How old are you?

I don’t understand why people get so obsessed with hiding their age. The other day a colleague at work was turning 30 something and he was saying how he tricks his mind into believing the entire year he is one year older so that when he remembers he is actually not that age, he feels younger. Why do we need to trick ourselves into thinking we are younger? It’s not even about lying to others, it’s become about lying to ourselves. People tell me that I don’t understand because I’m still in my (late) twenties. Ok, possibly but not necessarily.

What I am eager to understand is what exactly are they pursuing when they want to be younger. Is it a younger appearance? Is it less responsibility? Is it more flexibility? My theory from purely talking to people is that, yes they want to look younger but the main driver is not being judged based on their age. And that is the key answer I think. Judgement.

You hear an age and instantly you have an image in your head of all the characteristics that come with that number. 35 for example, what does that age tell us? Well it might say that it is someone who is an adult, knows themselves well, has accepted who they are, is stable in some ways, has an apartment, maybe married, maybe has kids but not necessarily, has a stable job and that savings bank account for rainy days. We also imagine someone who maybe likes to go for dinners and is less likely to be seen in a disco behaving inappropriately.

We expect someone this age to be this way (more or less) but what happens when you don’t fit into that stereotype? Stereotypes related to a country or a nation are usually there to mock people and sort of challenge them to prove they are not like that. It’s easier to be proud of not fitting into the typical French stereotype for example. However when it comes to age, a lot of the things related to an age stereotype are not necessarily bad or insulting hence not fitting into an age stereotype is confusing. If I am 35 and I’m not married, I don’t have kids, I’m still renting and I’m still figuring out who I am, is that good, bad, weird? There is no universal answer and that’s when it becomes very personal and subjective. That’s also where different generations meet and judge. For an older generation, being single and quite tra la la (what I normally use to describe someone who is maybe not at all times serious) may be unacceptable while for a younger generation that is completely normal.

So I think the pursuit of being younger is actually the pursuit of breaking a stereotype and having the freedom to not feel guilty about who you are. A younger age is more forgiving of our flaws, our mistakes and our personalities and that’s why we want to be back in that seat.

Now the final question I have to ask myself is would I lie about my age? Wisdom is acquired through time and experience and hiding your age sometimes takes away from that shine — so no, I would not. This is the advice I would give to my future, older self.

Enough crazy for today.