Half-Truths and Manipulation of Myself and Others – By Lydian Shipp
Guanajuato Mexico North America

Half-Truths and Manipulation of Myself and Others – By Lydian Shipp

So… I’ve taken up clubbing.

And yes, I’m going to say that I’ve “taken it up” because it’s not something I plan on doing for the rest of my life. Someday, ideally sooner than later of course (but I don’t have control over that), I’d like to settle down and start a family. And if that hasn’t happened by the time I’m in my 30s, I’d like to have at least found something I’m truly passionate about that I can invest myself into fully where I’m interacting with people that I like. I don’t want to go bar-hopping in my 30s (I think I’ll get bored with it before then anyways).

What would 14-Year-Old Me in Egypt think of 18-Year-Old Me Living in Mexico? I don’t know, but I can say that having walked along dirt streets in Middle Eastern villages like this when I was 14 has definitely helped me know my limits now at age 18.

But, I do want to go to the bars and the dance clubs right now at this time in my life. I didn’t ever really see myself doing the whole “party” thing, but… I don’t know, what’s really wrong with it? Nothing, I suppose. I’m being safe, I’m not drinking, and the group of people I’m going with right now is pretty receptive and friendly. And I’m entertained. But I’ve built up this expectation for myself that I wouldn’t do this “behavior,” so now I’ve got these thoughts about how maybe what I’m doing is bad and wrong. Even though, in reality, not going out to the bars and clubs at this age would be sort of weird. More weird than just going to the damn bars.

Lots of kids my age travel to Mexico (and Canada, and other places) for the sole purpose of drinking, since the legal drinking age here is 18. If I was in the US, I wouldn’t even be able to go to bars yet, which is sort of weird to think about. My parents and I have talked about how it might actually be healthier to have the drinking age be lower (like 18) rather than higher (like 21), since that way the young people in the states would at least drinking legally. In the States, we all know the kids are drinking. It’s a pretty weird phenomenon really… the whole Kids-Will-Be-Kids mentality has always baffled me. I don’t necessarily have a problem with the drinking, but I do have a problem with denial. Maybe some parents deny these behaviors out of love for their children; their denial is a form of acceptance. But, even if the denial is an attempt at loving acceptance, I have to say that it can turn into a serious safety risk really fast.

In theory, by allowing young people to start going out at night to places like bars and clubs when they reach the adult age of 18, they might decide to be done with the whole business of getting completely wasted sooner rather than later. I’d say most people grow out of that phase to an extent, but… by the time you reach your early 20s, your brain is pretty set up, and breaking the habit of Friday night clubbing and drinking would be more difficult if you started the habit at 21 rather than at 18.

It seems like age is some sort of weird theme in my thoughts… I bring it up a lot. It is important, but I know that it’s not everything either. Age is a complex thing… there’s age in Earth Years, maturity (which is a type of age), and in my opinion, soul age (which I’m not even going to go into). I’m probably concerned about it because I’ve spent so many of my teenage years trying to conceal how old I actually was. The first time I remember hiding my age was when I was 13 and entering into the second semester of my sophomore year in public school. All the kids around me in my grade were 15 and 16, and I felt it was important to not let on how old I was so that they couldn’t take advantage of me. I ended up “secretly” telling an old friend who was in my grade, and then I suppose he told some people. Oh well. I learned from then on to ask people (whenever they asked for my age) how old they thought I was, and then I’d laugh a bit and say “Interesting…”

I never gave them my age (they didn’t try very hard generally, so it wasn’t hard to avoid giving it out). Unless the person asking was a cute boy and then I did, but not until after the aforementioned question. Then it was sort of like flirting instead of a protective measure.

A few weeks ago at the intercambio one of the questions that was passed around at my table was “What do you want to be doing in 10 years?” I discovered that most of the people at my table were 26 or 27, except for me and one guy who was 21 (he was nervous and giddy, being the only male at a table of girls). One of the 26-year-old girls asked me how old I’d be in 10 years, and I took a breath, gauging the situation carefully before I replied that I’d be 28. There was a brief silence at the table, and then I noted a really interesting shift in energy, specifically from the females. Although the other girls had been just fine and friendly with me before, after they realized that I was quite a bit younger than them they started asking me more questions. It was the complete opposite of what I’d expected (which was that they’d diss me and toss me out onto the metaphorical street as “not good enough).

