By Annette Pinder
Do people ask you how old you are? I’ve noticed recently that women ask one another’s age more often than men do. Personally, I think asking someone their age crosses an insensitive and inappropriate boundary. Years ago, when I’d go to a fair and play that game where you win a prize if they guessed wrong, I thought it was great because I always won! But I feel differently now, and have come to believe that how old you are shouldn’t matter to anyone. I have friends that are 28 and friends that are 82. Some people I meet who are 35 have less energy than I do. I’m not judging. I am just grateful that I am engaged in quality work with people who energize me. I am also grateful for my health.
So why do people, especially women, feel the burning need to inquire as to how many decades I’ve spent on earth? Are they just being nosy? Is it envy? And what will they do with that information? Will they measure how good they look or feel against how I look or feel? Will they go off and tell others what they think is my big secret?
I assume that vanity is a motive for some people who don’t want to reveal their age. Or perhaps, like me, they think it is simply irrelevant and private information that people don’t care to discuss. Or, maybe they are aware of the fact that age discrimination is a real problem, and that some people respond differently to a person once aware of their age, either too young to be informed or too old to matter.
For me, age is a state of mind and not anything I consider when choosing with whom I interact. I also try to avoid letting stereotypes guide me. I’ve learned there are 12-year-olds who are very mature for their age, and quite seasoned adults who still can’t figure out what is important to them or why.
So, my advice to anyone who thinks they need to know another person’s age is to exercise sensitivity, graciousness, and respect, and to meet and engage with people based upon your mutual interests and enjoyment of one another’s company. And if you are the one being asked, perhaps it is best to find a way to simply answer that it doesn’t matter, and is not a topic you care to discuss.
If we should have learned anything during this pandemic, it’s that we are all more the same than different. It has been a year that has made some of us feel weary, and others depressed. Indeed, people have confided in me that they feel so much older because suddenly they are tired. More than ever, we are navigating life together at all ages, through the good times and the bad, doing the best we can.
And here’s a little secret. It’s really fun to spend time with people of all ages because it can broaden your perspective and make you a more enlightened person than you already are!