Being age 30 in a sport where if you don’t start before age 10 you’re considered doomed is tough. It’s tough to be taken seriously by teachers, judges, and observers. It’s hard to find a dress that is your size and doesn’t look like it was designed by a 12 year old girl. It’s demoralizing when the governing body of Irish dance makes clear that you’re not to be taken seriously, and limits your competition to an age-independent category where you’re forced to wear tights to cover your old lady legs, cannot compete in major competitions or for a world title, and are limited in your progression to the highest pre-championship level. It’s a feat of strength and will to compete against kids half your age or younger when you decide damn the man, I’m going to work my way into championship levels and thus begin competing in age groups ranging from 13&over to 20&over. It’s a harsh reminder that you’re not welcome when parents accuse you of stealing medals from their precious children, give you a snide comment about how your dress looks on you, or want to know what you’re trying to prove by competing with kids.
Because clearly following your own dreams is frowned upon, and you should instead live vicariously through your children.
I’m lucky in a big way, though. There’s a strong adult presence in my local area and a lot of adults have dropped down to dance the regular competitions before I even knew about Irish dance, so there’s a precedent in my area. I’m short with a round face and get asked occasionally what grade I’m in, so I sometimes can blend in with the kiddos. I have an extremely supportive teacher and studio that will support me as far as I want to and can go. The kids at my studio and in my classes never question my presence in their class and treat me like I belong.
But being “old” does have its disadvantages. Number 1 being I just don’t heal like a kid.
I fall. I bruise. I tweak things. So far I’ve been fortunate to avoid any major injuries, but I can feel my body just isn’t what it once was.
Cue my current complaint. After class on Monday the arch of my foot has been pretty sore. It comes and goes, and it’s not as bad today as it was yesterday, but I’m worried about it. I’m not sure what’s wrong with my foot, but I worry if I dance or do a lot of cross training as I planned this week that it will just get worse.
So, that’s where I am. Laid up from doing anything involving my foot in an effort to nip it in the bud before it turns into an actual injury. Hoping to do something core and upper body related to keep active as I can’t walk and dance like I want to. Thinking about how much it sucks getting older. Still glad I don’t have to ask my parents’ permission for anything dance related.