I'm sat in a coffee shop at a table next to two impossibly young women. They are luminescent with the kind of ethereal beauty that comes with some types of youth.
Their skin is radiant, their smiles are beaming. There is light coming from and towards them, an ever-flowing cycle of illumination. The kind that implies they only ever spend their time on light rooms, thinking bright thoughts. Speaking of lovely things
I don't have these memories, so much of those years for me were spent in dark rooms, thinking dark thoughts. Self-inflicted darkness.
There is no youthfulness that comes with this darkness. I remember feeling so old at 21. So wrung-out. Tired. Bereft of hope. I looked so old. I remember taking headshots I'd just had done to my agent and having her tell me I looked 40 and she couldn't use them. I found them again recently and still couldn't bear to look at them. Bloated face. Dead eyes. A face full of shadows.
That's the part that's hard to speak. Those are the words hard to form. How old you feel. How used-up. How lacking in light. How unlike the luminescent girls that you may as well be a different species.
I will never be young and lovely. I missed the boat there. I feel decades younger than I used to though. No longer finished. No longer empty. Jaded.
Waking up not knowing where you are isn't nice. Waking up with injuries you don't remember sustaining isn't ideal. Getting into trouble with police, losing jobs. Neither are great- but feeling constantly old, worn out. Done in. That's worse. Feeling like life is over and you don't deserve it to be any other way. Like you're just going to get through it and bide your time until it is finally over. Because you don't know any other way of doing it these days. Feeling and looking decades older than you are, because of this thing you are doing to yourself. Not knowing that you are the same as these other girls. That you are young, and lovely. That there is enough light for all of us. And all it takes is realising we deserve it too. It's not exclusive. Reserved only for the good. All it takes it stepping out of the darkness. Stepping out and staying out.
Realising that the light is easy to find. It's actually everywhere. All that needs to happen is for us to stop actively seeking out the shadow-spots.
All women are beautiful. The ones who don't feel it are the ones who need the torch shone on them first. Who need a few spotlights to guide their way to where the rest stand effortlessly.
Not everyone needs to be sober. Some can have a healthy relationship with alcohol. But if you look and feel old despite being young? That person is not you. And if you already know that, but you don't know how to step into the place where everything is illuminated?
Let someone show you.
There are plenty of us about