How Old Are You?

I woke up to a dream the other morning. In the dream I was working at Nourish (my job at the juice bar), and we were getting totally slammed. Like lunch rush slammed. But I left them because I said I had to take a break, it was an emergency; I had a job interview.

I went around the bar to where my interviewer was waiting for me right there at a table in Nourish. Except we weren’t eating Nourish fare, we were eating Thai food.

I love Thai food, especially pad thai. Strangely my interviewer was eating pad thai, and I stared at it wishing I had ordered that while I had in front of me a plate full of vegetables, cut into huge pieces. Our plates were huge too. Gigantic plates that would in reality have taken up half a table, but because of disproportionate dream sizing, of course they fit normally on the table.

My interviewer was none other than my old real estate brokerage’s employing broker. There was someone else sitting at the table with us – a female presence, but she never spoke so I don’t know who she was.

Quite unprofessionally, throughout the interview we were shoveling food in our mouths as fast as we could, and miraculously managing to talk between mouthfuls. I don’t know or remember all that was said during the interview, but at the end, my interviewer told me that I couldn’t have the job because I am pregnant. He said that I had too much on my plate already.

I was angry because I felt that those were personal decisions that I had a prerogative to make on my own, and shouldn’t affect my ability to qualify for or accept a job position.

To make matters worse, my interviewer acted as though I didn’t even know how to take care of a baby. He brandished a newspaper in my face and said, “Do you even know what these words mean?” He started reading off names of cloth diaper companies. At “Rumparooz” I stopped him and shouted indignantly, “I used to be the Queen of cloth diapers.”

He sighed and said, “You just need to rent out a little place…” I stared at him in disbelief and cut him off, “And why would I do that when I can live in the home we have a second mortgage on?!” I was so offended.

He and the woman left the restaurant and I turned back to the table, where I proceeded to very angrily eat a huge chunk of practically raw purple cabbage with my hands.

Then a car alarm woke me up.

It wasn’t until later, as I recounted the dream, that my husband pointed out the symbolism in the words “too much on your plate” and the huge plates of food that were on the table. I hadn’t thought that I have too much on my plate, but clearly my subconscious has other ideas.

I also see now how there is so much depth of meaning in the food itself. For the past three years I have struggled with digestive issues and gone through tremendous transformation in my diet. My diet has been at times so restrictive that it was difficult to find things to eat. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve cried in restaurants.

Even now I am still frustrated daily by not being able to eat “like a normal person.” Even though pad Thai is actually something I can eat, I see that by my looking longingly at a plate of food I could not have, I was acting out in the dreamscape what I feel in reality when I look around me at so much food that I am “not allowed” to eat. I was left only with a big plate of vegetables, which was clearly unsatisfying to me.

And even the fact that at the end I was left alone eating a big chunk of purple cabbage makes me wonder if the baby is telling me that I am deficient in vitamin C or vitamin K, or some other nutrient like manganese or B6 that is predominant in purple cabbage. It is very possible. I actually believe that that is most likely the case, otherwise I do not think I would have dreamed about purple cabbage. It’s not a vegetable I buy or cook with particularly often.

A screenshot from instagram where Stacy Mojica @brilliant_birdie. Gorgeous food photography of vegan tacos with red cabbage on a rainbow placemat.
This is actually the only recipe I can even remember I’ve ever made with red cabbage (although the recipe actually calls for green).

It also bears mentioning that in dreams, darker shades of purple are said to symbolize powerlessness, which would make too much sense in this dream. I was being told by an interviewer that I could not get a job, and that he believed I wasn’t in a position to get any job. I couldn’t force him to give me a job. I couldn’t change my situation. As the Colorado Springs Pregnancy Center likes to say, “unpregnant” isn’t a word. If that isn’t enough to make someone feel powerless, I don’t know what is. 

Everything I dreamed, although out of proportion with reality in size and tenor (I would never leave Nourish in a slam, plates would never be that huge), was very in proportion to what I’ve been dealing with in my real, everyday life.

I do work at Nourish, and we do have to deal with being slammed, often at the worst of times when we are understaffed. I do love Thai food and I am getting lots of clues lately from the baby about what it wants me to eat, aka what I am willing to tolerate! I have been seeking a new job, and hoping for an opportunity that will land me in that career I’ve been waiting for all my life. I did used to be the Queen of cloth diapers. And people assuming things about me has indeed been making me very angry.

Every detail of this dream was pulled from the file of what’s been most significant in my life right now. So nothing about any of the content of the dream was a surprise. In fact it was pretty darn normal as far as dreams go. Nobody was flying around in refrigerators or fighting giant wasps or burning fire in the sea. That’s my life in a nutshell, or should I say, my life in a dreamshell.

A quote graphic with rainbow raindrops that says "That's my life in a dreamshell."

