Tag Archives: kindness

The Bittersweetness of Looking Young

10 Jul

I am very fortunate to still look like I am in my early twenties. This has been something I have enjoyed immensely as I am almost certain any woman would. Normally, this is pretty fantastic especially when lately the number ’31’ gets stuck in my throat when people ask how old I am. However, recently, it has become an incredible pain in my ass.

I never minded getting carded when buying alcohol or even at rated R movies (which still happens by the way). It was something I had gotten used to: going to the store and showing my I.D. and having the cashier smiled and make a comment such as “Wow, I would have never guessed that.” I always thank them. It’s meant to be kind and as I mentioned, it never really bothered me. It’s never been an issue of someone not believing me; my I.D. has never been fake. It’s almost a reflex at this point to have that reaction so I go into auto pilot of a polite response and go on my way. It’s never affected me past taking a few extra seconds to get the bottle of wine or get into the bar.

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                         Avril gets it.

It wasn’t until I turned 30 that I started to want to be treated as such. I want to be treated as an adult when I’m at my job, whatever it may be at the time. I want to be treated like I have knowledge, am educated and experienced. It sounds odd to say because EVERYONE should be treated like that but when others think you are younger, they treat you like you’re stupid. As if you’re going to burn the building down if they leave you alone for five minutes. I am sure I am guilty of it. Aging people by saying things like “Oh, you don’t get it, you’re too young.” Occasionally, that may be true and said properly, it isn’t insulting because hey, a younger individual may not know because they haven’t experienced something age appropriate like renting a car. However, most of the time, it comes out as a real shit thing to say. It’s belittling and makes one feel inadequate. As a kid, it wasn’t so bad because you’re a kid and you had to accept the fact you were younger. When you are 31 and everyone treats you like you’re 21, it’s harder to accept and brush off because you’ve been 21. You’ve been through the pain and torture of your twenties. I want my experience and the life I’ve lived to matter. It sounds dramatic when put that way but it’s what I’ve been feeling in the past few years.

When my husband and I were at Disney World a few years ago, we had “Happy Anniversary” pins on. We weren’t married yet but we were celebrating our dating anniversary. A kind cast member congratulated us but then took a second glance and asked us how long we had been married. We fibbed and just said how long we had been dating which was about four years. He commented that we must have gotten married when I was 12. We laughed it off but it stung a little. I knew I was going to married this man and I worried “Is this going to be our life? Where everyone thinks Lincoln has robbed the cradle?” What about when we have kids? Are people going to think I am the babysitter?

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                        2011. I was 27.

We just moved to Vermont and applying for jobs, several places looked at me like my resume was a lie. They never said anything, but it was clear they were surprised by all my experience considering I appeared to be 22, MAYBE 23 years old. If I don’t wear makeup, it’s even worse. I am spoken to like I don’t understand simple tasks. My new job has a lot of moving parts but I picked them up fairly quickly and a lot of my fellow employees have been shocked like I shouldn’t be so on point yet or understand how Microsoft Office works because I’m far ‘too young’ to grasp the concept of working in a customer service setting. I have a coworker talks to me as though I am a kid. She didn’t understand how I could be married and asked once if I remembered what CDs were. Yes, lady, I remember when THE INTERNET BECAME AVAILABLE IN HOMES not to mention my Walkman so yeah, I remember CDs, you know, when they became a thing for the first time. If I hear her say, “Well, you kids these days…” one more time, I will slap her. Ok, maybe not but it’s getting a little ridiculous when she asks me if I know how to check a voicemail. And she can’t be more than 10-15 years old than me at the most.

At our grocery store with my parents a few weeks after we moved in, we got some wine. At Hannafords, they need a supervisor to come and check I.D.s which is totally understandable. This manager was taking a long time to arrive at our register and the cashier…was really weird. Just a weird dude, long story. My dad finally said “You know, we are her parents. She’s of age. Can we just buy it?” The supervisor finally arrived and made the same confused face when checking my I.D. everyone does. But also I was with three other people who clearly are over 21 so I’m not sure why the extreme precaution. It happens every time my husband and I go buy beer together. They still ask for my I.D. even if he’s the one buying it like he’s buying for me for my high school rager I plan on having when my parents are out of town. When I’m out with my family, they always ask for my I.D. and occasionally the server will ask for everyone else’s I think just so I don’t know they were specifically targeting me, assuming I was the youngest. Obviously I know they are asking for only me. I think I hang out with too many people who have beards. Beards equal age. My brother never gets carded and he’s three years younger. I should grow a beard.

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                  Pulling. It. Off.

