Saturday, February 25, 2012

Being 20 in a 21+ world

Living in New York is one of the best things to ever happen to me. Looking back on the last couple of years, I've had more eye-opening and life-changing experiences than I think I would have elsewhere. One of the experiences is simply being under 21 while living and working here. I'm looking forward to June 6th of this year, when that won't be the case anymore (well, I'll still be living here, but it's my birthday - get it?), but for now? It gives me plenty of stories, I suppose.

My first summer in NYC, I lived with about 7 other girls - and none of us knew the others when we moved in. We spent three months running around the city, going to casting calls, taking the Q train to Coney Island at night plenty of evenings, visiting Times Square and trying improv in the street on other evenings, basically just having the time of our lives. And we were also invited to different clubs - a couple of times we'd be ushered in with the group we were with, but one time we had to stand in line and show IDs before going in. I wouldn't ever spend money on a fake (especially because in every scenario I can think of, I'd end up in jail), so what did I do? One of the girls went a couple of people ahead of me, and when she was let in, she passed her ID to me behind a random shrub that was at the start of the line. I'm a nervous person in general, so when this was going on, and when I grabbed the ID while my arm was being poked by the little shrub branches, I was probably shaking with saliva foaming out my mouth, freaking out that I'd get caught. But it worked. Still, it also almost gave me a heart attack, and I finally realized that clubbing wasn't even that fun. It's a little ridiculous.

On a more professional level, it can also be annoying to have to tell the people you work with your age. It didn't bother me at first because I didn't think it could be perceived as a bad thing...but then it was clear that one or two people wouldn't take me as seriously anymore. When that happened, I wanted to fall on the floor kicking and screaming, since obviously, I'm basically five years old. No, actually, it's just something I have to constantly keep in mind now. I can't help how others perceive me, but I also can't let that fact limit me or hinder my ability to express myself. And that's a lesson that I'm sure I'll be reminding myself of for many years, not just concerning my age. See? I'm getting all boring sounding up in here - I could pass for at least 50.
Anyway, another story. I went to an event recently for a company I work with, and the security guy in the elevator stopped me before I walked onto the floor and asked for my ID. I kicked myself for deciding to wear a cute bow in my hair that day - probably took off at least three years for me. I pretty much just sighed and said, "I'm not over 21, but I'm also not here to drink. Plus, I'm only able to stay a few minutes anyway." (I didn't tell him that the reason I'd have to leave so soon was because I was going to a bar to celebrate my roommate's birthday - ha!). He still made it clear that he was going to point me out to the bartenders so they would know not to serve me. It's situations like that that really get under my skin and make me cringe. After staying a little bit, I headed back to the elevator, worrying about my age instead of focusing on enjoying the event... and I let it ruin my night.

I get so worked up about situations where my age turns into a burden, and usually turn to Chris (boyfriend) to vent. Poor Chris - after the event, this is an example of our conversations:
Him - "Do you want to get some Subway before we head over for Scott's thing?"
Me - "Oh, I don't know, do five-year-olds eat Subway?"

Him - "Ready to go to the bar?"
Me - "No. I'm not going to drink, but I'm probably going to still get ID'd and then they'll kick me out in front of everybody and I'll just want to die. And then I'll cry because I'm apparently five years old."
Him - "Babe..."
Me - "Okay, just let me say that a few more times so I can get it out of my system."

But he's right - I can't have a pity party every time something upsetting happens that I can't control. Sure, for the next three months it will be my underage status. Then what? Sometimes you have to just shrug things off and hope that the people around you will appreciate and like you for who you are, not how many years you've been alive or where you live or where you shop or anything silly like that. Laugh it off - I'll drink to that! ... you know, in June.

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