Lately there’s this thing that’s been happening, a lot. And when I say a lot I truly mean it happens at least 3 times a day. People ask my age for absolutely no reason. No biggie right? I mean, who cares. Age is nothing but a number, they say.
However, when you live in Hollywood…EVERYONE cares. The guy at the bar, the casting director, your friend’s aunt, your customers, the cashier at Target, my cats would probably ask my age if they could…actually probably not, cats only care about themselves.
But the point is – once people find out how old you are age in Los Angeles is actually a stamp of expiration that lies solely printed on the middle of your forehead. Since I moved here 4.5 years ago from a small town in Michigan at the age of 23 (do the math) I realized that a certain age here was not the same as a certain age (ex. 23 in LA vs 23 in MI) in other states or even countries. I’ve traveled to big cities in different continents and states and I will tell you there is NO place like the utopia, unicorn, clusterfuck that is Los Angeles.
Now there’s a few things I want to talk about when it comes age and some of it gives me massive anxiety on a day to day basis because people are always asking my damn age and usually with a certain age comes societal expectations.
In fact, when someone new approaches me in LA the do-I-want-to-know-you interview typically goes like this:
- What do you do here?
- Why did you move here?
- How old are you?
- Where are you from?
- Where do you live now?
- Are you vegan?
- How about gluten free?
- What is your name?
People can ask how old you are before your name. And because age is such a ~thing here, 75% of those people lie.
And they lie because society is not kind to aging, especially for women. UGH, it is so unkind to women that last night I saw a guy tell a beautiful 34-year-old woman she looked way older than her age but in the most condescending way and when he went to the bathroom I apologized to her for his rudeness. We ridicule women for getting plastic surgery to look younger yet we bash them for looking ‘old.’ Society can’t make up their minds. But we can all agree we all want to look younger. Look at the commercials, ads, or celebrity endorsements thrown in our faces. But even I am guilty of it… “gosh, Jennifer Lopez looks so good…for her age.” Why can’t she just be beautiful?
And forget it if you’re in “the industry.”. If you’re an actress, singer, or model you better not be telling anyone your age and even better you should lie about it. It is a big part of the reason why I am leaving the industry and lost interest in pursing it. I will not deny who I am and if I am made to lie about my age at 28 (which I turn in exactly 7 days), who will I be at 40? useless? It actually started to get to me and most of all make me stressed…as if in two more years my life would be over because even though I look better than I ever did when I was younger, it is still the big dirty thirty. Modeling agencies started saying I was too old and my last manager told me I need to lie about my age. Imagine if I live until 80 and I feel like I am an senior citizen at 28. Even worse, I don’t even qualify for their discount. FML. Wait, am I allowed to say FML at 28..or am I too old?
This is me on St. Patrick’s day last month, at 27.11 years old, drinking a cocktail in Santa Monica, CA at a bar. This exact night after drinking 3 of those drinks I was on the dance floor breaking it down to Nelly’s “Hot in Herre” with my two best gay friends when a group of early 20-somethings I did not know dragged me into the middle of their polygon shaped enclosure and gave me no choice but to drop it to the floor. If you don’t know what this means, it’s basically a dance when you attempt to be sexy while your ass sweeps the floor and then everyone claps and cheers for your white-girl effort.
Afterwards, a guy helped me up and asked me my age (see what I mean about people asking your age before your name.) “I’m 27.” The look on his face looked like I just told him a tidal wave was coming from the Santa Monica pier and we were going to have to die together. He -could not- believe my age. “You look SO young, there’s no way.” He asked to see my ID as if I didn’t already feel like a fossil. More shock, “I just thought you were so much younger.” As usual, my response was “everyone says this.”
Now believe me, I feel blessed to have good genes. Thank you to my mother who is Puerto Rican and Dominican because the melanin in our faces is real. But it is WEIRD when someone says you look young, while implying that you are or should look old. And for someone who feels very young and admittedly, acts very young, it is strange. The way it is implied when people use this certain tone is that basically I should retire from having fun. My kind of fun.
