Student Blog: KIMBERLY AKIMBO and the Plight of Growing Up

How the Tony Award-winning musical eased my fears about aging.

Student Blog: KIMBERLY AKIMBO and the Plight of Growing Up

Turning 20 is something I’ve been dreading for a while, and have had a lot of panicked, scared feelings about. Seeing “Kimberly Akimbo” on Broadway a few months ago was healing for me.

Every year, getting older doesn’t seem to get easier. I remember being younger and not thinking about age at all. Now it feels like an inescapable change every year where I face expectations and disappointments. I feel insecure about not feeling grown up enough, I compare myself to the people my age who have accomplished more, it’s something I’ve been trudging through. Teenagerhood is hard, but part of me wants to cling to it forever. 

"Kimberly Akimbo" is a musical about hope. It's heartbreaking, and yet the most optimistic thing I've ever seen. It's about a teenage girl named Kimberly Levaco, who suffers from a disease that causes her age rapidly, appearing around the age of 65. There was a certain moment that stuck out to me:

“Getting older is my affliction. Getting older is your cure.” 

Hearing Colleen Fitzpatrick as Kimberly deliver that line right at the audience struck a chord in me. The idea that this thing that I’ve been terrified of and dreading could be positive? That was invaluable to hear. I never considered how much better it might be on the other side of these feelings. Growing up feels impossible but it saves us. It’s something I am so lucky to experience, through all of its hardships and beautiful moments. I am so lucky to get older. I’m lucky to get out of teenagerhood. As scary as it is, I know I’ll feel grateful for it. 

“Kimberly Akimbo” reminded me that there are good things in the world that make growing up manageable. Seth and Kimberly’s connection, complimenting your friend’s suspenders, going ice skating on a Friday night, playing Uno in the library, family dinners (even when they go sideways). These are the kinds of moments I want to cherish, the moments where the people around me are trying to tell me that I belong. It’s easier to hear it as I get older.

I’m hoping to take on composer Jeanine Tesori’s belief that life is a “Great Adventure.” I want that song to be my anthem, I want to remember it everywhere I go. I’m hoping if I can channel at least the tiniest bit of Kimberly’s perspective, that the world will seem bright even when I question my place in it. Aging is something that will continue to feel complicated, I think, but with art like “Kimberly Akimbo” being made I feel a lot better about taking it on. I knew that the tears I shed in that theater meant that the show would stay with me forever.

I’m turning 20 and it feels like the end of the world, but growing up is my cure. And I’m going to enjoy this “Great Adventure” wherever it takes me.