The Magic Number 33


Happiness

Happiness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When was that point in your life when you felt the happiest, the most fulfilled, the most comfortable? Have you gotten there yet?  Are you there now?

Are you still waiting?  Or do you wish you could go back in time?

I was recently discussing all the ways in which my 30s have been better than my 20s with my much younger (still in her 20s!) sister-in-law.  Attempting to reassure her that turning the big 3-0 was not the beginning of the end as she feared, I described all of the ways in which my 30s have been superior to my 20s.  The biggest argument in my arsenal was that, despite the carefree, fun, and relatively hassle-free days of my 20s, what I remember most about my 20s is a constant nagging, unsettled feeling.

I remember that the relaxed, lighthearted nature of my 20s as largely offset by a series of pesky questions and uncertainties.  Would I get married?  If so, when would my then-boyfriend (now husband) propose?  What would the wedding be like?  Would I have kids?  Would I get pregnant easily or would it be a struggle?  How many kids would we have?  Would I be a good mother?

So many questions, so few answers, and so little within my control.

But now, in my mid-30s, I feel so…settled… happy… calm.  Many of the questions and uncertainties of my 20s have been answered.  My then-boyfriend (now husband) did propose, the wedding was  everything I had hoped it would be, we have two delightfully precocious children, and on most days I feel like I’m a pretty goo

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d mom.

Yes, by all measures, my thirties have rocked.  And, apparently, I am not alone in my love for the fourth decade of my life.  I was delighted when my sister-in-law recently forwarded me this article, reporting the results of a recent study by Friends Reunited, a British social-networking site, finding that 70% of respondents over the age of 40 claimed they were not truly happy until they reached 33. 

According to the article, the happiness felt at the age of 33 is a result of professional fulfillment, a developed support network of family and friends, the birth of children, and the shaking off of “childhood naiveté and the wild scheming of teenaged years without [the loss of] the energy and enthusiasm of youth.”

Upon reading this article, I smugly thought, that’s what I was saying!  This article reinforces all of my arguments that a woman’s 30s are better than her 20s.

But then I thought, wait a minute.  I am over the age of 33.  Does that mean that it’s all downhill from here?

And that thought nagged at me for the past several days.  Then it dawned on me.  It wasn’t necessarily the achievement of certain life milestones – marriage, children, and “settling down” – that has been responsible for the comfortable bliss of my mid-30s.  It has been the realization of self-confidence, independence, self-awareness, patience, and fortitude that have peaked in my 30s which have provided the contented harmony of recent years.

It was not in the answering of the questions of my 20s that created the happiness of my 30s.  In fact, life is always filled with questions, uncertainties, challenges, and unknowns.  Rather, it was in realizing the joy that comes from challenges and uncertainties that has facilitated the peaceful happiness of my 30s.

We are different people at different times in our lives.  As we age, we grow and we learn.  We realize that we are capable of so much more than we ever thought possible.  We realize that we should stop waiting for an unknown future event to make us happy.  We realize that we can choose to make today the day that we are happy.   And those realizations can happen at any age and they do not need to diminish as we age.

And in that, I suppose in that way we can be 33 forever.  At least 70% of us. 

When was that point in your life when you felt the happiest?  Are you there now?  Are you still waiting?  Do you wish you could go back to a younger age?

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6 Responses to The Magic Number 33

  1. Lori says:

    Yep, I completely agree. The only thing I miss from my 20’s is my smoother skin and smaller mid-section. (ha ha) For me I didn’t hit the bliss moment until 35, mostly because that was when I was able to leave a job that sucked the life out of me. I’ve always been a huge fan of birthdays, mainly because I truly feel every year is better than the last. If this holds true I CANNOT wait to turn 80-90-100! If I feel like everything is pretty darn good now, what will these ages hold? It makes me giddy to think about it.

  2. Yes, totally agree. I, too, am in my thirties with two kids. I feel like I didn’t know true happiness until my first son was born. Since that time, I’ve broken my life into two sections — 1)pre children and 2)the start of my life (that being when my son was born).

    In addition to them giving me pure joy (and yes, headaches), I also think i’m happier now because I’m wiser. As we age, we come to see what really matters. We see joy in the little things rather than waiting around for that big thing to happen. I can only hope my 40s will bring even more self awareness.

    Great post! Thanks!

  3. I am 41 and agree — the 30s are GREAT. It’s a time of so much more self-confidence than the 20s for many of us. (But the 40s are turning out to be pretty great too; I actually look better than a few years ago!)

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