This week I pitched a piece to a main stream media outlet. Actually the truth is they invited me to make a pitch which I did. They then asked me to clarify my age, which in case you didn’t know is a massive 46, which is turns out is too old. Apparently their readership is mainly people in their 20’s and 30’s and so they want their writers to be of the same age. I am not going to name and shame them simply because it would cut off all dialogue with them and well I live in hope that maybe one day they will see the error of their ways. So why write this post then I hear you asking? Because I have thoughts to share on this whole subject.
Aging is not fun or pretty. I will happily admit that I am not a fan. I do not like the grey hairs or the added wrinkles on my face. I am not keen on the wattle that is starting to show beneath my chin or the slight bags under my eyes. They are constant reminders that I am not what I was, that time is passing and I look in the mirror and see my Mother. Now the thing about that is that I think my Mother is actually a very attractive woman, even now in her 70’s and struggling with some health problems I think she has a grace and beauty about her and I am not the only one who thinks that. My daughter told me the other day that if she ended up looking like me and Granny at our current ages she would be very happy and yet I would still love to look like I did 10 years ago. I think some of my problems with the physical aspects of aging is that I feel like I wasted some of the best years of my life, when my body was more youthful I was stuck in a marriage having fairly dull vanilla sex and being a stay at home with 2 small children. I have regrets about some of that (another post for another day) but now my life is different and I exceptionally happy about that, but I wish I had enjoyed my body earlier in my life.
Of course the truth is that I wasn’t ready in my 20’s or even the very early parts of my 30’s to do that. I was self conscious about so many things. I certainly didn’t have the confidence or vocabulary to articulate what I wanted or desired. Now much of that is down to both lack of knowledge and lack of opportunity to discover those things and without a doubt the arrival of the internet in my life totally transformed those things for me. It allowed me access to information and knowledge that I had never encountered before and to people who helped me discover some of the missing pieces in my knowledge that opened up my sexuality to me. Those people, some of them friends I made, but many of them writers sharing their experiences and knowledge online were a true gift to me and do you know what? I never once cared how old they were and I find it hard to believe that many people do care about that. If a piece is well written and informative or entertaining surely that outweighs the relevance of the age of the person writing it?
What happened to me this week hurt like hell at the time, and I will admit to actually having a bit of a cry about it. After all you can adapt your pitch, practice your writing, improve your skills but you can’t change your age and if that is a barrier to me earning a living as a writer then maybe I should just give up now because it is not something I can change or for that matter stop, in fact in a few months time it is going to get worse because I will be 47. It left me feeling like I had nothing to offer. That I should just give up all the hard work I have done to get to where I am now and go and get a job but I am stubborn and determined and as quickly as I got to that thought my next thought was that I should start a magazine style site where everyone who contributes to it is over 40 but unlike like other sites which do that where the content is age focused I’d keep the content broad in its focus. It also made me even more determined to write this blog. Here in this space I can write and share my photography and no one can reject me because I am too old. Sure you can choose not to read me because of that but that is the case anywhere, but at least here I get to have my voice even if other outlets deem me too old to be of interest.
And all that made me realise that there are some good things about aging. You see 10 years ago I wouldn’t have even pitched my piece in the first place let alone been able to deal with any rejection that came my way. Yes I was upset yesterday, but in the scheme of things only momentarily, and all it has done is made me more determined to make this project of mine work for me, and along the way if I can to give space and opportunity to others to have a voice too whether they be marginalized by age or sexuality or race.
I hope that I am never the person who rejects someones thoughts or opinions or experiences because of their age, whether they be young or old, and I truly hate the idea that media outlets in particular seem to perpetuate the idea that people only want to know about or hear about people like themselves, that they are only interested in people of their own age. I have encountered it so many times both from TV and other media outlets that has sent me calls for pitches or casting for shows that specifically say things like… 25 – 40 year olds only. Whenever I have challenged them about it and said people over 40 have sex too you know, the most common response is always something along the lines of, our viewer/readership is that age group and to that I say, so what? If I am anything to go by and I don’t think I am alone in this, your 20’s and 30’s are when you are really figuring things out. Now in my 40’s I find that I understand myself and the world around me in a much richer fuller way. I am strong and confident. I know I am capable of much. I have achieved much. I have broken apart my world and remade it better despite many people telling me I couldn’t. I am smart and thoughtful and a great listener. I am a good writer and really fucking talented photographer. I am a good adventurous lover. I know what I like and how my body works and also how to use it. I give great blow jobs. I am a good wife and yes even though I say I am a crappy sub I am not really because I know what kind of sub I am and that makes me a complex submissive not a crappy one. I have knowledge and experience and it is valuable and worth sharing. I am 46 and I have come into my power and if your publication can’t handle that then you know what, more fool you, your loss.