I'm In My Mid-30s, And I'm Having An Identity Crisis

by Ashley Kleisinger
Originally Published: 
A mid-thirty woman tying her shoelaces on All Starts Converse sneakers
Can Anh Khai / PEXELS

I’ve recently recognized that my mid-30s has brought on a serious identity crisis, and I feel compelled to write about it. I hope and pray others are struggling with the same predicament I find myself in, and perhaps can offer some advice, encouragement, or at the very least, commiseration.

It has been in the past five or so years, as I have found myself leaving my 20s behind and walking head-on into my 30s, that I have felt a sense of confusion, if you will. This confusion is characterized by the mixed desire to be both a teenager/early 20-something, sporting Chucks and browsing through the racks of Forever 21, and following that up with a funny deer-faced snap about food-court dining; and the complete opposite desire to be pushing my toddler in a cart through the aisles of Stein Mart, searching out the elusive thick, practical leggings my mom bought me last year that nearly reach my bra and serve as both Spanx and acceptable, comfortable work attire. This would be followed up with reading over my child’s speech IEP while enjoying a hot cup of tea, naturally.

The struggle is so real, friends.

I want to spend my days sending my friends inappropriate F-bomb memes, yet also have lengthy conversations with my husband about the reality of sexual abuse and children as my daughter reaches the slumber party phase.

I want to drink my kids’ Kool-Aid Jammers accompanied by microwaved Lunchables pizzas, but also have my husband pick me up a fresh, light goat cheese salad on the way home from work.

I want to binge on Full House while watching the Instagram stories of celebrities, but I also want to switch out my purse with the new cross-body Liz Claiborne one my mother-in-law just gifted me for Christmas. Liz Claiborne, people (and I love that gold-plated thing).

I don’t even know who I am anymore, and the constant switching between this lazy, somewhat self-absorbed and trendy 20-something, and the more organized, respectable, and responsible 34-year-old mother I should be — well, it’s got me trippin’ folks.

And the embarrassing realization that I am 34 and just used the phrase “got me trippin'” is not lost on me. I mean, I should probably go stuff my mouth with Sour Patch Kids.

Writing this has been therapeutic for me, though, so I’d like to rescind my initial plea for advice over how to handle this particular predicament I find myself in. Having put it all in writing, it seems clear to me that full ownership of either identity, singly, is downright sad.

I mean, who wants to be known as the “always trying to be hip” old lady mom?

And the latter — well, I just can’t personally accept all things Macy’s, Family Circle, and true adulting just yet.

I feel like I would have to turn in my lifetime supply of SpaghettiOs and steam clean my couch at least once a year. I mean, c’mon, what the hell is that even?!

So don’t mind me, over here in the corner, teetering somewhere between the two identities I have come to both love and hate, and feel free to come hang if you’re a kindred spirit. I’ll reevaluate my identity crisis come 40 or 50.

Or not.

Sportin’ Chucks seems to be the only way to approach menopause, and I think I’ll just stay twirnty–something for life.

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