Here I am, into my thirties now, trying to get a drink at a restarant. I’m here with my husband, and we’re basically the same age. I order a Moscow mule from a waitress who, without taking a beat, asks to see my ID. This is much to my surprise, since all throughout my twenties I was rarely, if ever, carded.
Now, I can’t go anywhere where I would want to order an alcoholic beverage without bringing my ID.
I don’t feel like I look young. In fact, I’ve never felt like I have looked young. Throughout my life I have attracted older men. I was more physically developed, particularly in the chest area, before most of my friends in school. I have never, ever been told that I look younger than I am.
Getting carded more frequently has gotten so noticable that recently my mother-in-law said something in conversation about it — something to the affect of “yeah, Sam always gets carded.”
Before I heard mother-in-law mention it, I thought I was being paranoid. Nah, I’m not getting carded more now, it’s all in my head — I thought. Apparently not, since others are noticing now too. This is fascinating to me.
I’m not a heavy drinker. I very rarely drink to get drunk. I don’t prefer the taste of alcohol much. I like mixed drinks, and I enjoy hard cider, particularly with meals at restaurants. I’ll order one or two drinks, and that will be enough.
I’m no lush. Though it may be the case that Lush, the cosmetic and skin care line, may have something to do with this.
The main, and important, question is: Why?
Why am I being IDed more now than when I was younger? And also, why do I care?
For this first question, why I feel I’m being IDed more now than when I was younger, I have 5 theories I will share with you here:
1. Security has generally increased in my area.
Though it is possible that security has generally increased in my area, it seems unlikely. Also, if that were the case, other people would feel like they are being carded more, too.
Granted, my husband doesn’t drink, and we haven’t been going out with friends a whole lot recently, I don’t have a lot to compare. However, if this wasn’t a ‘just me’ issue, at least to some extent, I doubt other people would have taken notice of it, like my mother-in-law.
In other words, it seems more likely than not that I am getting carded more because of being me than a general increase in carding people since other people are noticing me being carded a whole lot. Though I can’t completely eliminate this as a possibility, I just don’t think increased security alone could provide a full explanation of what’s going on here.
2. I have done a great job of preserving my skin.
Well, this is certainly true. I am obsessed with skincare. I buy all the things. Most nights I do so many things in my skincare routine that my husband falls asleep waiting for me to get into bed.
Also, I have spent many years as a vampire. I am very, very pale, and I mostly stay out of the sun. When I go into the sun, I wear all the sunscreen. Luckily, this usually works to keep the sun away from me.
My husband is Irish. It’s worse for him because even if he puts on sunscreen, if he doesn’t constantly re-apply, he will burn. So, we generally don’t spend time in the sun.
This is not to say, though, that I don’t have wrinkles — I do. I have wrinkles mostly from frowning and grimacing from unpleasant experiences at work. I have wrinkles from squinting and trying to see things at a distance because my eyes have gotten worse with age.
I have wrinkles from dealing with all of the complexities and perplexities of human existence — that’s life.
I also have dark black circles under my eyes. I feel very strongly that these circles have gotten darker with age. But, I buy every product on God’s green earth to get rid of them, and cover them up. The dark circles under my eyes are one of my deepest insecurities.
Speaking of insecurities…
3. Despite my best efforts, I still have acne.
Even though I do so much to care for my skin, sometimes I feel like just throwing my hands up in the air and saying “fuck it! fuck it all! I’m done!” The acne just will not stop.
There are many reasons I still have acne. Sometimes it’s hormonal. I definitely get more acne around that time of the month. It’s also likely genetics. My mother doesn’t have great skin. Thanks, mom.
But, I certainly play a big role in this issue, too. I don’t drink enough water. I don’t drink enough liquid. I often just don’t get thirsty. If I’m not thirsty and I’m not thinking about drinking anything, I can go almost and entire day without consuming more than a glass of water.
Not drinking enough water is terrible for your skin.
This is skin basics 101. Perhaps if I write it in big letters it will help me remember? I doubt it, but it’s worth a try.
The point of all this acne talk is — I have been wearing less make up recently. I have made a big life-changing career transition, and for several months, I have been seriously burned out.
I love make up. For too long, though, I used make up as war paint. I used it to make myself a mask to hide behind every day so that people wouldn’t know exactly how much I was suffering. It was the mask I could hide behind to distance myself from others, and from the situation I endured.
Using make up as a mask has not made me hate make up, but now I’m re-establishing a much different relationship with it. I want to choose to use make up when I want to feel sexy and refined, or when I want to feel professional and confident. All of these emotions combine in different ways, but they are positive.
I want to be positive, and put on make up and feel even more positive.
Sometimes this means that I chose not to wear make up at all. Coming from this place of positivity, I’m starting to re-establish a relationship with myself when I choose to not wear makeup. And sometimes, that means I go out to dinner with my husband and I’m only wearing moisturizer with SPF, and a little something for under my eyes (yeah, I still haven’t let go of that insecurity).
As a result, my acne may be more visible than it has been for quite some time. Since acne tends to be associated with puberty, and teenagers, this might be contributing to why I’m getting carded more frequently.
