I have always experienced ageism. I pride myself on my intelligence and knowledge of different subjects, which has been acquired through a life of reading and personal research. However, upon learning that I am a ‘young person’, people will say:
“Oh, you don’t know anything. Wait until you get to my age.”
This is nonsense, of course. Any intelligent person will understand that the notion of being ‘clever’ does not pertain to a certain age or life experience. Recently, I have been scouting for writing competitions as it is my goal/need to win one. If that’s what will get my name into people’s mouths, then I am determined to rise to the top. However, there are so many competitions for the youth. The cut off point will vary, but it usually ranges from twenty-one to twenty-five. I am turning twenty-five next month, and it is being made extremely clear that I am no longer a promising young woman.
At this stage of my life and career, I feel I should be in higher places than I am. I talk about this frequently, but I am tragically overlooked. The arts is a place full of passion, but it is plagued with favouritism and social hierarchy. Your own perceived talent only gets you so far. Plenty of artists have inflated egos, so much so that they cannot acknowledge disparity. Instead, they claim that you aren’t talented enough, or that you need to stop complaining and work harder.
There is no inbetween for a woman of my age. I am too old to be in a youth group, but too young to be among the elders. Great opportunities come with so many restrictions. I will spot that an anthology is looking for submissions, but they specifically require stories between 5,000 – 7,000 words. They don’t realise that they are pushing folk away by placing these chains on our art.
If you are an artist of some kind, and you don’t live in London, then you will find it cumbersome trying to make a name for yourself. All my attempts are online. I may move to London one day, but it is extortionate. The government also needs to have a word with themselves, as the minimal funding they give to my industry usually centres around London. The rest of the country doesn’t get a look in.
I cannot look to the future anymore, and I am becoming increasingly desperate for some acknowledgment for all the work I have and continue to do. It is not up to me to say that I am talented, but I am fiercely passionate about my writing, but I feel invisible. It doesn’t matter where I go, there will always be others who are given a God complex. I strongly believe in equal praise for all.
This brings me on to briefly discuss our hypocrisy. So many of us talk about how we want equal opportunity, yet we continue to hold court jesters high and tell the soldiers below that if only they tried as hard as them, they too would be held up by their collar.
I describe myself as a ghost in a business of banshees. I feel unseen, unheard, uncared for, and like I haven’t honoured what I feel I am. I have always wanted to be great. I have suffered years and years of people comparing me to others. Nothing I do is ever enough, despite how I feel about my own work. What will it take? Do I need to scream from the rooftops? Shall I beat my heart as I perform my poetry to the onlookers? I have been forced into anonymity, and nobody wants to help me.