At 35, I Still Eat Cake For Breakfast

Pairs Well With…”Act as young as you feel.  You’re not getting older, you’re getting more entitled to be your fabulous self.” – Gwen Stefani

I love birthdays. If I have to get specific, my birthday. Growing up, we had a tradition in my house that you got to eat cake for breakfast on your birthday.  At 35, I still eat cake for breakfast.

Cake for Carin's Birthday

Today is my birthday, a birthday that I’ve not so positively anticipated over the last few years. I have fallen short of society’s expectations of me to have a husband and pop out a few kids. At times, I’ve felt anxious, stressed, judged and sometimes even flawed because I haven’t met what American culture deems as successful for a mid-thirties woman. And by successful, I specifically mean the marriage and kids bit.

Despite a booming career, deep social circles and a worldly background, much of what people seem to fixate on is why, “at my age” with “all I’ve got going on for me,” I am unmarried and without children. It’s hard for me to believe that people may be so narrow-minded that they think there’s only one path to happiness. But you know what they say, you can’t fix stupid.

Cake for Carin's Birthday

Marriage and children are two life events I don’t take lightly and view as huge choices. Key word being choices, not checklist items, as some choose to approach them. Admittedly, I used to beat myself up for not being locked down, when in fact, I wasn’t sure what I wanted. I still don’t fully. If I want either of these things at all, I want them with the right person, not because everyone else has them. It took me a while to realize that all of this is okay, and I’m not less of a person for taking more time for myself to decide than others.

For so long, I’ve fought and defended myself against the questions and speculation as to what is wrong with me.  For there must be something wrong with me. The hardest part over the years has been working to overcome the stigma of what it means to turn thirty-five because let’s be honest, I am not undateable. In fact, I’m pretty fucking awesome.

Cake for Carin's Birthday

At twenty-seven, I was at a girlfriend’s house. I’m not quite sure how the topic of conversation came up, or what I said to elicit this response from her boyfriend, “Look, here’s the deal for guys. If you’re not married by 35, you’re considered washed up and undateable. Guys don’t want to date some old chick.” The idea that someone wouldn’t date me because of my age, because I hadn’t settled for a situation that wasn’t for me, baffled me. Besides, I was a young twenty-seven. The odds of still being single at thirty-five wasn’t even a thang for me. Plenty of time to find a person, get married, live happily ever after. I’d kill it in the wifey department in no time.  No sweat, right?

Throughout my earlier 30’s, I put a lot of pressure on myself to “land a man” and “move my life forward” with the intent to “settle down,” whatever those things mean. I found myself in a series of relationships: right person wrong time, great guy but not for me and a few of the “what was I thinkings.”  In between relationships, I also went on a fair amount of dates.

Cake for Carin's Birthday

In conversations with my dates over the years, I’ve listened to men share their views that it is more attractive to date someone who has either been married or has kids versus a baggage free, diamond in the rough, has-her-shit-together, thirty-five-year-old. Why? Because it goes to show that someone wanted her in the first place. And this wasn’t just a one person view.  Guys?  Tell me I’m wrong here please, and excuse me if I think this is the craziest notion I’ve ever heard. One of these dates landed me in a relationship which I had higher hopes for, but ultimately, it didn’t work out. After the relationship crumbled, my already planned trip to Europe couldn’t have come at a better time.

Cake for Carin's Birthday

In October 2015, I took a two-week vacation to France and Spain, one of the best trips of my life. One night in Spain, my sister and I were at a pub and met a few interesting guys who chatted us up. The screaming of girls who’d had too many shots was becoming a lot to handle, and I was asked to step outside with one of them to continue our conversion. The guy proceeds to ask my age. “Thirty-three,” I replied. “Do you plan on having kids?” he asked. “Honestly, I’m not sure. Some days I think I might. Other days I for sure don’t. I go back and forth. We’ll see where life takes me I guess.

Next, the most shocking statement came out of his mouth. “I can’t believe you’re thirty-three and are still even considering kids. I mean, anything after twenty-six is cruel.” Anything after twenty-six is cruel. Cruel? Seriously? Are you kidding me?  WTF. Speechless, I walked back inside, my head spinning and my nostrils flaring. I thought I might lose my shit. Ignorant asshole. Since when did someone’s childbearing age define their worth as a partner?

By the time I neared thirty-four, I had moved past being concerned about #relationshipgoals and had been doing me for quite some time, and well at that. I quit my job, decided to travel the world for a year as part of the Remote Year program and embrace where I’m at in my life today. Over the last year, I’ve been the most comfortable in my skin as I ever have.

