I recently texted a friend ‘Happy birthday!!’ And he replied ‘I’m 38. What have I done with my life? Al Capone was retired from the mob by 33.’
I empathised with my friend. Being 35 myself, and from what I observed from my friends in a similar age bracket, I think it might be quite common to experience a third-life crisis. I definitely experienced a crisis at 25 – after my dad telling me now I was an adult I would have to start brushing my hair frequently, I panicked about life’s expectations of me and bought an arcade machine and got a tattoo in my bathing suit area.
I think something about being in your mid-thirties makes you stop and wonder how the hell you got where you are now. We are plagued with the fear we haven’t achieved enough. We compare ourselves to the geniuses that make the headlines and the history books. Mozart was 35 when he died. Audrey Hepburn was 32 when she starred in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Bill Gates was a billionaire by age 30. Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain were all dead at 27. Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone at 29. The geezer who discovered the atom was 28. Orson Welles directed Citizen Kane at age 25. I mean, even Justin Bieber is rumoured to be retiring and I am pretty sure he is still 12.
So you ask yourself the following questions at this age: Have you achieved enough? Are you married or thinking about marriage with your partner purely because dating them and being the appropriate age to marry coincided? Or because of that arsehole biological clock? What the frik happened to your waistline? Did you actually choose your career? Or did you just land upon it due to a series of chance events? Is it actually what you want to do? Is there time to re-train before the kids come along and life levels up in terms of obligation? Are you drinking so much prosecco because you like it and have finally reached a stage in life where you can can swagger past the Lambrini and confidently reach for the second-cheapest bottle? Or have you in fact developed a mild case of acceptable middle-class alcohol dependency? Will you live to regret your Super Mario tattoos (yes, plural)?
I’ll let you know if I find any answers for you.
On the plus side, one thing I am loving about my 30s is caring less about what people who don’t matter think of me, and more about those who do. And yelling at kids who ask me to buy them cigarettes or alcohol outside the off-licence.