“I’m twenty-two years old, I look like I’m sixteen, and I am not an adult…”
Sometimes I feel like the numbers that make up my age are in reverse and am therefore not what my license says I am. Well, that metaphor used to work when I was twenty-one, but since I’m twenty-two, it doesn’t really hold the same weight. At this age, I am genuinely curious if the stigma of age, both in the present and in the future, will finally stop being a nuisance on my being. What’s sad is that I lack the ability to straddle both sides of this ageist gap; I have always looked much younger than I actually am. Yes, I know that it will pay off in the long run and that in the future it will work out in my benefit, but right now I’m getting tired of getting the side-eye from a bartender who thinks that what I just gave him was the world’s best fake ID. In a sense, it is the world’s best fake because it’s real. I feel that it’s because of this curse of perpetual youth that I get treated as a child. My worth feels dependent on my looks than it does on my experience, knowledge, or wisdom.
While I acknowledge that my parents will see this, that does not mean I will relent in the following section. I get treated differently when I’m at home. How I talk, what I do, with whom I speak is scrutinized and belittled because I have returned to a space where I have not grown. Where I have grown lies beyond the confines of my hometown and the new “grown-up” me can no longer strive at the homestead. I get that “home is where the heart is,” but who is to decide what my home is other than me? Home should be a state of being and not a state of physical presence. Who I’m comfortable with, how I act, and where I feel right should be home. While my home does have these qualities, it just feels stuck in this bubble where time stops and I’m still eighteen. You can see the pattern here, I’m always getting younger and not getting older.
However, that’s not to say that once I finally grow up or once I finally look my age (which I have estimated to be when I’m forty-two) that the bubble will pop. As far as I’m concerned, the bubble is impenetrable and whatever attempts to kill it only makes it stronger. There is no escape. I will forever feel like a child in an adult world, forever running towards the goal of adulthood with no chance of getting any closer. That being said, I still won’t let up. I still won’t let that stop me. I have a voice and I have a lot to say and I’m going to keep saying it:
“I am twenty-two years old, I look like I’m sixteen, and I’m an adult!”