It feels as though it was only a few weeks ago that I was twenty-years-old starting my first professional opportunity with the Utah Shakespeare Festival as a stitcher in their Costume Department. I was eager to tell everyone my birthday was June 1st and that I would be twenty-one, and I couldn’t wait to celebrate this milestone event and my recent employment. Fast forward eleven years later in my current role as a Communications Assistant for the Utah Shakespeare Festival and Marketing and Retail Shop Assistant for the Southern Utah Museum of Art and I have a completely opposite reaction. It’s not that I’m ashamed or think that I’m old. In fact, I feel refreshed and invigorated to take on my next future: graduate school and my mission to advocate for arts and artisans throughout the world. I no longer need a validation that turning a certain age means certain things. In fact, entering my thirties had made me realize something even more important when it comes to age as I found with my recent birthday. I’m still working on completing goals from my 30 List, but this year I’m beginning to see even more meaning behind the goals I set two years ago.
Numerous times I’ve rolled my eyes at my younger counterparts who claim, “Age ain’t nothin’ but a number!” We may not be that much apart in age, but as I approached my late twenties I began to realize the restrictions of my degree and career choice. I began to feel my energy dwindle as I worked on balancing multiple jobs with school. I was grateful for every opportunity, but as I became older, I realized I wanted more than what I originally signed up for. As I racked up various job opportunities and classes trying to figure out what to do to branch outside of my costume career, I constantly wondered, “Will this amount to anything? Does this accumulation of experience mean anything?” Job hunting at the beginning of this year and receiving countless rejections didn’t help answer any of these questions, until graduate school for a MFA in Arts Administration and training for something that combined all of my talents and experiences appeared. Suddenly, my energy was renewed and #25 on my 30 List had me smiling everyday until I was able to return to my hometown and start my assistantship with the Southern Utah Museum of Art and the Utah Shakespeare Festival for graduate school before the fall semester begins.
Working on various social media, marketing and retail projects for my assistantship hasn’t come without a few missteps here and there, but it has come with sense of eagerness to learn and assuredness in my steps (#27). It’s surprising to me that social media marketing has become my passion, but my love of writing and constant inspiration for ideas says otherwise. Maybe becoming a published author (#8) will take more time, but what isn’t taking time is the realization that I can do what I’ve always wanted as my writing gains engagements whether it’s through a Facebook post from one of the organizations I assist or a current blog I’ve shared (#22). My younger colleagues might be right about age not mattering, but it does make a difference as I begin to see that I don’t worry as much about what others think and I see criticism as room for improvement, not something to dwell on. My twenties I felt so less sure of myself and I thought I had to prove something, but now I’m beginning to see that the need to prove people isn’t necessary. All that matters is what I think of myself, and that I need to be much kinder to myself than I have been in the past. During my twenties I constantly felt as though I didn’t measure up to my peers as I constantly tried new work experiences and opportunities that seemingly didn’t accumulate to anything. Now I’m beginning to see the strands of my work backstage, my internships with sustainable fashion, my world travels and my blogging starting to all become braided together (#3).
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about age, it does matter, but it doesn’t restrict you or define you. Getting older makes a difference as your goals and priorities change (just ask anyone who has a family or someone on the brink of retirement), but what matters is what you chose to do with your years. So, as I plan on making the most out of the next two years of graduate school and my career after that, I’ll also remember to take time out for what I love (#28), possibly plan a trip with friends on the Pacific Coast Highway (#5) and finish reading all the books I’ve bought over the years (#9). After all, school is just the beginning of my learning and my thirties are opening up doors to a new and different life. It’s ironic to think that so many years ago my career was starting in costumes at the Utah Shakespeare Festival and now in my current role I’m opening up another career path that has endless possibilities. Until I discover exactly what those opportunities are, I’ll be enjoying myself (#19) and living life like I’m at the beach (#26).