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As my birthday approaches (April 8th…gifts accepted) I’m getting slightly freaked out about the number. It’s the one before the big one. They say age is just a number but so is your weight, and as both go up, the less thrilled I become. Is this the year I delete my age from my Facebook account? Or do I just change it to tell a lie? When Facebook first came out, I told lots of lies, albeit, they were so hilarious and so fake that no one would ever believe them; I was in a “relationship” with my female best friend and my year of birth was 1921. Neither comical anymore (when a guy comes up on tinder who has written that he is 85+ years in jest, I immediately swipe left in disgust), I’m thinking of making a serious adjustment to moving my birth into the 90s.
I could pass for 24. In truth, I can pass for 18, but I’d like to maintain my post-collegiate status. The other night outside of a bar, as I waited for my uber, a young man on a pedicab tried to butter me up before soliciting me to take a ride (those things are a hard sell). He looked at me and asked, “how old are you? You look 18!” If I was, in fact, 18, this would be a pretty dead end conversation. When I told him to add 10 years to that, he was shocked. He must have realized that I actually didn’t have all the time in the world to waste in a pedicab and pedaled away. The most extreme case of age-dysmorphia occurred while I was traveling home to NJ and an airport attendee told me as I boarded an early flight (sans makeup) that I looked 12-years-old…12 as in hasn’t-finished-puberty-12! My ID constantly elicits a double take from bouncers and waiters. Whenever I complain about this baby face of mine, I get the same response – “you’ll be happy when you’re older.” I hope so. I hope I’ll be sipping mojitos at my infinity pool which I built with all the money I saved on Botox and plastic surgery.
Here is what I like about 24, career-wise. I didn’t immediately enter the entertainment industry post-college. For 3 years I worked at a pharmaceutical advertising agency. I have now been working in television for almost 4 years so if I had begun right after graduating college, that would mean I started at age 21 and I am now 24. The math adds up…I think (I’m a writer not an accountant). As my friends and peers with “real jobs” – aka anyone not working in entrainment and being paid a livable salary – start making real money and do typical adult things such as have babies and buy homes, I’m still in the realm of babies = bad and the closest thing I can buy to a home is this dinosaur decal from the Target Home Collection.
If I could go back and visit my 16-year-old self, I don’t think she would picture almost-29 looking like this. “Aren’t I supposed to be an adult? I still need my mommy?” Surprise, young-Dyana, yes you do. I just moved into my own apartment (that’s pretty adult-like, no?) and my mother so graciously flew out from the East Coast to “help” me get unpacked. And by “help” I mean, she unpacked me…I’m pretty useless in that department. If she hadn’t come I’d still be tripping over boxes and face-planting into improperly aligned furniture. I’ve called her more times than I’d like to admit, asking the location of several of my own possessions. And going even further back, 4-year-old Dyana would look at 28-year-old Dyana and say “I’m still naked? Do I ever get dressed?” “Don’t worry, 4-year-old-Dyana, I don’t still cry before putting on clothing to leave the house.” But, as many old VHS tapes hold proof of, when I’m home, the pants still remain off.
Do I feel 29? No. Do I look 29? Definitely not. So then, what is 29? Who cares! As I write this I’m realizing it doesn’t matter. Maybe some 29-year-olds are ready to settle down and get married, but I’m not. I’d guess many 29-year-olds understand more about insurance, taxes, and other boring adult gunk, but I’m still learning and luckily, there’s my good friend google. Some 29-year-olds probably know how to iron their clothing and don’t accidentally wear their underwear inside out most days of the week, but not all of them. Not me. And I’m okay with that. Maybe it’s time, as an adult, to stop using age as a barometer of success, to stop comparing myself to others, and to just enjoy life. That sounds pretty mature to me.