I’m going to ruin something for you, one of those “can’t unsee”, or in this case “can’t unhear” moments: Have you noticed how often people ask you how old you are?
I hadn’t, until recently.
I was meeting up with an old friend for coffee, mainly to meet her new girlfriend, and within 20 minutes of meeting her I asked her how old she was.
Her response was awesome. “I actually don’t tell people my age.”
Instantly, I was embarrassed because I felt that I had crossed a line, but she went on to tell me that I hadn’t but age simply doesn’t matter.
“What difference does it make if I was 47 or 25… why did you need to know that to continue having this conversation?
After saying our goodbyes, I pondered about it… why did I ask?
I realized it was because I wanted to justify the advice I wanted to give her… if she was younger than me I could impart my wisdom, my life experience. If she was older however, my advice probably wasn’t as sound. In short, my asking her her age was some weird roundabout way of finding justification to belittle her, or talk down to her. In another light, it was a form of disqualification of my own advice, as if my lived experience was only useful if she was younger and that it wouldn’t be to someone older than me.
It was a real mind altering moment for me.
I told myself I will never tell someone my age again. Not because I am ashamed of how old I am, I’m not. It’s because it really doesn’t add anything to the conversation, nor to a friendship, or a relationship (unless of course it comes to being underage, in which case it’s a legal issues but I’m not getting into that.)
I have met 17 year olds who know more about politics, life, love and loss than some 50 year olds. I have met 30 year olds who have the maturity of 18 year olds and 10 year olds who have the maturity of 70 year old wise monks.
AGE IS BUT A NUMBER.
Perhaps if there was a level-of-experience-measurement in life that we could throw at each other, then it would be worth asking. But how long you have lived, isn’t really a measurement on how much you know or don’t know. It isn’t a measurement on how valid your wisdom is.
There are other really good reasons not to tell people your age.
1. Certain careers, (modelling, acting, singing, sports) will force you into retirement once they feel you are too old to represent their brand. By not telling people your age, you can go ahead working due to your talent and not your “expiry date”
2. No one will force you to get on their schedule. Ever been told you have to settle down or have children, or hit a certain job milestone? Has anyone ever told you that “you still have time, you’re young?” They can’t do that when they don’t know your age! And all of that is a form of belittling, by the way.
3. No one will ever tell you, “WOW YOU DON’T LOOK (your age)” This is one of my biggest pet peeves. I realize it’s meant to be a compliment, but the truth of the matter is, in fact you do. You do look that age, because you are that age. What they’re really saying with this bizarre compliment is “you don’t look as old as I imagined people your age look”. Weird Flex but okay.
4. People don’t encourage bad habits by relating to your age. This happens on either side of the age spectrum. When you are “young” you can make excuses for partying, eating too much, making stupid decisions, and you will meet someone of the same age who can justify all that. “We’re 17, we’re still young, doing a little coke won’t hurt.” I realize that’s super dramatic…but it’s the drug of choice in high schools at the moment. When you are “old” you can make excuses for being tired and not wanting to exercise, not going out, not enjoying yourself. “We’re 60, our backs are going to ache, it doesn’t matter whether we go to the gym or not”… I won’t get too into this, but working out while you age is so important for bone health!
5. You never have to be subject to the feeling of uselessness. This is particularly for women, mainly because we are essentially told that after 30 we are unseen, and don’t even get me started with after 50! It’s this odd phenomenon. Many women believe it and I have dated a handful of men who swear by it. Which is disgusting. If no one knows your age, they can’t make you feel invisible, ugly, unwanted, less than human. If no one knows your age, you can parade around as the perfect person you are without judgment (at least in that respect).
There are many more, but are you starting to see my point?
Since keeping my age to myself I am happier. I am more free, open minded, and much more willing to accept any advice, and trust my own. Oddly, it has helped me to become more mature. I would encourage anyone, of any age to try it. I’m not saying you have to do it – but maybe try it out and see how it feels?
You may find yourself a whole new world.
~Athena and Hermes~