On turning 29 for the first time

For women of a certain upbringing, 29 years old signifies the last year of one’s youth. I think it is fascinating (and more than a little funny) that this arbitrary prime number has been embraced as a number to claim, over and over through the years.

As a woman committed to a career in a field where maturity and asexuality will likely serve me better than youth and virility, I have to admit I am a little horrified by the idea that someone hearing my age will assume that I am seeking to conceal my chronological age.* As an anthropologist interested in the intersection between multiple frames of age (chronological, social, physiological, sociolinguistic, and otherwise) it is marvelous to have achieved (again) a chronological age with real social meaning**. As an outgrowth of the child I once was, I am thoroughly disgusted that I have not yet achieved a 2.5 kids and financial certainty. And as a grad student, the age trajectories of people who have not given almost a decade of their lives to training seem bizarrely foreign***.

What a ridiculous birthday this is, so saturated in banality and denial. And how delighted I am to celebrate it!

* I adore my (sadly few) gray hairs and years of experience in the world and unashamedly hope they will work in my favor.
** And, if I am being entirely honest, somewhat concerned that I will soon be too old to establish non-maternal rapport with adolescent informants …
*** There is a real sense in which graduate school seems to be a limbo of age in which real life only continues by sheer force of will and otherwise you are suspended between some freakish extended adolescence while preparing for obsolete decrepitude.

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4 thoughts on “On turning 29 for the first time

  1. Since when was 29 still “youth?” Since about 1995, maybe, if you are American, anyway? I, for one, am an old lady. I’m married, I have a mortgage, I get a buzz of two glasses of sauvignon blanc, and I go to bed at 9:30. My only regret about my 30th next year is that I will no longer qualify to be on anyone’s “30 under 30” list!

  2. Great blog, Sam! Hey, for a different take on being “too” old to have rapport with adolescent informants, look at Penny Eckert’s ‘Jocks and Burnouts’… nice perspective on it there.

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