What is 28 supposed to look like anyway…physically, mentally, or accomplishment-wise?
So many of us mid 20-somethings to mid 30-somethings feel so much pressure and disappointment if we aren’t on the same path as the majority of our peers. So many of us are dreaming in the future instead of living in the moment because of what society says we should be doing. We don’t want to be left behind and seem like something is wrong with us because we haven’t found ~the one~ yet. Whether we admit to it or not, there are expectations that by a certain age you should have kids, be married, moved out, have a budding career, traveled the world. And everyone, if they choose (don’t get me started on people who believe all women want to procreate, I do…but some SERIOUSLY don’t), reaches those points at different times. THAT’S OKAY.
A few months ago my mom ran into one of my high school peers mothers at a store. She asked about me. My mom told her I was single and childless living in LA. This woman’s daughter is my same age, has 3 kids, and has been married for years, which by the way, is absolutely amazing. But this woman told my mother that she felt sad for her because my uterus has been vacant (different words, obviously) so she wasn’t a grandma and if she ever were to be, she would be an old one. And she felt sad for me because I didn’t have a husband…or even a boyfriend…or even a friends with benefits (ok, she didn’t say this hehe) at my age. I had no idea why this lady felt so sad for my mother and I when we didn’t feel sad about our own lives. I realized that 28 means different paths for different people. THAT’S OKAY.
After spending a good chunk of my 20s in a relationship and then it ending abruptly 8 months ago, I had this looming doom that I was single and almost 28. After years of family members asking when we would get married (ugh, annoying) I now had to be the ONLY cousin at holidays explaining why I was single. It seemed like such a negative thing to happen to me. but really I stayed so long with someone I was incompatible with because I was afraid to be alone. I wasn’t even as upset that we had broken up as I knew it was for the best but more so that I had to start over at 28! I cried about all the wasted years and sobbed about how I had lost my identity during them. The first thought I had was that I was alone at 28 while my friends back home were engaged, married, or going on their third child. There is something to be said about breaking up with a guy you loved so much after years and your first thought is not even about him but about OTHER people and their lives. I was so sold on the fantasy of my future with this person and came out of it not even knowing who the hell I was. I felt so confused and empty…who was I on my own? I had to find out. I vowed to be single no less than a year to dedicate myself to this journey.
A couple months after my break up I became extremely content with being alone and eventually then my age. Almost too much to the point that I started hanging out with guys much younger than me so it had little chance to develop into anything serious and just like everyone else, they also just couldn’t believe I was not their age. Yes, literally, some even joked that I was a cougar, some even checked my ID. But instead of responding with a gloomy “Yeah, I know” when they asked my age and feeling slightly ancient, I started to feel sexy. I didn’t just feel sexy, I truly believed that I was. I am now more confident, independent, smarter, in the best shape ever, have an amazing family and friends, and know what I want. I’m traveling to all my dreams locations and crossing off stuff on my bucket list. I am working towards goals I should have started years ago, focusing on me. This time in my life is a blessing that I will not take for granted or ever forget.
And please, if you’re in your 20s or 30s can you STOP saying you’re old with the most melancholy, unenthusiastic, Eeyore tone. Even 40s isn’t half of your life expectancy. I have to give people the biggest eye roll when they say 24, 28, 31, or 37 is old. You don’t feel fucking old, some of you are running marathons and slaying at life. You only say this because society has made you feel like you are old. Poor you, you have lived to 34 lucky years, have your health, and want to feel sad about it. It’s weird, stop it.
Last thing, even though my parents think they wasted $40-50k on me for my bachelors degree, hope is not all lost, mom and dad. I don’t remember algebra, history, or any English book I was assigned, but I do remember one valuable, and quite expensive lesson from college that has stuck with me as one of my favorite quotes to this day that I heard in a psychology lecture hall my freshman year:
“Growing old is not a right, it is a privilege because not everyone gets to.”
Old me is just grateful to be turning 28. 🙂