As a bit of an aside, acne is more common in adults than you, or society, may think. According to Dr. Diana Howard’s article on the International Dermal Institute’s website, “[c]linical studies indicate that between 40 and 55 percent of the adult population age 20–40 are diagnosed with low grade, persistent acne and oily skin.” Source.
Additionally, she cites the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology, which indicates that of women older than 25 years old, 54% have “some” acne on their face. Source.
So, according to the data, there is really no reason to believe that because I have acne I might look younger than I am, since so many women over 25 have acne on their faces too — but, I digress.
4. My husband looks like he might be going through a mid-life crisis.
When I asked my husband why he thought I might be getting carded more, he gave me two equally ridiculous reasons.
The first was that I may look like the youngest cop to perform a sting operation, and the wait-staff at restaurants want to be sure I won’t shut down the restaurant.
To that reasoning I say — there is no evidence I’m a cop. And in fact, I’m not a cop. Sure, I guess I could be under cover, but this seems fairly unlikely.
The next reason was that my husband looks so old, that he looks like he might be going through a mid-life crisis, and is out to dinner with some “hot young thing.” I shit you not, I did not make this up.
The “hot young thing” argument is ridiculous for a variety of reasons. One is that my husband is a month younger than me. He has been told he has a baby face. I kind of agree. I just don’t think he can pass for “mid-life crisis age” yet, even if he thinks I can pass for “hot young thing” age, which I do not.
I can’t get my mind around being thought of as a “hot young thing.” What I can get my mind around is that I feel way too old for this shit.
5. I am just more relaxed as a person now.
This feels like it could be particularly relevant.
I spent a lot of my twenties in school. I graduated from college at 21, went to grad school until I was 23, and graduated law school at 26. Then I clerked for a judge for almost a year, and went to work as an attorney.
If that doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun to you, you’re right. I didn’t spend my twenties footloose and fancy free, that’s for sure. I worked my ass off.
In fact, I have spent most of my life on a hamster wheel, feeling like I wasn’t enough, chasing dreams that weren’t my own to “establish” myself. I chased after the dream of security, and I thought I would find it by climbing a ladder of academic degrees and awards for “outstanding performance.”
At some point, I lost sight of myself. I was blinded by fear and expectations. Once I realized this, all I wanted to do was tear it down and start again.
And so, that’s what I’m doing now. I’m starting from a place of knowing that I’m enough. I know that I can do anything I want to do. I know I will be successful.
In making these changes, people have commented that I look different now. Someone told me that my face has changed. I suppose it’s because I’m taking care of myself. I’m listening to myself. I’m climbing my own ladder, and no one can stop me.
Unfortunately, this is the attitude most often associated with youth. Being “carefree” is certainly more associated with youth than being in your thirties. In your thirties, you’re supposed to be on the hamster wheel, aren’t you?
Though I don’t think of myself as “carefree,” I am more relaxed. It’s possible that I’m more relaxed now than I have ever been. I don’t wear the crown of the hustle made of thorns, anymore. In fact, I don’t hustle at all, and I hope I never hustle again.
So, it’s possible that the changes in my life are showing up on my face and making me look younger. I smile more. I get angry less. It’s possible that as a result, I look a bit younger — maybe happier.
In conclusion, it seems like there isn’t one right answer as to why I’m getting carded more now. It’s possible I’m getting carded more now because I’m happier and calmer. Or because I wear less make up and I don’t care if people see my acne. It might even be true that I look like a young cop. Who really knows?
But then we return to the question: why does any of this matter to me?
One reason is because sometimes I feel old. I feel more wise now than I have in years. But, I feel physically and emotionally different than I did a decade ago when I turned 21.
Then I think again, and I’m reminded of what I was doing when I was 21 years old.
I hadn’t started dating my husband yet, though that would happen soon. I was studying philosophy, and religion. I was writing about what inspired me. I was living to pursue my dreams and my passions — the things that moved my soul.
Perhaps in some ways, I am returning to the person I was when I was in my early 20s.
And maybe that’s not a bad thing. Maybe that’s the point in my life when I was sure of myself the most. I was confident, and I didn’t hide behind fear or responsibility. Maybe I’m returning to the wisdom I had then, that I left behind in pursuit of security.
Perhaps the way I’m living now may be like drinking from the fountain of youth.
But now, I also have the perspective of time. I know what happens when I go down a rabbit hole of discontent for the wrong reasons. I know what the wrong reasons are now, too.
So, even though it’s annoying to get carded all the time when I want a single cocktail at dinner with my husband, I think it’s probably a sign that I’m heading in the right direction. In fact, I’m sure of it.
Thank you for reading!
Sam Kimberle is a Writer, Poet and Artist. Her primary creative mediums are words and clay. She received her B.A. from Dickinson College, M.A. from Temple University, and J.D. from the University of Baltimore School of Law. She is a dog mom to a corgi named Frank, and lives with Frank and her husband in Baltimore, Maryland. Instagram: Sam Kimberle, Facebook: Sam Kimberle, Writer Creative Entrepreneur