For the last few years, on my birthday, I’ve been deciding how old I was going to turn that year. It had no relation to my actual age, but was more of a reflection of a.) how I felt and b.) what I thought I could get away with. I even made a joke about it. The cake would read “29…Again!” It was fun for a while, and I made no secret of what I was doing. Everyone was in on it. It wasn’t so much that I was denying my actual age, but more that I was making a statement about the arbitrary nature of age itself.
On my last birthday (in November), I decided to take it one step further and declared myself “ageless”. And that’s where I stand today. It’s not because I’m ashamed of my age (I’m not), but rather that I realized that age, in our society, has become one of the main factors by which we judge each other and ourselves. And I’m taking myself out of that game.
When someone asks you how old you are, they use the answer you give them to try and squeeze you into one or several boxes – predetermined categories that help them define how you and they stack up against each other and the world in general. Never mind that there are an infinite number of other variables involved. Never mind that we have no way of knowing what’s really going on with each person, and that we can’t really ever compare ourselves to one another with any semblance of accuracy. Boiling it all down to age is so simple and easy. It gives us such a convenient way to judge others and more importantly, ourselves.
Your Career: If you’ve accomplished more than we expect you to at your age, we’re all impressed with you. “He’s a director at 28.” Someone who is not a director at 35 may now well feel badly about himself in your presence. But he’ll feel great around the guy who’s 50, and hasn’t made the cut yet. The young director is more impressive – he’s seen as more successful – than the older non-director. Is either of them happy? Who cares? Conversely, an older sales person may well intimidate a younger one, before any words are ever spoken. That younger salesguy sees the gray hair and immediately judges his opponent to be more worthy than himself (and therefore, judges himself to be less worthy). Is the older guy a better salesman? Who knows? Experience, which the older guy may or may not have – there’s no way of telling just from his age, doesn’t equal talent and ability. It can, but it doesn’t have to.
Your Looks: Women, in particular, are guilty of this one, but men are catching up. When a woman asks another woman how old she is, it’s almost always in no small part to determine how her looks stack up against her age. If one woman is older, but looks fabulous, the younger woman may take it as a hopeful sign that she, too, could keep her looks as time “ravages” her body (heavy sarcastic note). If, however, the older woman looks better than the younger woman, the younger woman will feel horrible about herself. She’s somehow failed in the looks department. An older woman may look at a younger woman with jealousy, judging herself to be less beautiful because she’s older, or satisfaction, if she herself looked better at that age. We tie age to all kinds of other self-esteem crushing thoughts: If an “older” person is still fit and trim, we respect them. They have a great body for their age. We have an expectation that older people get wrinkly, rounder, slower, and get less flattering wardrobes and haircuts. When someone defies those expectations positively, we will use that to make ourselves feel better or worse, depending on our own issues.
Your Love Life: “He’s too young for me.” Or “She’s too old for me to date.” We select our partners based on many criteria, but almost everyone has some kind of an age restriction. But what exactly is that restriction based on? I used to have a rule: I wouldn’t date anyone younger than me. Then, I switched to “If he’s young enough to be my son or old enough to be my father, he’s out.” But I realized that these, too, were arbitrary limits. If I meet a young man, and I feel like I’m talking to a child, it’s not necessarily because of his age. He’s immature. He might not be physically attractive to me because his features are more boyish than I like them. But I can tell you that without ever asking him his age. Let’s say you meet a man (or woman, whatever your preference is), and you found yourself really attracted to him. You two really hit it off. And then you find out he’s older than you’d like. Would you really stop being attracted to him simply because of that number? If the number of wrinkles he had didn’t turn you off before, why would that suddenly change?
And yes, I do understand that if you want children, etc., age can seem like an important factor. But again, that’s something you can discuss with your potential partner. There are many other variables that play into that and people are having babies later in life than ever. The point is, you’re either attracted to someone or you’re not. You might not be attracted to really wrinkly men or boys who haven’t grown into their manliness yet, to fuddy-duddies who never want to leave the house or someone who wants to spend all their time skate boarding. But guess what? There are fuddy-duddies who are 20 years old, and world explorers at age 90. It’s the traits that are important, not the age.
Your Behavior: People judge us to be either mature or immature, based on our behavior as measured against our age. The biggest problem with this is that there’s a societal expectation for people to get more serious (i.e. mature) with age. So the older you get, the less childlike qualities you should be expressing. Unfortunately, this leads people, who don’t want to be labeled immature in their jobs or social circles, to mute their joy, to become jaded (often called “realistic”), to shut down their ability to daydream and play. I was once told in a job evaluation that I was “too enthusiastic” and it would be helpful on my path to senior management to reign that in. But when we shut down those childlike qualities, when we become serious and stop being delighted by life, when we stop laughing easily and stop seeing everything as a beautiful game, we deny who we really are.
