An unclose photo of a woman looking over her shoulder and smiling

I rolled to the right into a fetal position, pushed myself up and swung my legs around to meet the floor on the side of my bed. I stood with about as much grace as a newborn fawn, feeling every single muscle on the way up.

I looked in the mirror at the blob in the reflection that was blurry due to me not having my contacts in and said, “I’m tired, everything hurts and I feel every bit of my age. Maybe I am too old for this?”

I’m months away from 29—basically 30—and still making a career of performing a juggling act with my life passions of writing, dancing and giving back to individuals affected by pancreatic cancer. Consistency and structure aren’t in my vernacular. Every other day it seems I’m hit with a, “When will you get a real job?” by another almost-30-something.

I shuffled to the bathroom and recalled a conversation with a friend from about five years ago. She was around the age I am now and utterly panicked by it. She’d fallen down the comparison rabbit hole—looking at where she thought she’d be versus where someone else her age was and overlooking the beauty of where she actually was and what was to come. I remember telling her some combination of “30 is the new 20,” and she was just getting started.

I massaged some cleanser on my face and made a mental note to add that to my list of affirmations, considering I too was in the same comparison-induced panic as my dear friend. Yet, as I splashed water on my skin to rinse, I had a better thought. A question, rather.

Who decided that age should be the measure of accomplishment? Why do we allow ourselves to succumb to that premise?

Who decided that age should be the measure of accomplishment?

One of my favorite, “Isn’t it time to get a real job and settle down?” moments was when I decided to begin the pursuit of a childhood dance dream at the age of 25. I did question if I was too old. I knew there’d be dancers in the room who were years younger than me and even dancers my age with more experience because they began the pursuit years earlier. Ultimately, I decided that my desire to give this goal a shot outweighed my age insecurities. At 26 years old, I was living the dream in New York City.

This opportunity introduced me to women of varying ages and stages of life. It introduced me to the beauty of being limitless and taught me not to allow my age to be a binding agent. I performed next to an 18-year-old in her first year out of high school, a 20-something single woman, a 20-something married woman, a near-40-year-old single woman with no kids and a near-40-year-old married woman with multiple kids. They were all extraordinary in their own right.

I put my contacts in and checked myself out in the mirror with clear vision. I don’t subscribe to the idea that my age should determine what my life looks like. Neither should you. The idea that one must achieve certain milestones by an age that meets someone else’s standards is a conduit for comparison, inadequacy and self-doubt. Success is subjective. It looks different on everyone and that’s beautiful.

I don’t subscribe to the idea that my age should determine what my life looks like. Neither should you.

The person who graduates college at 88 is just as remarkable as the person who graduates at 22. The single, creative entrepreneur friend can thrive just as much as the friend with the successful 9 to 5, business career and beautiful family.

Age is not a measurement of your success in life. It doesn’t determine when you get to stop a dream or start one. It doesn’t tell you how to look, what to wear or what to do. It’s just a number. You’re good.

Image via Cheyenne Ellis, Darling Issue No. 19

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3 comments

  1. I love this! My career has been very non-linear and I fall prey to the comparison game based on my age a lot. This was a great reminder to stay grounded.

  2. “You’re good.” It’s really that simple, isn’t it?. Love. So true and an important reminder, sending to friends!

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