It may seem like a foolish thing to complain about but much like my past blog about being tiny, everyone has complaints that may seem controversial. There are women who look older than they are and I am certain they have a similar reaction when people age them. I accepted being carded every since I turned 21 but being treated like I don’t know what I am doing because I look like a kid has started to upset me. And the faces I get when I say how old I am sometimes aren’t pleasant surprise. It’s shock. Shock that isn’t masked in any way much like when I told people how much I weighed when they kept asking. It’s an odd feeling now that I’m older. For the first time, I want to be an adult.

The first week I was 30 I wasn’t carded. I was shocked and kept joking that now that I was 30, my streak was over and I finally looked my age. It was a welcomed change. Then it started creeping back. I started going new places, shopping new stores. It still just blows my mind that people think I am 21, ten years younger than I actually. Again, it is AWESOME in many ways. It’s great to feel good about my face. I joke I moisturize and that’s what gives me my youthful looks. It’s just good genetics truthfully. But when it interferes with my integrity, it hurts, it stings, it sucks.

I never want to grow up but sometimes, it’s nice to be treated like I am one when I am doing adult type things. I’m grateful I look young enough to still play a lot of my dream roles. I know a lot of actors play young way into their 30’s (hello, the entire cast of Dawson’s Creek).

Rachel McAdams was 26 when she made 'Mean Girls'

Rachel McAdams was 26 when she made ‘Mean Girls’

It’s a good feature to have. But when I’m applying for jobs outside my chosen field, when I’m working in an office or a restaurant, being treated like I don’t know what I am doing when clearly I do makes working difficult. It shuts down my confidence. It has made me realize that I need to pay attention how I speak to people that are younger. I’m probably not smarter than them. I may have more life experience in some ways but I’m not any better than they are. I shouldn’t be condescending. I shouldn’t mock them when they haven’t ever watched “Saved by the Bell” or think Leo DiCaprio is old and gross with his dad bod (they didn’t know the good days!) I should be polite and explain the wonders of what I know and listen to the wonders that they know because I still have to Google what half those abbreviations in text messages mean though I am fully on board with the Zac Efron train (he’s the new Leo!).

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You’re killing me, bro.

Someday I will look my age. It’s inevitable. Or maybe not if I start using toner. I’m thankful, I’m #blessed, but I’m also fed up. This doesn’t mean I want wrinkles however so don’t go getting any ideas, Universe.

Just for funsies though…

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Mean Girls: How I Was Bullied

30 Dec

I’ve been meaning to write this entry for a long time. Truly ever since I discovered The Kind Campaign. If you don’t know about The Kind Campaign, please visit their site http://www.kindcampaign.com and follow them on the social media and learn about how these incredible women are helping to teach the young girls of this world that bullying each other is wrong and unnecessary. I wish this organization had been around when I was growing up.

*Please note that all names have been changed. Fifth grade was a single year of bullying and I am friends with all those wonderful people now. College…is another story.

I was tiny, into music that wasn’t popular yet, loved shirts too big for me, acting, and I was alone in my class. My middle school always shuffled us around into different classes every year and in fifth grade, I was separated from the majority of the friends I had made in third and fourth grade. They were all in another class, a cooler class, that Bethany was also in. I was alone and among kids who had been friends prior to fifth grade. I was an outcast of sorts. I was smart but not too smart and cool but not cool enough. I was an easy target because I was trusting and tried hard to make friends. These kids could smell my desperation. And that’s when they started what I still consider one of the worst school years of my life.

I still had my friends down the hall who I would see at lunch or recess or after school. I had friends in my theater group. I wasn’t entirely alone like some kids being bullied are. But still, it was the confusion and the hurt that broke me down when these few kids didn’t like me. It’s so hard when you’re that age to understand why this is happening to you and you can’t stop it. I had thoughts of suicide for the first time at that age. That’s horrible to think about but when you’re young and you’ve become aware of what suicide is without realizing the finalness of it, you view it as a way out. I used to visualize how I would do it and how those kids would feel so badly for picking on me and cry at my funeral. I never thought about my family and real friends and what ending my life would be like. My brain was so focused on escaping the everyday onslaught of cruelty I faced with every alarm clock, I didn’t think anything through.

I didn’t have any boobs when I was in fifth grade. I mean, I still don’t really. Several boys announced loudly in the cafeteria that I was a carpenter’s dream one day. When I asked what that meant, they shouted “Flat as a board!”

After this, I insisted that I get a training bra. I probably didn’t need one just yet but everyone else had them and I felt left out. I was invited to a birthday sleepover. I was usually invited to places and activities because they wanted to pick on me in a group setting. I wore my bra. I took off my bra. It was taken from my bag, soaked in water, and put in the freezer. The next morning when I couldn’t find it, some of the girls brought it out, frozen solid, in front of everyone, including some boys that had been invited over. I shoved it in my bag and tried to laugh with them as they mocked how small it was and asked why I even needed it. This was after they also tried to make me pee by putting my hand in warm water when i was awake. I fake slept through it so I wouldn’t have to face them.

