Homegrown Hollywood: Yes ma'am, I'm beginning to feel more powerful
People have started to call me ma'am. I don't know when this started. If I think back over the last few months, it seems to coincide with my marriage, but that's probably just my imagination. Recently, I handed my keys to a valet and he said, "Ha...
People have started to call me ma'am.
I don't know when this started. If I think back over the last few months, it seems to coincide with my marriage, but that's probably just my imagination.
Recently, I handed my keys to a valet and he said, "Have a good night, ma'am."
I got into my car and looked in the mirror. Maybe it's my haircut.
Ever since I can remember, people have called me "miss."
"Miss" implies fragile, sweet, wide-eyed and, of course, young - a woman who is navigating the confusing waters of personhood.
Ma'ams are never confused. They know exactly where they are going, and you should probably get out of their way because they are going there very fast.
Which is one of the reasons this new name has thrown me for a loop.
There are landmarks in life that stop you in your tracks and make you reflect for a second. Big things, like renting an apartment and discovering how to pose for a photo so that your arm looks three times smaller than it actually is.
For me, this is one of those times.
When I was first hit with the ma'ams, I was a little panicked.
Getting older in Los Angeles can be difficult. Getting older while working in an industry that once told 37-year-old actor Maggie Gyllenhaal she was too old to play the love interest of a 55-year old man is terrifying.
In this town, women's abilities are rarely placed before their looks. Without getting into the obvious fury this inspires in me, it also makes success seem more unattainable. Women seem to have a smaller window in which to succeed - a clock has been added to an already difficult dream.
When I was young, I read a lot of books about princesses. They were always young and beautiful, in contrast to the queens who were old and severe. I wanted to be a princess.
Now that I'm older, I have realized an important secret about queens. They may not have the young lover or the fresh face, but they have all the power.
I spent most of my 20s feeling powerless, swirling in a system of arbitrary rules that I didn't quite understand. I attended countless auditions with other women who were like young, perfectly skinned, gazelles. I spent a majority of my 20s wishing I was thinner, smarter and stronger, with smaller feet.
I'm older now. And I've realized I would rather be the queen. Even though it can be frightening to age, it also can be wonderful.
I've stopped holding on to negative things people say, I've stopped worrying if people like me, and I've realized I can renew my DMV registration at AAA because I'm an adult and I belong to that club now.
When I crawled into my late 20s and was still evoking the "miss," I felt thankful for my face cream and my mother's young genes.
But life unspools in front of you and you don't even remember how you got here. Things I never thought would happen to me started happening. Marriage. Talking about kids. Finding a career I love. And then one day I looked around and realized people were calling me ma'am.
Maybe it's because of a few extra smile lines or the fact that my jeans are a little tighter. Or maybe, I'm not powerless anymore.
In a town full of princesses, I'm starting to feel like a queen.
Jessica Runck, who grew up in Wimbledon, N.D., and graduated from Concordia College, is a writer and actor living in Los Angeles. Visit www.jessicarunck.com for more information.