The Virago
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The Virago

Rage Against Time: Reframing Ageism For The Youth

Life — not time — is what you make out of it, regardless of your age.

Photo by Jan Kopřiva on Unsplash

“My goal is to arrive to the end satisfied and in peace
with my loved ones and my conscience.
I hope that your goal is the same,
because either way you will get there too .. “ Mário de Andrade

Dear teen, twenty, thirty somethin’,

I am 47. Please do not be sorry and do not try to console me by telling me I look younger than my age. The contemporary age narrative is a disgrace and you don’t want to inadvertently contribute to it, do you? Besides, I am genuinely more sorry for your age, and you definitely do not look younger. I thought you should know.

Dear teen, twenty, thirty somethin’, I know you have 37 windows and 46 notifications imposing their presence and demanding your ever-so-divided attention, yet please, keep reading because I happen to care for you, I do.

While the world is distracted counting grey hairs and wrinkles, the contemporary narrative around time and age is affecting the lives of younger generations way more than the older ones, and it is not ok. When it comes to ageism, young generations are getting dealt the worst hand. Dear youth, I could not care less if you called me a pathetic middle-aged woman, yet I am here to tell you that you deserve better, we all do.

Ah yes, while I am at that, please don’t buy into the age/generational/cultural divide crap; at the age of 47 we condone almost everything with an accepting smile, but the truth is that we smell BS from very far away, like galaxies away.

One thing is clear, no one is allowed to live their life (and age) in its unpredictable richness and with dignity.

I don’t know where to turn

I will be honest, I don’t know where to vomit, so much my stomach tightens, when I see sexy 4-year old baby influencers being traded by their very own parents on Instagram. I don’t know whether I am more disgusted by the make-up, padding, filters and attitudes put on young girls to please the eyes and expectations of older-men, or by how older women are treated, probably the former.

One thing is clear, no one is allowed to live their life (and age) in its unpredictable richness and with dignity. Stripped of our humanness, we have become unhappy beasts all caged up to compete for attention and entertain on demand.

We are bombarded with the myths of the young — emphasis on the age — Zuckerberg du jour. Someone who built a multi-billion dollar empire selling personal data and employing top cognitive and behavior specialists, psychologists and the like, to create a platform that is designed to spread fear, drama and addiction, chapeau!

A toddler who missed ethics 101, human rights 101, and basic decency 101, a young guy who was not given the benefit of time to root and grow, and ended up becoming a premature adult, who thinks he can enjoy freedom without accountability and responsibility, even at the kind age of 37. Maturity takes time, yet it does not necessarily come with age.

Meanwhile, suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among young males and the third for young females. Silicon Valley has built a reputation for fostering and putting on pedestals overworked young wanna-be-self-made-men-and-millionaires, who suffer from sleep deprivation, addiction, and mental health, while in the Valley suicide is on the rise, and everybody seems too busy to care. Dear younger people, instead of worrying for older people, you should be worrying about you not making it to old age at all.

Let’s get the basics right

Age does not exists, life does. Your life is a playlist of moments, which are made of experiences that generate emotions. Please read this one more time.

Time is a convention, it breaks down something totally inconsequential into something consequential, so that flights can take off and land without crashing into each other, and you can calculate your retirement age, assuming you’ll make it.

Life is not measured in years, but in energy, enthusiasm, love, kindness, compassion, peace, people, goodness, in the whole spectrum of human emotions, and everything that makes life worth living.

Life is like your personal banker who is investing in you by giving you very precious time, and who is waiting for its time-shares to turn into golden nuggets made of precious moments and emotions.

You are living on credit, do not be casual about how you spend or waste your time just because you think you can. It is fair yet unfortunate that the older you grow, the better you get at discarding BS, and laser-focus only on what matters and creates ridiculously large returns.

What’s the rush?

Life is not a time-bomb, life is life, you do not have to reach sign posts by a specific date, you do not have to live with the fear of an imminent detonation, you don’t have to make a million of whatever (dollars, followers, downloads, nanosatellites or period pants) by any time, you do not need to have children, a family, a Ph.D. and a career by 30, or any other age.

Seriously, if you think life is a fight against time, please consider that no matter what, no one gets out of here alive. Amen.

Dear young people, I know they have made you believe that you have to make an impact before turning 23. Please hear me well, all this time-obsession benefits this sick system.

You have been put on a tightrope, where you have been given no formal role, little responsibility, doubtful recognition, and yet you feel enormous pressure, none of this is fair.

Competence takes time and hard work to build, not just for you but for everybody. You need a trained strong back to carry heavy loads, you are smart but you need to ground before taking off, besides, there is a not-so-fine line between wanting to make an impact and managing one’s ego, please learn the difference asap.

Premature adulthood stinks, we see it all around, this is not something you should aim towards, enjoy your youth, enjoy your life and allow yourself the privilege of growing (old).

Faking maturity

I do not know what’s worst, older people trying to look younger or younger people trying to look older, in both cases everybody is pretending to be something they are not, and not enjoying it.

I see the word “senior” in the job description of 28-something product managers, but a 40-something woman can not use the same word which instead suggests some passed best-before-date.

I feel sorry for photoshopped teens and twenty-something who define themselves “influencers” with zero experience or knowledge of anything besides some acting and marketing skills, and good looks.

It is a sad carnage to watch, the bar is so low that everybody is just there to scream louder, and create more drama.