What was surprising to me was realizing that there is a whole layer of significance underneath the surface of this dream. It made me think deeply about something I hadn’t thought enough about before: how indignant and angry I really am when so many people treat me as though I am younger than I am or have less experience than I do. 

If I am going to be honest with myself, I have to admit that I feel disrespected in my everyday life. At work and yoga recently when people have been finding out I am pregnant and have two older kids, they ask me incredulously how old I am. It’s happened with at least four people so far.

It goes something like this…
Me: “(something about being pregnant and sick all the time)”
Them: “You’re pregnant?! How old are you?”
Me: “This is my third baby, but it’s been 7 years since I’ve been pregnant. I’m almost 30.”
Them: “Oh.”

or this…
Me: “(something about missing my girls who are at camp in New York with my parents)”
Them: “You have kids?! How old are they?”
Me: “Oh they are 6 and 7.”
Them: “How old are you?!”
Me: “I’m almost 30.”
Them: “Oh.”

Large quotes and "How old are you?" is superimposed on a starry sky at twilight. Some people and trees are silhouettes in the background.

I’m at the point where I need to come up with some sarcastic, snarky remark to answer them with because I get asked it so frequently it’s starting to feel like a joke. A big, ugly joke the universe is playing on me and laughing it’s ass of at behind the scenes.

What I have trouble feeling ok about is why people think it’s ok to ask me how old I am. I have never before in my life felt like there was a good reason for me to ask someone their age. Old or young. It just never felt appropriate. I guess because I am an old millennial I am old school about this. I was taught that you never ask a woman her age. And for that matter, you don’t ask a man either. You just don’t ask. Unless it is 100% relevant.

My immediate reaction to this question has always been “what the fuck?” I obviously don’t say that out loud, but it’s what I’m thinking. Should I ask them “How old are you?” How would they feel if I did?

Why do I feel the way I do, anyway? Do I have a right to be offended? Is it really that big of a deal? Most people would probably feel complimented: Wow! They must think I look so young! It’s strange to me that I don’t feel that way. But I understand why I don’t. I don’t feel that way because that’s not what it means to me.

When someone asks me “How old are you?” it means they think I’m younger than I am. It means they don’t think I’m old enough to have children. It means they think I shouldn’t have children. It means they are surprised that I’m as old as I am. It means that they assumed a lot about me before they asked. It means they assumed I had less life experience, and I don’t think it’s that much of a stretch to say that when you’re younger and have less life experience, you get treated differently.

Because I get asked this question, I don’t think it is an imagined phenomenon that people really do automatically treat me like I’m so much younger than I am. Even if they don’t ask The Question. I’ve noticed it in other ways too – ways that are more subtle. It’s very real.

And it’s why my whole life I’ve loved getting older, and always wished I looked older. Whenever I get a gray hair, I rejoice! For probably the first dozen gray hairs I found, I was so excited that I ran to my husband to show him! He of course assumed I was upset about them and told me to pluck them out. I was horrified! My stamp of honor? Never!

My gray hairs were finally living proof that I deserved a modicum of respect from this world. I would even go so far as to carefully brush my hair in the front so that I could see them well and hope very much that people would notice them.

I don’t know why I’ve always felt the need to prove something to all these people. I don’t owe anyone anything and I certainly don’t have to prove anything to anyone. I wonder what would happen if I stopped caring what all these people I hardly even know think of and treat me? Do I even have it in me to let that go?

On the next dark moon I plan to intentionally let this go. It has come to light, and it is nothing more than a petty distraction I don’t have time for. It is no longer serving me.

What’s holding you back right now in your life? Let’s let it go together.

 

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3 thoughts on “How Old Are You?

  1. I love your writing, and I wish I had I time to read and comment on all your posts! It’s amazing to me that you’re able to write so much and do so much every day, while pregnant and taking care of two girls. I hope you don’t think I’m speaking out of turn, but I wasn’t surprised at all by the “too much on your plate” symbolism showing up in your dream. And I think subconsciously, you know you need to cut yourself some slack.

    On another note, I look much younger than I am as well and completely sympathize with you on that matter. My voice and appearance (coupled with shyness and social anxiety) don’t match my 25 years, and I do feel it hurts my credibility at times.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jennifer for sharing that and thank you for the compliment ❤

      Not at all – you’re right – and my dream was right 😂 If I get the full-time salaried position I’m waiting to hear about (🤞🏼) I’m going to quit my other two jobs 😅 for sure.

      It’s easy to expect so much of ourselves. I am learning that I need to focus more on what I have accomplished rather than what I still need to do. 🧘‍♀️

      It’s good at least to know that others feel the same about their age and appearance and respect. It’s complicated all of the time 🙄 I really am getting ready to just let it all go.

      Liked by 1 person

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