Since I turned 35, I've been wanting to write a post about it. I mean at 35 I should have plenty to say, right? Women's magazines and the internet are flooded with posts and articles by women who claim that at an age of 35 or 40, they transformed into this strong, self confident woman, who doesn't care any more about what other people think of her, and who is at all times authentic and true to herself and her priorities.

No fewer, are the lists of things a woman should have learned and accomplished by that age, and their content varies from "you should have established a Tupperware collection", to "you should have run a marathon", to "you should know how to invest your money".

Not discouraged by the fact that I have done none of the above, I thought I would write about how far I've come in life. My title was ambitious: " 35 reasons why being 35 is better than being 20".

Tiny problem: at about point number 3 I ran out of ideas. I also read again the first two points and realized that they were irrelevant, or circumstantial.

My first point was that I can now go to bed early and how great I think it is. Obviously, this has more to do with me becoming a mother and therefore being able to play the "we don't get much sleep these days card", rather than me finally being honest about the fact that sleep is very important to me and more often than not, I'd like to go to bed early, no matter how much fun I'm having.

In this regard, the only period in my life, during which I resembled the woman described in these articles, was when I was a child. I was the nine year-old, who without thinking it over, would leave her own birthday party, put on her pyjamas and go to bed, after urging her schoolmates to keep on dancing.

Becoming a teenager made me much more insecure. I started being interested in how others see me, and I worried about finding a pack and fitting in. These feelings recede partially during the years that followed, but to claim that I'm not insecure any more, would be quite far from the truth.

So, has the train of self-actualization and personal transformation forever left this station? Am I never to become this better version of myself? No, wait train! Don't go!

I'm still afraid to ride a bicycle, I have only recently started being honest about not liking opera to my friends who do, and I haven't travelled to an exotic, far away country alone.

Am I then to perceive myself as a failure? Naah.

Just because I'm not where the magazines think I should be, doesn't mean I'm nowhere. I'm under the impression that the pictures of the woman to be, are painted in black and white.

Can all women, regardless of their story and the challenges they've had to face in life be that woman by 35? Is our personal development a "one fits all" size?

And how would that woman be in real life? The woman who always prioritizes herself and who doesn't care what others think of her, the woman who doesn't compromise. Would I want to be like her? It seems to me that she would probably be so lonely, that I wouldn't want to be her, even if she had run 3 Marathons, one right after the other.

I'm not however advocating for being the "good girl". I'm advocating for being the happy girl.

Those who have the power to affect how women think, should be more nuanced when telling them how they should be, or what they should accomplish. And if they absolutely need to put so much emphasis on success, they should at least pair it with love, because that's where it comes from.

We should of course love ourselves, take care of our needs and establish healthy boundaries. But we should also keep in mind, that anything meaningful in life is hard work, selflessness and compromise. And it sometimes is caring about what others think, it's doing things we don't particularly enjoy and it's putting ourselves in the second place at times. It's about investing, not our money smartly, but our time and energy into what's important to us.

As women, we're being told so often, what we should be able to do, what we should wear, how we should think, what we should aim for and how to behave in order to be deemed worthy (by who?). And there's so much bad advice out there. I guess I'm old enough to take it with a pinch of salt now. Except for the Tupperware one. I'm starting with my collection tomorrow!

Published by Eleni Riga-Johansen