Meetings are filled with young people who have to look more confident, outspoken, expert and reassuring than their age and experience allows.

It is ok to pee in your pants, look shaky, insecure, and not having your shit together at any age, but if you are young, seriously, that is your thing, honour it, learn from it, do not put up a show and raise expectations beyond reason.

I have seen this too many times, we have created an environment where young people do not feel safe to live and show their age, their inexperience, and screw up. Some have built such an alter ego they do not know who they are anymore, others have built an armor too tight to allow them to grow.

Growing older is a blessing and a privilege, a privilege that you build everyday with your thoughts, words and actions.

You are made to believe that older people live in a state of envy towards younger generations, honestly I would not want to be any younger nor older than I am, I am after precious moments not random numbers, everyday is a gift that you receive and give, a gift that comes in moments for everyone.

Dear teen, twenty, thirty somethin’, get out of your head for a moment, I know it is hard, been there done that, you have my compassion. You too are growing older every single day, growing older is for badass, only losers get stuck in this age-game-of-thrones.

Embrace life not time

Invest in moments that feed your heart and soul and those of the people around you, moments that are part of your life and who you are forever, memories and emotions that you can bring with you through time, space and ultimately your grave.

Please do not mistake what you save in your iCloud with what you build in your life and heart.

At best, you can only be present in one place at a time, you have to chose WHETHER you want to invest your time in saving pictures on Instagram OR save moments in your heart, yes, it is mutually exclusive, and no, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

Dear young people, what you post on Instagram is not your life, it is a testimony of how often you interrupt your life, of how little you value your life to the point that updating your status has priority to actually living your life. If you were really present in enjoying your life you would not want to stop that for anything in the world.

Go back to you personal bank of emotions and see what’s left of so many hours of swiping, can you recall emotions without looking at your phone for a hint? Can you prove you have a life without your phone? Your emotions should be so rooted that you do not need a phone to recall the good times. Ask your grandma about her amazing life, the details, the moments she saved, the stories, she does not need a photo to show you her emotions they trespass her heart through her eyes.

Taking 17 photos to post a good one, photoshopping and using filters is a sign of not accepting your age and how it shows on your face and body, it is a distortion we should not take lightly at any age.

Every time you can not blockchain time with valuable moments, experiences and emotions, and save it in your lifetime investment account, also called heart, well you have probably been wasting time. Mind you, this is not about productivity, you can rest for a month, or do whatever and still be present and add to your account.

Divide et impera

Please understand that our global economy thrives on polarization, conflicts and the corrosion of communities.

There is a multibillion industry spreading daily conflicts, pontificating wars and dramas, fostering extremes, insecurity, individualism, loneliness, and undermining our sense of self-agency, to then sell back gurus, self-help, magic pills, drugs, alcohol, sugar, addictions, antidepressant, guns and the mind-numbing palliative care found in social media and unlimited entertainment.

First they terrorize you making you feel uncomfortable in your own skin and age, to then sell you the latest fad to make you die in slow-mo.

It is not an economy built for communities to grow happy, people are either instrumental or collateral damage for the few orchestrating the whole machine.

Age and decay is pretty democratic, do not hope for a lifetime of acceleration and personal bests, hope to learn compassion as early as you can, especially self- compassion. That alone will save you more often than your personal record in sprint running.

This generational division is sick, age is not an inclusion/exclusion switch.

The baby-boomers the x, the y, the z generations is just one of the many attempts to polarize society by focusing on external “circumstances” rather than the core values that unite humanity, such as the need to be heard, seen and loved, and the need to reciprocate and contribute to something bigger.

Ageing has never been a problem, how could it? Every day takes a little to give back a lot, and meanwhile you create a rich life for yourself and the people around you.

Older people are not sorry for their age, nor should you. If anything, they are sorry for seeing people wasting their lives, they are sorry for how some people seem to care more about building their courts of followers than they are building real connections and experiences.

If you are surrounded by people that look just like you, and like everything you do, you are not smart, you are afraid to grow.

It is much easier to impress and control a bunch of similar people than a diverse group coming from different walks of life. Our communities have made it till now based on intergenerational sharing, if you are surrounded by people that look just like you, and like everything you do, you are not smart, you are afraid to grow.

If you think you have “decided” to be surrounded only by peers while excluding other generations, think twice you might just be the latest puppet in the hands of a master puppeteer.

Ageism is a distorted lens, a broken mirror that reflects back our society into pieces, let’s not buy into this generational apartheid.

Life is short, life can be beautiful and rich if together we claim back our right to live our lives and times with dignity. Let’s not waste our energy in anything that does not elevate our humanness.

Dear us all, let’s celebrate and own our lives (including our age) like there is no tomorrow.

Ps: Regarding age shaming

Let me share a secret, nobody is getting younger any time soon, including you, shocking right? Ageism and age shaming is a boomerang that sooner or later will be after your own neck. If you are disturbed by how other people look, behave or age, 1st consider therapy, 2nd get a life, and 3rd it is their freaking business and right to do whatever they want. The world could totally do with less hate, including yours.

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We are a community of strong women who share our personal stories about how we’ve survived and thrived in our lives. We share our messages to heal and help others learn from our experiences

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Cristina Comunian

Cristina Comunian

Before the straightjacket feels comfortable again, I hit "publish".

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