Last weekend I went clubbing with some friends, well I guess you can’t call it clubbing when you only go to one club. So I went to a club with friends. Actually it wasn’t really a club it was more of a country honkytonk that was barely a bar, but still enough of one to check ID’s at the door and draw gigantic X’s on my hand to mark that I may be old enough to get in but I am nowhere near the proper age to consume fermented barely, corn, or grapes. These X’s were made with a marker that was more permanent than a sharpie. Yes, there are markers that last longer than sharpies and yes, I was just as shocked as you are when I found this out last weekend. Now mom, I may have gone to a bar but don’t worry I did make it home safely and was in bed a little after midnight.
However, I did not go through the effort to thoroughly wash my hands before I went to bed that night because I had to get up early the next day and get in a chlorinated pool for lifeguard training. Which I thought would be enough to wash away the X’s. Unfortunately, the marker they used must have been some super magical, industrial strength, borderline tattoo marker because after I got out of the pool the gigantic black X’s where not a single shade lighter than the night before. I immediately went into the lifeguard office opened up the first aid kit and scoured my hands with alcohol wipes. This slightly lighten the X’s to an 8 (on a scale of one to ten with ten being the shade that they were when the lady at the bar marked my hands/when I went to bed/when I woke up/ when I got out of the pool).
Frustrated by my inability to erase the marks from my hands I proceeded on with my day finding every excuse to wash my hands and slowly erase the giant X’s. I was not embarrassed by the fact that I went out to a bar the night before, but rather tired of hearing the comments of, “looks like someone had a good night,” or, “I see you like to party.” Which was true but not in the context that people were presenting it.
As my day progressed and the X’s on my hands went from an 8 to a 7 to a 6 I began to notice that a lot of people were shocked to learn that I was under the age of 21. Many of the people that I interact with on a regular basis though that I was older than that. This spurred me to ask what made them think I was so old because to me I still feel like the young boy I was a few years ago living at home with mommy not worrying about anything but my high school crush and how my pig was going to perform at the next show. Yes, I said pig. No, that was not a typo.
Those who thought I was older than I actually was assumed this because of the maturity that I carried myself with, and the wisdom about life I bestowed upon them. People did not evaluate me based on how I felt, or what position/title I held. But rather in the manner that I carried myself. My ability to do things was not limited by a number or designation but rather on how I presented myself. I may be a few months past the threshold of adulthood, but people viewed me as a semi experienced adult and followed my influence as if I was older. Which is great when I am trying to motivate people to get on the right path or make the right choice. But also terrifying when I can unknowingly have such a huge impact on the people around me.
The X’s on my hands served as a sobering reminder that my limitations are not given to me by other people but are based solely upon me and what I restrict myself to.
So I challenge you to not be limited by labels but rather carry yourself in the manner to which you want to become. Because the way you carry yourself is the way people will see you. Remember to make good choices and I’ll see you on Thursday.
P.S. According to my Coworkers the marker was not special I just let my skin bond with ink overnight making it nearly impossible to remove. Which I should have known from all my clubbing (or lack thereof). So if any of y’all decide to go clubbing anytime soon, remember to wash your hands before you go to bed and not wait to soak them in chlorine the next day.