“When are you going to grow up” is something I have said to me now and again, usually when I’m unable to respond as I’m the grips of tear-induced laughter. But my response is always the same, why on earth would I want to change if what I’m doing is making me happy and I’m not affecting anyone else? Also, how would you change that, how can I alter what I find funny or interesting – even if I wanted to? I’m yet to find this supposed guide on how to act at each age.
I’ve always found age a peculiar notion. I remember dreading turning 30 as I thought the older you get the less fun you’re allowed to have and the more predictable life becomes as each year passes. Almost as if there was some truth to the 1976 film Logan’s Run – the dystopian society that tried to create a utopian society by killing-off anyone over the age of 30.
This of course, as I’ve now discovered is not true. But society does its best to see that you subscribe to the ‘correct’ behaviour according to your age; how you dress, what you find funny, the music you like and where you spend your free time – and if you stray away from the norm for your age, expect some judgement.
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Stranger Things actress Millie Bobby Brown recently received an Instagram backlash when she posted a photo of herself wearing a midi dress and heels. According to some she wasn’t wearing what is expected of a 14-year-old and people wanted to let her know. One wrote “Act your age for once” while someone else added: “Don’t be in such a hurry to grow up – enjoy being a kid cause it doesn’t last long”. And of course there we often see the opposite with celebrities being criticised for apparently acting ‘too young’, Madonna is certainly no stranger to this.
At the 2016 Met Gala she received criticism for wearing a corset and duct tape over her legs. The pop icon retaliated on Instagram saying “The fact that people actually believe a woman is not allowed to express her sexuality and be adventurous past a certain age is proof that we still live in an age-ist and sexist society”.
Sometimes I’m in a shop browsing the rails, trying to see if I can carry off the looks on the mannequins (I never can, I tried on a jumpsuit once and looked like I was off to carry out a spot of DIY) but I do wonder if there will come a day when I’ll be met with confused looks from other shoppers…wondering why I’m there and why I haven’t graduated to another shop more fitting for my age.
We are all unique and celebrated for being different and yet when it comes to age for some reason we are expected to conform on certain things such as the clothes we like, the taste in music we have or even where we spend our free time.
Last year a survey revealed that the oldest acceptable age a person can be to go clubbing is 37! In 2016 a couple in their 70’s from Poland made the headlines when they went to the famous nightclub Fabric in London until 5am. So clearly the desire to step onto a dance floor of escapism doesn’t suddenly vanish when we hit 37. I am still confused about why people care so much about what other’s wear or do, especially if it has absolutely no impact on their lives whatsoever. I guess only a psychologist can answer that.
One of my favourite quotes from Oprah Winfrey is when she said to find true happiness and success your one goal should be “to fulfil the highest, most truthful expression of yourself as a human being”. It’s not always easy stepping out of what society considers ‘the norm’ but it’s definitely worth it. There’s only one of you so why would you want to mask it in some way or dress or act how others say you should.
So in 30 years time I’m sure you’ll still find me browsing the mannequins in Topshop seeing which looks suit me (and those that don’t) and I fully intend to still be trudging around in the mud at Glastonbury each year up until my final years on planet earth. If people who worry so much about whether others are sticking to their ‘age appropriate behaviour’, spent that time ensuring they are being their true-selves then there would surely be many happier people in the world.
I spent a lot of my 20’s feeling quite uncomfortable at times, always feeling a little bit like a jigsaw piece that had fallen out of its box in a charity shop, trying to find the rest of my puzzle. But what I realise now that I’m in my 30’s is that I’m just myself – not everyone I meet will like me and that’s ok. I wear what I love, I spend my time in places I love and I’m so much happier for it. Plus I have found the more you are you the more you’ll attract people and things that you love and are a good fit with you.
So go forth and find the truest expression of yourself in the world because like good old Oscar Wilde said: “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken”.