We have countless boxes to squeeze people into; age is just one of the criteria we use to judge ourselves. It comes down to our expectations of where people should be at a certain age, what they should look like, and how they should behave. And once someone tells you their age, those expectations are in place. You see them through that lens, limiting your ability to see them for who they really are. And worse, it limits your ability to see yourself for who you really are.
So, I’ve declared myself ageless. I’m not ashamed of my age. It just doesn’t matter to me anymore, and I refuse to let it matter to anyone else. You’re just going to have to find some other way to judge me, world. 🙂
Have you had any experiences where you were judged by your age (or judged yourself based on someone else’s age)? Tell us about it in the comments!
I to attempt to keep my age private and am often surprised at how many people will not respect the fact that I do not want to reveal my age. men ask me how old I am, friends, and even close friends and when I don’t want answer the question people become angry and more insistent in wanting an answer. They don’t want to respect the boundary that I’m setting. I usually reply old enough to see pg13 movies. Lol. I suppose the reason I’m most sensitive is feeling/belief I missed out on motherhood and don’t want to get into that whole painful conversation and hear the oh my you look great “for your age”. I thought you were years younger. Somehow the sentence hurts. I had one date go terribly bad with why don’t you want to tell me. I just didn’t. And I don’t report my age to even my closest friends. I suppose many ppl don’t understand it. I have never felt good after revealing it. I don’t believe I’m old, I believe society believes women of a certain age are old. I also don’t like when females ask you havent started menopause yet, have you? Like in what world would I want to have that discussion?
that’s a wonderful article. i needed to read that. just met a younger man and we are crazy about eachother but he is pressed to learn my age. i don’t look my real age, but i don’t want to be pressed and constantly nagged about having to fess up. i don’t want to be judged, i just want him to know me for me.
Thank you for sharing your amazing ideas, my fellow beautiful immortal!!!
I grew up in India hearing all these lovely stories about immortal Gods and Goddesses & hence in a way have been exposed to this concept from childhood onwards;but, there is a catch–the adults around me told me that immortality is a trait of the Gods not humans, especially not meant for women…hahahah….It took me some time to learn that these Gods and Goddesses are merely humans who declared themselves to be ‘ageless’ eons ago & pursued their hearts’ desires with childlike abandon and have since then moved on to explore higher states of existence in countless universes out there!
So, it would be a great system wherein once a person reaches adulthood (when he or she is physically grown & mentally ready to embrace that state as well), then that person should be able choose his/her age!!! I am sure we won’t have so many age related diseases in our societies then. Doctors won’t approve of this radical idea, I guess!
Once again thank you for your post & for all others who written wonderful comments on this post!
I love, love, LOVE this “ageless” post!! Age is an attitude – woo hoo!
Happy Happy 2013 to you!!
It sure is! Happy 2013. And many mooooooore. 🙂
Hi, I really enjoyed reading your article. I am in my late 30’s and loving life. I feel young and have been told by many people that I look young too. I have a step mom ..that dwells on age. She will try to imbarass me in front of people ..by saying I’m getting old..then ask me my age. I get so sick of it. She never does it to any body else but me. I always reply I’m in my late 30’s and she’ll reply with. Well ur gonna be 40 soon. I wish she would quite it. but I know …that ain’t ever gonna happen. What I don’t understand ..why.. is she so hung up on my age.
Yes, Melody, you are most definitely ageless!!!! You write about all the topics I am thinking about nowadays.
When one is secure with him/herself, happy and content and looking forward to stuff, one does not even bother with numbers. As a matter of fact, I used to be accosted with this very question all the time before deliberately practicing LOA, and since then, I have such people steer clear of me! Cool, huh? Life is an adventure, and to lose enthusiasm and not dream is to be dead in LOA terms.
That’s awesome Kat. I’ve had the same experience. I rarely get asked how old I am now and I rarely think about it. When you realize how your own insecurities shape your experiences (sometimes immediately!), it becomes easier to shape them in a positive way. Yay!
You can’t stop dreaming, but you can stop thinking that your dreams are possible, which is a really painful place to be…
I think this is why people get so upset on their birthdays and Christmas. What have I achieved this year?
I’m in my twenties but haven’t “achieved” much in comparison with other people my age. I’m also mentally older than them as well due to depression making me feel old!
I wish I could get to the point where I was happy about my birthday but so far it just feels like another year wasted in this bad space. I wish I could rewind my age and be back to 19-20 again that way I could buy some time and look a little more competant for my age. I’d still be behind career wise but at least not so bad.
The years go so fast for me. Time goes too fast. I need a pasue button while I get my stuff together!
