I’ve never been that into birthdays, mostly because I think receiving gifts is one of the most awkward social rituals ever. Seriously, what am I supposed to do with my eyes while you serenade me with ‘Happy Birthday’ in the key of eek? Am I supposed to open this perfectly wrapped package in front of you? If I do, can I properly convey my excitement through body language and exaggerated facial expressions, or will you think I’m faking when I’m really not? Those are things I usually think about when my birthday rolls around, but this last birthday I felt…different.
In December I turned 25. 25 is inching closer and closer to 30. I’m not one of those people that equates youth with beauty, or who thinks the older I get the less valuable I am. No. But I am a bit concerned about how people view my quirky interests as I age.
As I’ve written here before, I’m a nerd who loves anime and wearing frilly cutesy stuff. Heck I even started a business around wearing and selling frilly cutesy stuff. I still love Saturday morning cartoons, and my idea of a pick-me-up after a hard day isn’t going to Happy Hour with the girls, it’s wrapping myself in a pink blanket, sketching cartoons, and watching reruns of Samurai Champloo. I also look like a teenager, and most people are stumped when it comes to guessing my age. I’m ageily ambiguous. Yup, I just made that up. If you start using that term, credit me! Just kidding. Kind of.
Looking and acting “like a teenager” seems to be more acceptable when you’re, you know, young. But the older I get the more perturbed people seem when they ask me my age and I, donned in a cutesy dress and curly q’s, answer: “25”. You can almost see the confusion, disappointment and judgement wash across their face- in that order. There was a time when my choice of attire were seen as “cute”. People would discuss my style and say “that’s just Jacque”. But as time goes on and my peers are starting stressful jobs, getting married and having babies people are looking at me wondering when I’ll ever “grow up”.
But you know what? I’m a self employed adult. I pay bills, I pay rent, Sallie Mae’s got a hold on me just like you. I’m not living in Lala land. I follow through with my adult responsibilities, so what does it matter if I still watch cartoons and play dress up? I’m not judging you for unwinding with wine and Scandal. Both are a way of escaping, no? Olivia Pope’s world isn’t any more real than Spike Spiegel’s. The way you feel when you slink into a little black dress and go out on the town is the same way I feel when I’m twirling around in a poofy skirt.
Maybe when I’m 30 people will stop shaming people with quirkier interests (which, if you can’t tell, irks me to no end), or maybe I’ll just care less. But for now? I’m going to keep doing me, with the occasional awkward “How old are you?” followed by an uncomfortable “…..oh” sprinkled in here and there.
But what do you think? Do you feel like the older you get the more shame you feel for liking what you like? Or do you just shake the haters off? If it’s the latter, please give me advice, ha!
Jacque Amadi is an e-commerce entrepreneur, slanging cuteness at Adorned By Chi.