CW: mentions suicide
I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea of “hitting your prime.” Hannah Gadsby has a GREAT deconstruction of the idea of women in their “prime” in the special NANETTE. It’s definitely worth watching and I won’t try to summarize it here because I won’t do it justice.
Frankly, it always felt odd to me that so many of my friends who are either women or afab enbys have this major complex about turning 30. I’ll admit it; I was excited about turning 30 and I made a big deal of it.
But not because I thought I was going to expire after but because I never thought I’d make it to thirty. From the age 14 to 25, I told myself if I made it to 30, I’d kill myself. So to make it to 30, to want to keep living despite being incredibly unhappy felt like some sort of magic I don’t know how to describe.
For me, turning 30 wasn’t scary. It was a miracle.
Through some strange series of events, I’ve also started watching tiktok way more than I should and I see the fear of turning 30 on there too. Mostly from women and femmes.
And I get that we live in a society that tells women as they age, they lose value. I get that many of us are still operating under this very outdated expectation that by 30, we should have our sh*t together and be married with kids.
But like, how much of this are we doing to ourselves?
Before I get into it, I want to clarify something immediately: I understand that the answer is never to blame women for internalized misogyny. And that’s not what I’m here to do. You can think you’re the sh*t and still have society beat you to the ground. We need to fix the systems of oppression that make women believe that they lose value as they age and not tell women to just “lean in.”
That’s not what this post is about. Instead, I want to unpack a funny thought I had recently:
I had a moment where I thought: am I in my prime????
Which on one hand is laughable. I’m single, in the middle of nowhere. I recently realized I have no home base meaning after I leave here in December 2021, I have nowhere to go. My unhealthy habits are getting worse and I haven’t seen a doctor since 2019 (excluding the 3 COVID test I’ve taken).
But on the other hand, it’s not laughable at all. I recently got some exciting news I can’t share yet but when I got the call, I thought I was being scammed. Since January 2021, I’ve worked with nine different theatre companies and actually had to turn down work recently because I really want to keep April kind of open.
I never, ever thought I’d get to a place where I could turn down work and not panic about how I’ll eat.
I’m teaching at a university and networking with other colleges. Like, looking only at my career, I’m doing……..well.
But, I’m 31, very soon to be 32. Which based on everything I’ve been told is “past my prime.” Apparently, it’s too late for me?
I won’t lie. I still get f*cked up when I see a 25-year-old winning a major award I used to deeply want and there’s a twinge in me that feels like I’ll never make a career out of this because I started too late. I didn’t even start my career until I was 25. How on earth am I supposed to reach major milestones in my career in less than 5 years?????
There are 4 different playwrights who are little bit a head of me who I kind of use as a mental marker to help me figure out what my next steps should be. I remember one time I was in the car with one of them and when she told me how she was, I almost crashed my car. She was in her late 30s. I had no idea! I thought we were the same age. So I checked in with the other 3. All of them were mid-30s or older. And all of them have incredible careers.
But each of them said it really didn’t happen for them until they were 35 or older so why the hell are we stressing ourselves out about 30?
Another playwright who I deeply admire told me “Everything you write before you’re 40 is sh*t. You will write your masterpieces in your prime.”
The understanding there was that my prime would be when I was fifty.
If I’ve got twenty more years before my “prime” why do I feel so behind? Like I’ve failed somehow.
Our obsession with youth is directly tied to misogyny. I know that. But day to day? I am constantly fighting these thoughts that I’m behind, that it’s too late, that I missed my chance. And it’s hard not to sink into despair about it.
But ultimately, lately, I’m reminding myself daily that I am not out of time until I’m no longer alive. And I will keep creating until I can’t anymore.
So here’s where I’m at now when it comes to being in my “prime.” Am I in my prime? No.
Because the basic concept of a “prime” is misogynistic.
What I am is learning how to continue to push the boundaries of theatre and the boundaries of my own capabilities. And I hope to keep doing that long after the world has decided that I no longer have “value” based on some bullsh*t concept of age.
I hope you keep creating too long after the world tries to trick you into stopping.