The next week when I was at a bar with one of the girls who had been at my table during the intercambio, I noticed that the same energy shift remained. I felt like she’d decided to take me under her wing, in a way. We talked about boys and dating rituals between different cultures, and she asked me what my parents thought about me going out or dating (she seemed genuinely curious, not judgmental, which was unexpected). I’ve never really had a situation like this where I’d “exposed” my age and then I actually ended up feeling more included rather than less included among my peers. Maybe it’s because I’m a legal adult now? I don’t know. At a different intercambio, I said that I had my first job when I was 15 and that I didn’t remember the name of the business. A boy sitting next to me laughed and nodded saying basically that it made sense that I didn’t remember since that was like, 5 years ago, right? I laughed along with him, and shortly afterward realized that no… that was 3 years ago actually (LOL).

(As a side note, holy crap have things changed in 3 years!)

I kind of like to keep my age to myself. When people don’t know how old you are it’s one less thing they can use to put you in a Labeled Box. I feel guilty sometimes for using linguistic sleights of hand to get around questions or to plant thoughts in people’s minds, but at the same time, like I said earlier in this post, it’s a form of protection. If I’m selling tickets for the callejoneadas to a group of inquisitive Americans, I say that I live with my family, not that I live with my parents. I look young and I am young, but “family” could still be a spouse and a small child or parents or an aunt and uncle or a sibling, or any other relative. It gets a better reaction than saying I live with my parents, especially if I follow it up by saying I live with my family and my two cats.

I won’t lie, when I was younger I got a kick out of avoiding the age question since normally people were a bit shocked by my real age. It was satisfying to tell someone who thought I was 19 that, no, I’m actually 15. Is that cocky? Maybe… but I feel like honesty is the right thing here. After all, anyone who’s reading this knows how old I am now, so I might as well say straight up what’s going on in my head when I avoid the Age Question.

Maybe it’s bad karma to avoid telling people this crucial bit of information. I wanna know how old people are. I place a high value on it. Perhaps I place a high value on it though because it’s been important in my life to me, not necessarily because it’s actually important. I mean, I would rather not marry someone who is a lot younger or a lot older than me, but that doesn’t have to do as much with age in my mind as it does with life path. People who are a lot older or younger are less likely to be experiencing the same major Life Questions, which could create serious relationship conflicts. And plus, to me a large part of the point of being in a serious committed relationship with someone is that you’d be able to work together on some of these existential issues. Or… at least it would be very clear that neither one of you is alone on the problem, and sometimes you’d get pissed off at each other for it, and you’d have to figure out how to resolve that you both are upset because of essentially the same problems (and yes, I know that romantic relationships are more complex and multi-layered than that, I’m just saying).

One of the things that I’ve really enjoyed about being here in Guanajuato is that I’ve been able to mingle with people of all ages and types much more easily. It’s not weird for me to be a part of a group of primarily male musicians comprised of individuals ranging from the ages of 4-64 (okay, actually, it is a bit weird, but in a good way). It’s also perfectly acceptable for me to go out clubbing with people in their mid-twenties. Like my mom has said, this is the right age to be going out and doing the whole Bar Scene. The young people are all going out to the bars and clubs after all, and so it’s a good way to meet people. Or if nothing else it’s an excuse to get to dance with cute boys sometimes.

There’s a part of me that scoffs at the idea of going to bars to meet people. There are so many other better ways to meet people, right? But I’m not going to bars to get laid, and I’m not going to get drunk. If I need to “find myself” and figure out ways to make myself happy before I can meet my soulmate, then this is something I need to do. I’m having fun and I feel happier, and I’m discovering new and important aspects of my personality. And, for all I know, my Person is doing the exact same thing right now (or some variation on it). Who knows, maybe we’ll run into each other at a bar. That would be an interesting twist of the whole I-met-my-spouse-at-a-bar story. Besides that though, even if my Person isn’t out clubbing or going to bars, I’m at least doing something that I’m enjoying (a few things, actually) and I’m getting to meet some interesting people. I get to have new thoughts and insights (have you ever considered how much a person’s dance style says about them?), and I’m learning in depth about a particular aspect of Guanajuato that probably the vast majority of people don’t get to learn about at all, or that they only get to glimpse.

So, yes, I’ve taken up clubbing. And I’m gonna own that until I feel like moving on to something new, whenever that happens.

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