Hello 35.

First off, it’s really nice to meet you. I’ve looked forward to meeting you for the past few months. There’s something about the age 35 that just says “Hi, this is me” that I am ready to embrace.

I have to say though, you’re not exactly who I thought you would be. You’re more independent and self-reliant than I thought you would be. You’re someone that has a career you adore and a work crew that you have no idea how you would survive work without. You got into public libraries right after college and have never looked back. Your affinity for yearning and people is what makes the library such a fulfilling place for you. You manage your branch?? Which is honestly pretty cool and you don’t really give yourself enough credit for the work you’ve done to become the leader that you are. I need you to be better about that.

You have so many people in your friends and family who care about you and love you without expectations. They embrace you as you are and are there for you–even though you feel like sometimes you don’t deserve it. Let me tell you something, you DO deserve it. Love is not transactional, babe, love is not something that is only bestowed on the worthy. Love is the safe space you provide someone and everyone deserves that safe space. I need you to believe that you’re the same to your friends and family that they are to you.

35, I’ll be honest–I was not expecting you not to have met any of the “milestones” that most of your friends have. You’re not married, you don’t have kids, and you don’t own a home. I know it makes you feel like sometimes you’re in some sort of arrested development, like you’re not really the age you are (your body would tell you otherwise). But 1) like fuck “milestones” because that’s just another word for societal expectations you’re not obligated to meet. 2) I’m actually proud of you for not meeting these milestones because it means you haven’t done anything that doesn’t feel good to you. I mean you might do these things one day, right? But not before you’re ready and absolutely sure.

I also want to say I’m proud of you for starting therapy. I know you were worried initially that you wouldn’t have anything to talk about, but your therapist is helping you interpret all the thoughts going through your mind and helping you think about who you are as a person, and you need that. Also, it’s just nice to word vomit to an unbiased professional, you know? Therapy doesn’t have to be just for processing trauma; it can help you make sense of the world and your place in it.

Speaking of your therapist, she’s helping you with your self-esteem, which I think deep down you know you needed. You compare yourself to others a lot and she’s asking you what good does that do for you. And you know what? It doesn’t do any good so you might as well stop doing it. 35 is the year to only do things that serves ourselves.

I know I don’t tell you this a lot (if at all), but I do love you. I think you are stronger, funnier, and kinder than I ever thought you could be. You’re smart, you’re curious, you’re open to changing your mind and admitting when you were wrong; Your body can still move in the way you want it to–you can run a decent mile and still bend and move pretty easily. But honestly, I need you to love your body more. Your body is cute and it does what you need it to do–that should be enough.

35, I know you’re going to be great. You’ve got a lot of history behind you that has led you to be who you are today. But I am so excited to see who you will become in the year to come.

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