I Googled ‘frozen bra’ and this is what I got. I couldn’t be more pleased.

I invited one of the girls of the group to go to the mall with me. My mom said to kill them with kindness and this girl, we will call her Lisa, was always kind to me in spite of her friends. We went and had a great time. She was ruthlessly picked on for the week following for hanging out with me because I was such a loser.

At one of these parties I was invited to, there were boys. Spin the Bottle was the best game in the world to many of us at that age and the boy I had a crush on was at this party. I had stupidly told the girls I liked him because still at this point, I thought we were kind of friends. They told him, in front of everyone, and purposely tried to get the bottle to land on him whenever it was my turn. It was humiliating.

But not as bad as when we had a teaching assistant and I mentioned I liked him. Not as a crush. I just liked him and he liked me in that teacher understands a student. They told him I had a crush on him. They gave me his name as a nickname. I turned red every time I was called on by him in class because they would whisper and taunt me. *To this day, a few of them still call me that name and it has become a form of affection, fortunately but this is origin of it.

I was teased, humiliated, mocked, embarrassed, and used. It was abusive. But at the time, it was ‘kids being kids’. We were young and they were dominate in that class. The next year, sixth grade, I was back with my close friends and I wasn’t bullied. I slowly became friends with the group that had hated me that one year. We are friends to this day. In eighth grade, I did the unthinkable. I bullied a girl with a group of my friends. We had a horrid nickname for her and did the same thing that was done to me. She would invite us over her house and we went because we liked making fun of her and her house and her clothes. I regret it all because she moved soon after this all happened and I was never able to become her friend and apologize.

However, it isn’t always kids. Unless you count college freshman as kids which I suppose you can. But I feel they should know better by that age.

Freshman year at college was going smashingly. I made a ton of friends, I had a cute boy who liked me, I was doing great in my classes and my roommates and I got along. It was fun to meet people from all over and to also find out several of my new friends had friends in college that my old friends went to. Alia was friends with Trish at school in Maine, who was one of my friend’s Jenny’s best friends. Trish and I finally met at Alia’s wedding. There was one connection in particular that led to my second dose of bullying. A connection that meant nothing to me but backfired as badly as something can.

A girl in my class, let’s call her Ann, was still with her high school boyfriend. That boyfriend went to school with one of my high school friends. One day, I was on the lovely AIM messenger we all miss dearly (not), and my friend messaged me.

He said he had a few questions for me regarding Ann and this guy she was hanging out with a lot. Now Ann and this guy, let’s call him Sam, had been hanging out a lot and it seemed they liked each other more than friends but that wasn’t something I knew for sure or cared to know because Sam had just dumped me a few weeks prior. I said that they hung out a lot and seemed to be good friends. Well, the boyfriend took this as Ann was cheating on him and they fought and ended their relationship. He told her I told him she was cheating. I did no such thing. At the time, I don’t think you could review your AIM messages, maybe you could. But that rumor spread like wildfire.

First, Sam took it upon himself to reveal a lot of personal information he had learned about me in the brief two weeks we ‘dated’. Most of it was not kind. Then Ann told everyone that I had ended her relationship. My suitemate, let’s name her Carol, chose the side of Ann and started to make my life a living hell. She would lock me out of the dorm. She would take my stuff. She and my roommate put salt in my bed which was the dumbest thing of all time because the prank is you put the salt on white sheets and the person can’t figure out why their bed is so grainy. My sheets were navy blue. I had also told them this prank. Way to go.

The friends I had made stopped speaking to me. They ignored me in class and made fun of me on AIM and shared their jokes as away messages. They spread rumors. Cruel rumors of me being a slut or ugly or anything I was insecure about that I had entrusted to them, the campus would hear about it. They would whisper about me at parties. They, again, would tell boys I had crushes on them, especially this older boy I really liked for a while. WHY IS THIS A THING? THIS IS SO MEAN! I felt alone, outcasted from the people I had to work with in class everyday. I was one of them and then, like a light switch, I wasn’t. They abandoned me fast and furious all because Ann and Sam were the dominant two of this group we had formed. And yes, they started dating pretty soon after the incident and dated for over four years so really, I didn’t make any different whatsoever and had no reason to be punished for the inevitable.

I cried every night in my dorm or in the library or other corners of campus. Usually the bathroom downstairs in the student center. I talked on AIM constantly to Bethany and Alia and any of my friends back home who were around. I was broken into pieces and my work was suffering. I wanted to leave school. i looked into transferring to another college nearby. I had a professor ask me what was wrong one day after class and I lied to her face and said I was just tired. I could have told her. I know she saw what was happening in class when no one would speak to me or include in group activities or sit by me.