Cake for Carin's Birthday

A few weeks ago, I was in Ha Long Bay for a writing assignment. I took in a day cruise as part of my trip.  The boat’s guide was interested in my friend’s and my background and our reason for traveling to the bay.  He asked if each of us was married, and both of us replied no.  The guide then proceeds to ask our ages, and we shared we were both mid-ish thirties.  “Over thirty!” he exclaimed laughing with surprise and shock.  “You’re too old to get married,” to which my friend replied, “Too old?  No, no, no. We are too young to get married.

Her response, a great one at that, gave me a moment of clarity: had I taken the traditional route, the one that society has been on my heels about and pressuring me to take, I wouldn’t be able to travel the world as I am today. What I’m doing, this travel the world bit is crazy, I know. It’s also a way for me to do more self-discovery and perhaps gain clarity on answers I don’t have. Today’s lifestyle might not last forever, but this is my now.

Cake for Carin's Birthday

Happiness isn’t dependent on your age, but it is reliant on you to receive it.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: your life is however you want it to look.  Don’t let anyone else dictate it, and don’t take people’s shit.  Don’t let anyone tell you you’re too old for anything, especially traveling the world.

And 35?  Well, I guess I feel old enough to know better, young enough to do it anyway.  Like eating birthday cake for breakfast, party hat and all.

Cake for Carin's Birthday

A dedication to anyone who has ever been told that “at their age” they are “too old.”

Photo Credit: Cari Hill
@nowbecomingthen0
Check out her work via link on my ‘About’ page!

20 comments on “At 35, I Still Eat Cake For Breakfast
  1. Charity says:

    Love this Carin!!!!

    • pairswellwith@gmail.com says:

      Thanks friend!!! I’ve been feeling this for a while now and just needed to let it rip. I can’t believe that I’m the only one with these thoughts. Miss you!!!!

  2. LeAnn says:

    Carin you are just awesome…. age matters not. Many excellent points here, and yes traveling the world as you are doing does not happen for most people period, much less those married with kids!!! Live it!!!

    • pairswellwith@gmail.com says:

      I’d like to think that with early year, I learn something new. This year, I continued to pay attention to the things that make me happy vs. thing that weigh me down and prohibit me from reaching my fullest potential. Thank you for always being a supporter.

  3. Diane Staba says:

    This is so inspirational! You are an amazing woman that shows when you believe in yourself, happiness follows.

  4. Kara says:

    This is beautifully written AND I feel you! Happy Birthday to one of the most kickass ladies out there! Your heart and spirit are more important than any societal checklist item.

    • pairswellwith@gmail.com says:

      You are the best! Thank you – and thank you for being part of this journey with me. Think of all the great things we’ll learn over the course of one tiny year. I’ve taken the standpoint that checklist items are just a way to distract yourself from bigger goals.

  5. Kristina Parker says:

    Carin you are inspiring. So happy you are on this journey. Keep being curious and have an amazing birthday!

  6. Wonderfully put. Keep rocking it, Carin!

  7. AP says:

    Love it! Happy birthday to an adventure taker, thrill seeker and all-in life liver!! Miss you!

  8. Shared it with my networks – this piece speaks right out of my soul!! Thank you for this!!!

    • pairswellwith@gmail.com says:

      Thank you for doing so. I’m hoping to get this message out in front of many more women to provide comfort in knowing that this is a common feeling and it’s okay to be single and fabulous!

  9. Dawn Marie says:

    A wonderfully written testimony! I only have one important question: What flavor of cake for this year’s beautiful birthday? Hugs & Blessings to you for trusting the process of living out your life as it unfolds for you…which pairs beautifully with courage & joy.

    • pairswellwith@gmail.com says:

      Thank you!!! I had hummingbird cake, which I had never heard of until Australia. It’s like a spice cake! It was delicious.

  10. sarah says:

    Well said my friend. Great post and great pics!

  11. Lissa says:

    Awesome thoughts and beautiful pictures!!!

  12. Amy R says:

    Carin,
    I loved reading your most recent article and felt/feel the exact same way! (Just 10 yrs older) But you are right and we are awesome and should not let any society make us feel otherwise. I am very thankful for my years with Katun that gave me the opportunity to travel for work and pleasure.

    Keep up the positive attitude and great work as well as enjoying your life to the fullest! You are so Inspirational!!!

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