Chinese Artist, Designer and Royal College of Art graduate Lumao Luyan reflects on aging in China.

Words by Lumao Luyan.

Sometimes I feel like my age is very relevant, other times I don't. I feel like I am 19 in the morning when I wake up but then back to 25 before I sleep. When I was in school I always felt I was 19 — a really funny age for me and I don’t know why I am so obsessed with being 19. I do sometimes have those thoughts of ‘oh I should do this or that before 30 or 28’, but also I like finding something that I can do no matter what my age is. I would love to be 19 forever, although I can’t stop my physical appearance changing.

Age is more of a social identity for me in China. It’s more like a label: you have your certain obligations for certain ages. It’s like a default setting. Everyone in different ages has a certain role to play. To be honest I don’t like that, and I also worried that I will become like that one day. Now I am 25 (turning 26 this year) everyone around me will start asking me about my relationship, as they are expecting me to be married soon.

I recently just met some people from my new job, and it feels quite different with the people I know / knew me before this place. Now I am not in school anymore, people I meet are mostly from work, they are more experienced than me, and it really doesn't matter if they are younger or older than me.

I think there will always be bigger stress which come up in my life from where I am now. So yeah, I do feel a bit stressed at this moment. It’s mostly relevant to how old I am now. I discussed this "problem" with a friend in few days ago. It’s like, I am still 25, but everyone is worrying if I should get married now. Well, it’s like a common thing in China that people should get married before 30, especially for women. Age is a critical situation for women around 26-30 who are still single, as you are supposed to have a stable job, but also are expected to think about finding a partner to marry. I am not talking about just relationships, but marriage. This is the most important thing in terms of ageing, for me at the moment, here in China.

I am in a steady relationship at the moment, and that makes me happy. I think I am mature enough to be in a serious relationship now. None of us are thinking too much about the future, which seems to remove the pressure of the relationship, and it is even a long distance relationship.  

"Age is more like a social identity for me in China. It’s more like a label: you have your certain obligations for certain ages. It’s like a default setting. Everyone in different ages has a certain role to play. To be honest I don’t like that, and I also worried if I will become like that one day."

Lumao Luyan.

Lumao's final major project at The Royal College of Art. The Hockney Gallery, London 2016

If I have to think about the shared challenges across all ages, I guess it is to find out what we really want to achieve. Like what kind of life we want? We all live in a crazy information overloaded era, we have more choices now, but we also seem to be getting more and more confused. I guess everyone will have this kind of confusion occasionally in spite of their age. My challenge is that I am confused and not sure about how do I make choice for myself. Sometimes I am just telling myself, I’ll regret either way, so fuck it (lol).

Older people seem to be more calmer in a way. Not because they have more experience in life or anything, but they seem to be better at facing unexpected things (either good or bad things) in a more confident way. But some people who are younger than me actually act more like an adult than me?

If we had a society where age didn't define us, I think people would become more open minded.

"If we had a society where age didn't define us, I think people would become more open minded."

Lumao Luyan.

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