But…I made new friends. A lot of new friends. Great friends. And I had kept a few of the group who had abandoned me. Matt for one. Matt never left me, has never left me. He’s my Peter Pan who clapped to bring me back to life. Him and Ricky and Drummey. Those three boys were my salvation and never once faltered in their friendship to me because they didn’t care who was dating who and who said what. They were able to be friends with me and the group and that helped saved me and made me stay.

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Eventually, I was able to exist near the group. The older members warmed back up to me after a short while because again, they realized it didn’t matter and wasn’t their business. Sam and I became good friends towards the end of college and remain so today. He even apologized for everything he said which was brave and admirable. It wasn’t necessary but he did it any way. He’s a good man. Ann and Carol never did came back to liking me and still haven’t. Well, Ann sort of has. When I’ve seen her, we have been friendly and I wish her the best in all things because I know it was a time and place and once you bully someone enough, it’s hard to go back and apologize and be friends. We probably won’t ever be friends, Ann and I, because that time has probably passed and that’s ok, but we successfully played them in a scene once and we both were pretty proud of that. Carol…will never like me again I think. We were close once. I went to her house several times and we got along immediately when we had met. But to this day, she speaks ill of me and that’s just how it goes. She went the Regina George path and never looked back. Those girls were not shy about their cruelness and were relentless even when I became friends with basically everyone in the drama department, including their good friends, they never came around.

As much as it seems silly, it still bothers me. I still want to reach out and be their friend because I am still that fifth grade girl trying to get everyone to like her and not understanding why they don’t, why they are so cruel. I’m tempted every day to send Ann a Facebook request or reach out to Carol because I did like them both. They are funny and sarcastic and loyal as fuck to the people in their lives. But I know it’s ok that I haven’t and I don’t need to. There are people in the world you have to accept don’t like you or you just don’t get along with. And that has to be ok. The bullying is what is not acceptable and needs to stop being the norm and replaced with communicating and getting to the root of the issue. Ann never really confronted me except for one day in the student center right after her and her boyfriend broke up. She sat down and asked what I had said and if it all was true. I told her the truth. She seemed to believe me and then the shit hit the fan. Had she just had patience and talked more to me, trusted me, maybe we would be friends today. If my differences were accepted instead of judged, maybe fifth grade would have been a great year. It’s easier to go the Mean Girls route It’s easier to gain power with gossip and push others down to feel better about yourself. People take the easy way and I so wish that wasn’t our first inclination.

Most recently, I was touched by bullying as an adult. I had a huge misunderstanding and tense relationship explode with my husband’s ex who I had tried to be friendly with. Her friends took it upon themselves to blast me on Twitter and say nasty things behind my back. Some of these girls I had never met. Some of them I had been friends with before I had met and started dating my husband. They turned they back on me and got involved with something that wasn’t even their business. It brought all the memories flooding back and sent me spiraling into a dark place for a few weeks. I felt trapped and nervous. Everywhere I looked I saw or heard something else they had said. I was a slut. I was crazy. I was a heartless bitch. And worse, when I tried to speak to them politely and maturely, I was treated even worse or just plain ignored and then Tweeted about. I couldn’t believe that women acted this way in their late twenties. I blamed myself because this seemed to keep happening to me. Was it my fault? Was I an easy target? Was I actually crazy? Am I a bitch?

When I discovered The Kind Campaign, it was by accident and a touch of that mean girlness I try to avoid. I had seen Aaron Paul’s wedding pictures on People magazine and his beautiful bride, Lauren. Being a Breaking Bad fan and having the typical rabid crush on Jesse, I was curious who this girl was. Upon looking at her, I judged her. I thought she would be dumb and a super model because damn, that girl is gorgeous. When I found basic information on her, I couldn’t believe I had judged her by her appearance. I was so very off about Lauren Paul, who is smart, witty, determined talented, and kind. I fell in love with the concept of The Kind Campaign and now follow both her and Molly Thompson, who founded the organization alongside her, on the Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. They are both inspiring women who love this world fiercely and have been through bullying themselves and have risen above it. They created this project for girls like themselves and me and girls who have had it much worse. I would love to help them out in an assembly that they do in New York or any where just to see first hand these girls apologizing to each other and learning about how to support one another (Lauren, can you hear me?). How do we not do this as kids? How do we not see we are all learning and growing and figuring out who we are? We should be stand together, not tear each other apart.

I got through my bullying and yes, still to this day, sometimes I judge people on the surface or by how they dress or what they like. When I catch myself doing this, I always apologize to the universe and take it back because no one deserves that. Please check out The Kind Campaign and give kind. Be a little nicer to your classmate, roommate, or neighbor. You never know when they could turn out to be just as lost and scared as you.