Age is something we continually obessess about – why?
It doesn’t have any real meaning other than the number of days we have lived, but even that in itself is up for discussion. We put things into categories and define certain age groups to signify particular aspects of life and we group and group.
But what I want to know is, how much does all this “definition” confine us? Do we hurt ourselves more by letting our maturity level or place in life be connected with something as trivial as age?
I have many questions and while there is no finite answer to any of them I can’t help but wonder about it today as I take a look at the people around me and myself.
I am not sure about you, but when I meet new people, “how old are you?” is rarely the first question out of their mouth. They often ask me what I do (definer), what I like to do (definer), and what I want/plan on doing (definer). The answers to these questions coupled with the way I look, how I carry myself and my overall confidence level give my new friend some idea of how old I am. Whether conscience or not, they have added me to a category in their mind.
It’s something everyone does – categorize – whether we intend to or not. We compare exes with the present, we go back and forth over a previous and present job, etc. Comparing and articulating what it is we prefer comes quite naturally. It’s the same with the age game.
Almost every new person I meet, and I mean 98% are completely blown away when they find out how old I am. They can’t believe it. Whether they meet the social Ahna, working Ahna, family Ahna – whomever they meet just cannot possibly seem to add up to 28 years old.
“No way,” they say with their mouths dropped open as they stare and stare harder – as if it’s possible that I will look that age if they stare hard enough.
I find this baffling and also very complimentary. Who doesn’t want to look younger once you have passed the quarter-of-a-century old mark? But the truth is that I feel younger at 28 than I did at 22, and even better, I feel like I am only getting younger.
Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to go tho? My entire life I have always felt like I was meeting a young child covered in wrinkles and wrapped in gray hair, when I was around an elderly person. Whether man or woman, as long as they hadn’t become overwhelmed in regret or bitterness, there was something so innocent and naive about their persona.
I work with a woman who is certainly overcome in grayish white hair. She wears glasses and generally pulls her long hair back into a timeless kind of bun. She is old enough to be my grandmother and yet there is a genuine excitement about her that is contagious. When she learns something new her face lights up and her mouth opens. She walks around with her headphones on listening to music. She giggles a lot and while some might think she’s a bit crazy – I just think she knows the secret.
And I think she is perfectly sane.
The secret to age and maintaining it, in my opinion, is by ignoring it. So much enphasis is put on a number that we feel the need to define ourselves by it. My post yesterday was about music and how I love blasting it from my car. I said that I am often reminded of my age when my car is bass-vibrating, but then I say screw it – this is how I want to listen to it – age/old or not!
Why should anyone let themselves be grouped into something they aren’t ready for just because of their age? “Well it’s about time he/she grew up,” “I can’t belive it has taken him/her so long.” Why do we do this to ourselves and to others?
We are robbing ourselves of the very essence of our humanity. We aren’t meant to begin or finish things in our life just because we reach or pass a certain age. We aren’t meant to allow ourselves to become “adults” just because we are “supposed to.”
We lose what is most precious about ourselves by taking that route. Our genuine curiosity, the childlike optimism, the wide-eyes (ya, not over someone else’s gossip), the loud laughter and obnoxious amount of questions.
People who enjoy children are usually those that realize they can be silly with them when no one is looking. No one will judge them. They don’t have to “act their age” or “be mature.” They can be whatever they want, because children can be whatever they want.
And isn’t that the quintessential fountain of youth – the answer to our own personal life and growth? If we can’t be ourselves and be silly at whatever age we want to be – then what can we do?
In a day and age where work, work, work is so blatantly stressed and geez, everyone is stressed, it is important to remember to remain true to the younger self inside. People think I act goofy sometimes, but I am okay with that. I can definitely be very serious and be very professional when the time or occasion calls for it, but I prefer to make people laugh and laugh myself.
One life. Just one. Are you going to spend it as a child would? Seeking, learning, enjoying? Or working, stressing, sighing?