LEVEL UP! LEVEL 50!
This is a 50 year old man. Not bad for half a century if I do say so myself. Even if I haven’t had a haircut since just before the lockdown started in March, my beard is more gray than not, my forehead has lines from my extreme expressiveness, and my eyes have some well-earned crow’s feet and a little more weight of living and experience behind them. Why do I make this statement today? Honestly, because it makes me very uncomfortable so I’m owning it. Facing the discomfort. It baffles me as I certainly don’t feel 50. I’ve always said that from about the age of 12 I felt about 25. Truth be told, it’s probably closer to 30 now. Judging by the roles I get and comments from people who learn my age, I apparently don’t look 50. The gray beard probably adds 10 years but at the same time, I’ve grown to like its character when I choose to have it.
To me, age is a meaningless number, and more times than not, probably a harmful one. A number that makes people form preconceptions about others. Perhaps you take someone less seriously when you find out how “young and inexperienced” they are, or suddenly see someone’s comment as an “out of touch dad” when you find out how old they are, and yet, if you didn’t know this number, you might not have thought these things at all. I worry about roles I might have been considered for if someone just went by my looks, demeanor, and acting ability, but then they hear that number and suddenly see me with new eyes that totally discount me as not right for that role because their brain tells them so after hearing those two simple digits. As I’ve gotten older I’ve become more and more self-conscious about it. I have friends from all ages, older and younger, but I start to wonder if some younger people will automatically feel a mental disconnect from me even though we might have been the best of friends had their brains not turned on this temporal prejudice.
I’ve dated older people and younger people. When I got married my wife was almost 10 years younger than me. My last girlfriend was almost 15 years younger than me. If we met now, would she have more pause as a 35 year old dating a 50 year old?
The thing is, I know that the vast majority of this is inside my head. Things I put on other people. Insecurities that lead to assumptions. Not completely without reason mind you. In the music and acting world age can be an issue that colors people’s perceptions of you, so it’s something worth thinking about when those are your careers, but I’m someone who likes to live openly and honestly and doesn’t want to be secretive or cagey about how old I am. I don’t judge anyone else by their age, and honestly, I rarely actually retain that knowledge. I usually can’t remember any of my friends’ ages because I don’t care, and yet as is human nature, we always assume that our ways of thinking don’t apply when we turn the tables around. People will judge me! Discount me! I’ll lose jobs!
I’ve had quite the amazing trip so far in my 18,250 revolutions on this spinning rock. I’ve worked very hard to be who I am today. Are there things about myself I don’t like or would like to change? Innumerable. Are there things about myself I absolutely love? Also innumerable. I’ve come so far and yet not nearly far enough. Becoming me is a never ending journey. All I can ever do is hope to go to bed a better person than when I woke up. It’s hard to ignore the lingering shadow that whispers about how more than likely there are more days behind me than in front of me, but really what does that matter? All we have is today, so presence is paramount.
So, yeah. I’m 50. And I’m pretty great. You should give me a chance. Try to see the world and those in it with open eyes and an open heart. Not just in regards to age, but in everything. Heed my words. I’m old and wise.