You Can Be Young Forever Online

Nobody needs to know your real age

Photo by Ali Pazani on Unsplash

This is a big year for my classmates — we’re all reaching the age that matches the last two digits of our birth year, and we all have our ways of dealing with this momentous age.

One of my classmates spent weeks leading up to his birthday, proclaiming his advancing age far and wide. This may have been a way to get used to the idea of being this new age, or as a diversionary tactic.

I’m not positive that he wasn’t drawing everyone’s attention to his impending birthday as a way to take the focus off some caper or con he was doing. If everyone is so focused on your age, they’re not going to notice when you get away with stealing a priceless piece of art.

Well played, my friend.

I’m not, obviously, comfortable coming out as a person of a certain age or as a mature adult for that matter. I do respect and appreciate those who embrace their age.

My personal ageism isn’t limited to any age over 40 — I’ve had a hard time with every age I’ve ever been. I lamented turning 13 because I was no longer a child, and it’s been the same every year.

I’m over 30. Oh sure, you can tell that by looking at me, because even though the chubbiness of my face stretches out my facial wrinkles, there’s not a room dark enough for me to pass for 30.

However, the older ladies at my Aqua Motion class thought I was 35, but that’s because they don’t wear their glasses in the pool.

Pro Tip: Being around older people has many pluses including learning from them, benefiting from their wisdom, and being young in comparison.

No matter what age you are, find someone older to hang out with.

I’m not starting with my future open wide before me. But don’t tell anyone, for I’m currently deep undercover as a young person. I’m Serpico, only with tats. Okay, I don’t have any tattoos but know that if I were a twenty-something, I’d have a bunch of them, matching piercings, and shaved everything.

I write for some online women’s websites, and at least one of them thinks I’m under 30. I’ve perfected how to be young forever, or at least on the internet.

One of the sites I write for isn’t only targeted towards young women, most of their writers are just out of college. I was writing for another site, and my editor liked me so much she took me along with her when she left. I don’t think if I had just applied, I would have gotten the job because I would have had to tell them how old I am.

I won’t be able to retire anytime soon, so I need to keep up the pretense of being younger for as long as I can.

I avoid filling out any volunteer surveys about how I spend my money, or what dating is like for me. Networking mixers for staff are also out. I don’t have a camera on my computer which makes me look like a technophobe — a bad sign, but at least they can’t see my gray hair.

I’m terrified, I’m going to be outed as an oldster.

I also like to keep my profile pics for these sites abstract. If my photo looks more like a painting done in the Pointillism style than a Diane Arbus picture — no one will ever guess my age.

All illnesses and injuries are sports-related. If you must have knee replacement surgery, it’s because you wore them out playing competitive tennis. Arthritis is a dirty word as is gout. Strike them from your vocabulary and substitute Tennis Elbow, Groin Pull, and ACL instead.

Run no marathons or say anything quote-worthy. If someone quotes you or you place in a race; they may be required to post your age, and you’ll be outed. Keep your bon mots and athletic prowess to yourself.

Start lying about your age, as soon as possible. If you’re already 40 or above, it’s probably too late for you. The same goes for a social media presence. If you were a social media influencer from an early age, it’s easy for people to do the math and come up with old.

Update your references to pop culture regularly. If you must mention someone you like that’s old school, say that you learned about them from your parents. Do not say the theme of your Senior Prom was Stairway to Heaven.

Feign ignorance when it comes to CDs, dial phones, VHS, drive-ins, and yellow pages. Example: Old person says, “We had some good times at the drive-in when I was a teenager.” Your response should be, “What’s a drive-in?”

Do the math before anyone else. Know that if you say you went to such and such concert, people will figure out the date and unless you say you went as an embryo in mother’s stomach. People are geniuses when it comes to sussing out people’s real ages.

Don’t use words like suss, malarkey, potluck, shenanigans, thrice, or lover.

Become an expert at denial. If a classmate insists on making comments about your time together in Mrs. Smith’s Home Ec class, delete them from Facebook. You can treasure the times you spent together alone.

Get upset when you don’t get congratulated just for trying. Millennials got prizes for participating when they were growing up, so you need to adopt that “I showed up, isn’t that enough?” attitude too.

Don’t share your amazing memory. When someone posts a “Do you remember” meme or quiz on Facebook, don’t share your results. Your knowledge of 60s sitcoms is evidence that could be used against you.

Stay current. Keep up on the vernacular of the time and be aware that it changes very fast. “On fleek” is out, and if you use it, it will sound wrong and may call for closer inspection of your age.

Be more than age-vague. If someone asks you your age point blank, don’t say that you forgot or that it’s a woman’s prerogative to hide her age, that’s like putting a flashing neon sign up. Please people, just out and out lie. They’ll look like a jerk if they hound you further.

Be Mindful of your email provider. Do not have an oldster email address — that means no Yahoo, no AOL, and no EarthLink. Go for Gmail.

Leave things off your resume. Sure, you’re proud of your first job but it was in the late 1970s when you supposedly weren’t born yet.

Be careful with your words. Never write a piece about how to appear younger than you are because if you were young, you probably wouldn’t care.

Never use two spaces after a period. Nothing says I learned to type on a typewriter than one space after a period.

To my classmates, of course, I wish you a happy 40th++ birthday, and I expect you to do the same when it comes time for mine — many many years from now.


For the woman in the middle.

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Christine Schoenwald

Written by

Writer for The Los Angeles Times, Salon, The Startup, Tenderly, Fearless She Wrote, MuddyUm.


Helping you to create an oasis in the middle of your crisis of managing work, family, relationships, parenting, menopause, and caregiving.

Christine Schoenwald

Written by

Writer for The Los Angeles Times, Salon, The Startup, Tenderly, Fearless She Wrote, MuddyUm.


Helping you to create an oasis in the middle of your crisis of managing work, family, relationships, parenting, menopause, and caregiving.

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