Hey Awesome Melody,
First male comments on this post 😉
There are few incidences in my life where this happened with me. People judged me by my fun behavior, my emotional behavior, my mature behavior then, I realized if I keep changing what others want to see in me I will be completely different (no me personality). Finally, I dropped all the masks & started once for all behaving what I think is right. Now I am becoming popular 😉
But, experience changes person. We change, the more we see rains every year 🙂
Exceptionally well written.
Huge Hugs & Love,
It’s interesting how our society has come to see fun and enthusiastic as “immature”. I bumped up against this is business myself, many times, even though at times I actually acted and felt much older than I was. My true nature would always come shining through. The key is to let it, but in a way that feels truly good. Then, others will respond positively. It’s great that you’ve found the balance!
My insecurities are boundless. Its so funny that I just read this post here. two days ago I was in a cycling class and a woman made a point of calling out to the teacher that she should ask this other woman her age because you wouldn’t believe it to see how good she looks. And she was beautiful and I was envious. This is such an issue for me because I am quite obsessed with age. It bothers me tremendously. I tell myself I won’t dye my hair or use creams when the time comes, but I’ve made other resolutions that have fallen by the wayside. I just hope that I can get to the same place as you, Melody.
Welcome to Deliberate Receiving! Great timing. I’m posting a video about envy and jealousy tomorrow. 🙂
Why not use creams? I’ve been using great moisturizers since I was in my twenties and I don’t intend to stop. I take care of myself and yes, I do use anti aging stuff when it’s applicable. I enjoy looking good and having nice skin and I do believe that such good care has an anti-aging effect. But you won’t see me freaking out over a wrinkle. The point is, if you want to use creams, use creams. Die your hair. Date a young man. Do whatever you want, just not because you’re trying to “fight” your age, but because that’s what you want to do.
It comes down the relationship you have to age. Can you look at a beautiful older woman (60’s, 70’s) and still consider her beautiful? Or do you need her to be 20? Can you imagine yourself as a gorgeous, feisty older lady? Do these kinds of visualizations. Don’t try to make peace with being an ugly old bag. (WHY??) Make peace with being awesome. Now AND then. 🙂
I totally agree with everything you have said. Marissa made a very good point about people trying to guess our age and analyze it as being insecure about age themselves. In fact, now I recall that one person who really tried very hard to upset me when I wouldnt tell him my age was someone who looked much older than he is (I look younger than I am) and who was obsessed with using creams to slow his own aging process, and always talking about how he looked older than he was, despite the fact that he was quite good looking in any case. So now I see what he was up to; it seems he was too obsessed with and worried about his own appearance and felt bad that I myself was not.
I have always aged more slowly and I’ve always put it down to the fact that I havent cared about my age, have continued to behave and look at life in the way I have chosen to regardless of the number of years, and generally forget my actual age and need a few minutes to recall it if I suddenly need to write it on some official form. I get the feeling that when I meet people who try to analyze my age when they know I never discuss it, such people are in fact resentful of the fact that I am in fact ageless and they are not. You are right that they are also very disrespectful. Like you, I dont have a personal problem with my age, I like my age only in that it means Ive had some life experience, but I dont tell it since I dont wish to be put into a category into which I voluntarily do not fit.
Im glad to read these comments by others who have the same attitude!
Thanks so much for commenting here. It’s always nice to meet another ageless beauty. 🙂 Once you understand why people are obsessed with their own age, i.e., that it’s simply their own insecurity, it becomes much easier to not get upset by their questions or behavior. The more insecure they are, the more rude or volatile their questions will become. There’s no point in getting upset by their insecurities. Why? It would only hurt us and teach them nothing. What’s most important is that we stay in our own happy place, no matter what.
Huge hugs to you!!
Hi, I really relate to this and I googled this subject on purpose. I am tired of people talking about age and asking or trying to guess my age. I think that these people are insecure or just empty minded. They seem really shallow. Instead of trying to get to know me, the first thing that they want to know is my age. What does age have to do with me? Nothing. Everyone is different. They also guess that you are older than you actually look, hoping to try to put your down or they try to compare you with a twenty year old who has even more perfect skin. They are so shallow. I tell these people, that I don’t want to talk about looks or age at all to them. Ever. If a person can’t hold a conversation beyond just asking people personal questions on whether they hit menapause and they haven’t even become your real friend, it is annoying. Some people really don’t understand what friendship is about. It is not about talking about personal things first but hitting the surface first. I think that age is a personal thing that really only people who are close to me could know. I am tired of this world that feels we must tell all or we may be seen a hiding something. I think that the subject of age is a rude question.
Welcome to Deliberate Receiving!
