s enough? I’m not certain…

    Happy birthday, though, dear lady. I wish for you happiness and laughter, only a few tears to make the first two sweeter, and many more adventures through life.

  3. I wasn’t quite there with the confidence at 37 but I did arrive eventually if that gives you any hope.
    I would say 40 was my pivotal year. I’ll be 47 next month. Yep.

    To this day I wash my long, wavy hair and let it air dry – sometimes I still put it in a ponytail – and I don’t much care if it looks too casual or unkempt or ridiculous. I wear a tank top and sweat pants almost every single day of my life and if not during the day, then definitely to sleep in. What little makeup I put on I buy at the grocery store in their cosmetics aisle. It’s cheap and I don’t have to mull over a lot of choices. Perfect.

    This is not to say I’m grungy or disgusting. Just casual. Extra casual. And I’m very happy like that.

    I spend a lot of time alone because small talk still bites and I’m content to read and write by myself most of the day and save up my personal interaction with just a few family members and friends.

    This might make me sound like an unfashionable, unsociable hermit. But I don’t care.
    and I’m not just saying that. I think people like me anyway. Or maybe because of it.

    Take heart. You have other spirit animals in sweatpants admiring you from afar.
    And Happy Birthday, Alex. For the record, I think you’re extraordinary.

  4. I resonated with this article. I have so many fewer friends now and, when once we all just joined together to party, now i doubt whether people really want to hamg out at all because we are all so damn busy. But at the same time, i dont really want to make the effort either. Circles of friends have defined me for ao long and now everyones somewhere else. I worry that im becoming boring but also would just rather stay home and chill out. Oh the qualms of turning 37. I am more grateful for my partner and my family than ever before. I do appreciate what i have a lot more than ever before, even as ive lost so many networkS of friends.

  5. I’ll be 37 in March and I think I’m confidentISH. I certainly don’t sweat the marriage and kids thing and that’s probably what makes co-workers and friends think I’m self-assured but work wise I still don’t know where to go

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