It happened in the middle of the night. That’s how these things go; they always sneak up on you when you’re not prepared. By the time I woke up the next morning, it was already too late. Whether I had wanted to or not, I had turned 23.
I’m only a few days into this new experience, so I can’t quite give my full review. I do have a few thoughts though, even from the early days. This entry will serve as my log.
I’m rarely forthcoming about my age. Why is this? Am I embarrassed? Perhaps, but I don't think it's by how old I am. Especially with the internet, and the friends I’ve made through it, there’s a sort of strange connection to age. For many, the internet is a great equalizer, based more on merit and insight than on seniority or other social constructs. I guess I’m less embarrassed for myself and my age than I am for what others think of it — think of me — for being young.
I’ve always had a difficulty with being asked my age. Often, it comes with the implication to question my qualification to complete whatever task I came for. Maybe I'm just being insecure. In freelance, this is important, as you don’t want something out of your control to cost you work, or reputation.
In Buddhism, there is a concept known as the ‘Five Precepts’. These are a series of moral codes to guide oneself. While I wouldn’t say I’m a card carrying member, I am fascinated by the teachings of the Buddha, and would like to learn more. As part of this, I have been trying to adhere to these as best I can.
One of the five, the fourth, is to ‘Abstain from false speech’: simply put, don’t lie. Unless you’re a pathological liar, this isn’t too difficult. Until you start to factor in all the small lies we make for our own sake, or just to make conversations easier.
I caught myself in a lie recently, while on a photography gig. The client I was shooting asked my age, and I told him I was 26. I even lied about the year I graduated high school, just to make it all cohesive. Why did I do this? It stuck with me for days, and I still feel guilty. I guess I was worried that if he knew I was 22 at the time of the gig, that he would think I wasn’t qualified to take a good photo of him. Or maybe I was just embarrassed, simple as that.
No longer. Nobody likes you when you’re 22. It’s an odd age. Being fresh out of college, it seems the public perception is that you’re still just coasting the wave of the academic system. You haven’t really been asked to strike out on your own, so you could still sink or swim.
I already feel a bit better about 23. By this point, I’ve been living and working on my own for a while now, and spent more than a year outside of school. There’s a certain confidence that comes with that. I think I’d be less inclined to hide my age now, even from prospective clients, as it comes with more gravitas than 22 does.
23 is one of the first years where you can be expected to have an impact on the world. Of course, many people younger than I have already had a great impact, and they’re ahead of the curve.
This is one of the only years where I’ve felt a change from age to age. I’m ready to start putting myself out there more. This is the year I finish my book, and really become a writer. I’ll be prepared for wherever the year takes me.