I’m glad that you found this post helpful. You’re so right. Age has nothing to do with who you are or where you are in your life. Most people have just never thought about this. I’ve had a lot of conversations about this subject and it’s so interesting to see people’s reactions when I ask them (gently and kindly) why they want to know my age. I’m not confrontational about it, I’m just pointing out that we ask this question so automatically without realizing that we’re using it to judge others and ourselves. I’ve converted a lot of people to ageless status. The other day, someone asked me my age (they had a valid reason, they had to know for a form) and I swear to God it took me several seconds to remember. It’s become so irrelevant LOL. Also, I recently had a birthday, and the only two people who mentioned my age (as in, what’s it feel like to be XX?) were the two people who have the biggest problem with their own age. Their behavior simply reflected their own insecurity.
Overall, I wouldn’t be too hard on people – they aren’t usually aware of what they’re doing. You can teach my example, by simply not giving a rip (and I just have to point out that if you get angry when people ask you, you’re still giving a bit of a rip…) Usually, if you explain why you’ve become ageless, most people will react with “Huh. I’ve never thought of it this way.” 🙂
Huge hugs to you!
What an interesting post, Melody. You’ve got me thinking…
I’ve always been open about my age, not announcing it unnecessarily, but always answering when asked. It started as a rebellion against the restriction that “a woman never tells her age,” as if there was something wrong with getting older. I stopped wearing makeup for much the same reason (and from one too many allergic reactions). You’ve got me questioning whether I have other unexplored motivations for these choices… Something to meditate on.
Thank you! And a big hug,
Hi Mary Carol,
Do whatever works for you. I can’t deny that my stance of not telling people my age also has a certain amount of protest in it: I protest the idea of being pigeon holed or judged by arbitrary criteria. I don’t really care if people know how old I am, but I do still care if they use things like age, gender, weight, education, etc. to judge me or others. I take a stand against that (and that’s a kind of protest, so clearly, I’m pushing against the idea of being judged.) But while I clean up that little bit of resistance, I also enjoy making people aware of their motives for asking in the first place. If they can’t hear me though, if they don’t get the point I’m trying to make, I generally just tell them my age and let them get on with it. It’s definitely led to some very interesting conversations, though.
Maybe when I’m older, I’ll challenge people’s perceptions another way. Maybe I’ll proudly declare that I’m 70 while jumping out of a plane or learning to Tango (not waiting until I’m 70 for that, but just saying…) This is my way now. Follow your own path and whatever makes you feel good. 🙂
This is interesting article.
I’m woman and I also don’t like telling my age because I’m afraid comments such as: she’s so old when I go out with my boyfriend
If those comments bother you, then you may well have some insecurities about being too old for your boyfriend yourself. If other people’s comments weren’t triggering something inside you, they wouldn’t bother you. But what does age matter as long as you’re both attracted to each other? It’s just another excuse we use to make ourselves feel unworthy – we do not lose our worth as we get older. We can’t lose our worth. But if we believe that we do, it makes us feel horrible. So, let’s stop looking at ourselves in ways that make us feel horrible. 🙂
Thanks Kim! The real danger comes when we let other’s reaction to our age determine how we feel about ourselves. If they tell us we look young for our age, we feel good. And if someone judges us to be older than we are, we run to the cosmetics counter, desperate to find the newest wrinkle-be-gone cream. When we make age a non-issue, we take away one more thing we can use as an excuse to feel bad.
You just gave me a thought… I will adopt this principle and apply it to becoming “WEIGHTLESS”. I spend waaaaaay too much time stressing over the same 15 f#$#$kin’ pounds for 10 years; it drives me insane some days. And I allow that stupid little number on the scale to kidnap my days. And really, others can’t honestly tell if I’m up or down a few pounds. And even if they could…at the end of the day who gives a #($&#!
I love to exercise, I love good food…if I just focus on the positive, intuitively, I know that I will be happy with the results. But stressing over the process just keeps me bingeing on a weekly basis. As I mentioned in my other reply, I am now starting to sense freedom and allow my selft to eat what I want…no rules necessary. And the release of the pressure will allow me to naturally gravitate to good food with good vibes because that’s what I will attract. Honestly, I love the shape of my body but I negate that by focusing on specific areas that I think should look like someone’s elses thighs, butt, hips, etc.
Life is good! Have a beautiful day!
You’ve got it! You go girl!!!
I knew there was another reason why I’m so drawn to your work. I too share a November birthday (21st). Your articles are simply amazing. You write about the things that I think about but don’t share. I am guility of inquiring about people’s ages to see what they “should or should not” be doing, how well they are aging, how I measure up to them or not etc etc etc I am often told that I look youthful for my age…I wear that as a badge of honor (up until now)… and I’m sure I hurt people in my midst by proclaiming my age to others (even when they don’t ask.. lol). Thanks for the self reflection on that!
I will be more aware.
Thanks for the great insight!
I found very interesting this article, and even more because today is my birthday! thanks for share all this information with us!
Thanks Luisa! Happy ageless Birthday! 🙂