If you guys have been reading my blog for awhile, you know I’m very open about my life, my history, my opinions, my experiences, and of course, my age — just go ahead and scan the headlines.
I’ve had 34 years of life experience, and I’m proud of that. I’m proud of what this 34-year-old brain and body can accomplish.
But when I’m asked the dreaded question: “How old are you?”, a few thoughts ping-pong through my brain in an exhaustive sequence. Why do you ask? Why do you need to know? Would knowing my age solve the puzzle in your mind, as you struggle to assess me, and put me in a box? HOW OLD DO I LOOK?
Sometimes, I’m tempted to throw out a smaller number, and the rush of sheepishness I feel is not always strong enough to stop the lie from slipping out of my lips. Why do I want to say 29, or 31, or 33? Why do I attempt to exaggerate my youthfulness? To overlook my years of life and experience? Why can’t I just be 34 and own it? (And, do I have some weird obsession with odd numbers?)
Or, I respond, almost as if I’m apologizing, “I’m 34.” [Long pause.]
In my head, the pause is filled by all the judgments I think you’re making in that moment. Like, I’m 34… and yeah, I’m still single — I’m 34… and I travel alone — and really, I’m 34… but what’s it to you!?
I really hate being asked this question, and its unsaid inferences. What age should I be, based on your perceptions? What number would satisfy you? I watch closely for their reaction. “No way!” “Really?” Or just a nod of acceptance. I guess it all makes sense now.
Just recently, I was having happy hour with a gal pal and we were discussing this same topic. She mentioned a conversation she had with a mutual acquaintance. When she divulged her age, the acquaintance gasped, and said, “Whoa! Do you get Botox?” Apparently, my gal pal HAS to have aesthetic interference in order to look the way she does. Seriously?
Age — our self- and society-imposed judgments on age — is a construct.
I’m comfortable in my skin, and most days, I feel damn good about how I look. I can run a faster mile than I could in high school track (not a huge accomplishment, since I just joined track for the boys) but, I have also pulled off five half-marathons. I can rock a crop top and cutoff jeans like the best of any young millennial. And I’m SO much better at makeup. (Contouring, one of the best inventions of the decade!)
I know myself. I know what I want and what I don’t. I trust myself. I generally make good decisions; and even if I don’t, I accept that I made a decision in the moment and I have no regrets. I know that everything always works out — and nothing’s the end of the world. In my 30s, I’ve had my life turned upside down enough times that I know it will always turn itself rightside up, and I’ll be all the better for it.
If someone does ask me how old I am, I can’t stop them. But I can change my outlook. Here’s to the rest of the year, owning 34 and kicking ass at it… cuz 35 ain’t far off.