I have had the great privilege for the past six years to contribute to the community in a most unique way: I perform a one-woman play on relationship violence at many of the area's high schools.
The 30-minute performance entitled "The Yellow Dress" deals with signs of abuse, the reasons people stay in abusive partnerships, and the consequences of not trusting (or listening to) your instincts. Each performance is followed by a 20-30 minute panel discussion (the panel consists of professionals from the region who specialize in helping victims of abuse pick up the pieces.)
Students can ask questions and get direct answers. No subject is taboo. After each performance, I always leave the school with a sense of wonder at what some of these kids are dealing with in their personal lives. (They tend to really "open up".) It's amazing any of them can function at all.
(As an aside, the group that organizes each performance is The Donald Heiter Community Center, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. They are a phenomenal community resource and I am awed by what they are able to accomplish.)
Being able to educate young crowds of up to 300 students and teachers has been so fulfilling... but there's a problem that's been brewing for the past two years: I have to look like "one of them." (Or at least look like I'm in my early-to-mid twenties.)
At 35, that isn't easy.
Fortunately, I've been blessed with "good" genes. However, the day is fast approaching when I simply can no longer fool teenagers into believing that I'm close to their ages. No matter what I wear, no matter how well I can act, the lines on my face are a dead giveaway that I have several years under my belt.
I've never been what you'd call "vain"--make-up is something I only occasionally wear, and my fashion sense is woefully lacking. However, I've begun to investigate "firming" creams and moisturizers in the hopes of eking out another year or two of doing this play. I feel almost guilty for doing so, as if I'm trying to cheat Mother Nature or Father Time or any of their kids. (You knew they were married, right?)
Is it wrong for me to want to continue doing this play? I'm not certain. I do love it dearly, and although it's emotionally demanding, it's one of my favorite roles from a theatrical perspective. (And I've had plenty in the 25+ years I've been addicted to the stage!)
So I'm constantly telling myself, "You must look young." All the while, I know that I cannot stop growing older. (And, let's face it... I'd much rather keep celebrating birthdays than stop living.)
No one said being an adult would be easy.