Jason Bateman. Mozart. And Why Milestone Birthdays Like 35 Freak People Out

Milestone birthdays come along with those hard “where am I in my life right now?” questions. You get called on your bullshit and recall you're not immortal.

Don’t get me wrong. I knew I was turning 35. It’s usually what you expect after your 34th birthday. But I didn’t know I was turning 35 until two months before the actual Aug. 4 occasion. I was sitting at my computer in June feeling like QuickBooks was giving me a proper Leonidas, Spartan kick to my chest when I looked at my bank balance. I’ve only been running my startup full-time for one year and suddenly I’m thirty-freaking-five!

Wasn’t I supposed to have amassed a huge amount of cash by now? Aren’t Jason Bateman and I supposed to be living in a comfy house with three bedrooms, two cars and children running around? (Let’s face it, ladies. Our husbands never turn out to look like the other Jason – Jason Statham.)

Instead I’m in a two-bedroom apartment slaving over my laptop and working until the wee hours of the morning jacked up on caffeine. My life is in flux as I invest all of my pennies into my dream startup and stress over news stories and determined publicists looking to get their clients some ink. There is no man in my life per se. Well, unless you count the guy at Dunkin’ Donuts who gives me my coffee just the way I like it.

I have a son who is gearing up for his last year of high school and, dare I say it, getting ready to get behind a steering wheel and meanwhile I’m over here like, “but were Rachel and Ross really on a break?”

You know what freaks me out about age 35? Not knowing if I am any closer to all of the things I promised myself I would try to do in my lifetime:

  • Visit Spain.
  • Catch a US Open game.
  • Get married. (Me getting married is on my mother’s list, too. She reminds me. OFTEN.)
  • Publish a book.
  • Get an investor.
  • And then there’s some really explicit stuff that involves Idris Elba, a loofah and that shower scene from the film “No Good Deed.”

When I was a kid people in their 30s seemed so … adult. Like they had their shit together. Now I’m wondering if they were just good at keeping up appearances. Maybe you always feel like a slightly refined 23-year-old version of yourself. Kind of like those viral videos that show you how to tie a shawl 20 different ways, but at the end of the day it’s still the same shawl.

Milestone birthdays come along with those hard “where am I in my life right now?” questions. They make you feel a little uncomfortable because they also call you out on all of those “other” checklist items you said you were going to get around to:

  • Wellness
  • Mending or ending relationships
  • Spending habits
  • Procrastinations

The life that I have is the one I’ve wanted. Sure I haven’t done everything I’ve wanted to do. Who has? Could it be that the brilliance of a new day is its potential? I was reading something the other day that reminded me of this: “The very fact that God has granted a person a single additional day of bodily life means that he has not yet concluded his mission in life, that there is still something for him to achieve in this world.”

Mozart died at 35 in 1791 and left behind a legacy of musical masterpieces. Even if it wasn’t his favorite piece, this final piece of music he wrote held a significant distinction … it was the last he was destined to compose.

That’s the thing about 34. It seems like you have plenty of time to achieve everything. Then 35 comes around and reminds you that time is the only thing that can be used up and not replaced. One day you’ll do something and it’ll be the last thing you do.

I don’t know about you, but that sure makes me want to make all of my moments – even the small ones – great.

About the author

Natasha Zena

Around age eight Natasha Zena was told it was a woman’s job to take care of the home and since then she has built a career out of telling women they can do whatever the hell they want to do. She is the co-founder of Lioness, the go-to news source for everything female entrepreneur. Natasha was recognized as an emerging leader in digital media by The Poynter Institute and the National Association of Black Journalists. She has mentored women entrepreneurs and moderated panels at a number of national accelerators, Startup Weekends and conferences such as The Lean Startup Conference, the Massachusetts Conference for Women, Women Empower Expo and Smart Cities Connect. Natasha is also the author of the popular whitepaper, "How To Close The Gender Gap In Startup Land By 2021." In her spare time, she writes short fiction and hangs out with her son, Shaun.

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