• Lucia Joyce

Does Age Really Matter?

I ask myself this question all the time, and so far I've discovered two things:

1. The answer can only be a personal one, and...

2. Your mental perspective plays a huge role in the age you feel and project.

Of course your age 'matters' in certain situations. It's all anyone can talk about when you're young. Mostly because so many interesting things are restricted before you turn a certain age. But behind surface level legalities (most of which seem arbitrary or at least flexible, like the legal drinking age, for example, which ranges from 10-25 around the world, is completely illegal in 16 countries, and completely unregulated in others), is more of an inner compass, a feeling of being "ready or not". That readiness range is different from person to person, and not just influenced by one's parents or cultural community or societal law. It's just a personal intuition. You feel like you're ready, or you don't.

When you're dealing with children, or people over the age of 60, there are certain physical differences, but those decades between child and senior citizen are kind of wishy-washy. Some 18 year olds seem a lot younger, and some act like they're already 30. If you just met me, you could analyze my every facial line and talk to me all day, but you probably wouldn't guess my true age on the first try. And that goes for most of the people I know.

I remember thinking it was a 'big deal' when I was younger, to still be dancing above the age of 30. But the rise of self care, accessible physical therapy, union-mandated rules that protect the health of performers, and more nuanced training/body awareness have made 30+ a great age to be a dancer. You're smarter and more efficient because you know and listen to your body's needs and warning signs. You're more experienced and have less fear. You know how to warm up and cool down/recover, fuel up and properly hydrate. You can hone your stamina by subtle degrees with diet and exercise and breath control, and you have mental tools to bust out in high pressure audition/performance environments. You're also not afraid to fail, or speak up if you're being treated poorly. I used to be torn up about taking month-long 'breaks' from hardcore dance training. Now I know I'll be fine, because I'm taking care of myself and I know how to prepare, and all my additional training as an actor and musician and industry navigator gives me an advantage--both in booking the job and getting gracefully rejected. In not 'groveling for the job' and arriving relaxed, prepared, and unapologetically myself, I'm giving myself an advantage.

Age is kind of an illusion for most of your adult life. Your relationship with time itself changes as you commit to more projects and improvements that require years of energy, planning, pivots, and restructures. Your romances and friendships take on a vast new age range, as people younger than you become helpful teachers in a fast-moving world you weren't necessarily educated for, and people much older than you share their own challenges and growth. You start to jive with people's essences before their age, or upbringing, or job-type, or physical qualities. It's freeing, and fun, and it expands you in delicate ways. You stop making so many assumptions about people from the way they look and just speak directly to their humanness. And you learn, through the eyes of so many people who are different from you, how to process your own traumas and lessons and fears.

Yes, age freaks me out sometimes. I can't believe my cousin Janine's first born kid just turned 14 (I remember her first birthday vividly). I've become terrible at guessing people's ages. But I wouldn't go backward even if given the chance. Being older feels like coming into alignment with my true self. Keeping all the wonder and unbridled joy of my childlike self but slowly adding the wisdom of my experience in the adult world. And the beauty thing? Obviously I'm still pretty young, but I have never felt more comfortable in my own skin than now, and I think my outer beauty reflects that. :)

So, if you're worked up about your age, I give you permission to relax, and take it in, and let yourself believe in your own health and abilities. Don't worry about slowing down or hurrying up...just be here, now.

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