THE AGE FACTOR; & WHY WE DON’T GIVE FLYING F*CK ABOUT YOUR AGE.
Imagine meeting a stranger two years ago, and she has become a friend ever since. Or…
Let me ask you what. Have you ever sat down and thought about the fact that perhaps there is someone out there telling other people that it’s okay to not be your authentic age? There is someone out there age-shaming others, telling them that it’s not okay to have your breakthrough at an older age than everyone else. Who made those rules? Who wrote that law? In early 2017, I met a girl over a dinner invitation from another friend of ours who thought it was great if we had met, being in the same field. At the time, I was doing a bit of photo-modeling here and there, and the girl was in the makeup field. Over dinner, we started getting a little personal, and I asked her how old she was. And very confidently, she said; twenty-five.
Me: What? Damn, you are so blessed. Look at you; actually, I thought you are about two years younger than me. She laughed and further explained to me that people give her this kind of reaction when she tells them her age. I would say it’s a pleasure to look younger than your age because it usually means you are doing something right. Eating right, working out well, and maybe, just the perfect genes. You are in good shape and we appreciate that. Also, I met a couple of other people who I thought were teens, only to discover later they were in their late twenties and you know what? That’s okay too!
There is a stigma of looking older than your age, that’s quite common. Let’s say each time I met someone I thought was a teenager and or my age mate and they turned out about five years older, I couldn’t help but question myself. Is it this wig? Is it this hair, this weave? Why do I often look twenty seven when I am twenty three and stuff like that? And you know what? That’s okay too! Depending on how you feel about it or whatever perspective you want to choose. Let’s say I have made peace with the fact that each time I plait my hair, men of all ages are going to be stopping me, asking for courtship or whatever. That’s okay because you know what? At that point, I look like a woman, I am a woman, and what more shall I expect? Some men are always going to make their moves at the slightest opportunity.
Then , when I go around with my short un combed hair, I am likely to meet teenage boys making passes at me because they think I am about seventeen, and they believe that somehow this gives them a right to look at me funny while they are standing across me, at a stall where I am buying chapattis.
There are a lot of scenarios too; I am sure you have yours, just like I have mine.
Why did I write this article? Well, remember that girl I said I met over dinner and she told me she was twenty-five, in 2017? Well you can imagine the shock I had when I interviewed her for some magazine, this time officially, and she had forgotten our previous conversation, and she tells me she is twenty-four, just about to make twenty-five in a couple of weeks. Imagine how frustrating that is. That lack of authenticity. Two years later, Prossy (Not real name), has forgotten that she told me she was twenty-five in 2017. We are now in 2019 and she’s telling me she will make twenty-five in a couple of weeks.
Maybe I am not supposed to take that personal but well, I just did. And it’s the reason as to why this article came pouring out of me, two weeks inside my writers block!
I discussed this with someone and I realized that obviously, this lady has a lot of things to hide. She probably feels that she hasn’t grown that much and perhaps telling people that she is in her late twenties is going to cause alarm, but who said it has to be like that? We know you are like this and we don’t care as much as you think we do.
This is one way the world and media have exaggerated the age factor that it’s hard to find someone who is not insecure about what age they achieved what, and you know what? That’s not okay.
What’s okay is to be president at seventy while someone else became at forty. What’s okay is to finish school at twenty-seven while others graduated at twenty. That’s what’s okay.
Just because other interviewees, who are the same size as you, and are achieving things almost as great as yours, are twenty one doesn’t mean you should feel pressure to cut down your age, just because you’re scared of being the older achiever. Come on now, you are winning. Isn’t that big enough to cover your insecurity already?
Let’s say there is a lot of talk about the fourteen-year-old Marsai Martin, being Hollywood’s youngest producer, or about her film ‘Little’, and many other scenarios. We love that! Everyone will sing about how Zuckerberg launched Facebook at age 19 or about how who achieved what at whatever age…We love that too! But hey, have you forgotten that Warren Buffet became a billionaire at age fifty-six despite his formidable millionaire status prior to that? We love that too!
What would happen if we let everyone know that it’s okay to look really young when you are grown, or its okay to look older when you are just a teen? Or, it is okay to find your path longer than your colleagues.
In primary six, one of my friends Suzan (Not real name) just happened to be a little heavier than the rest of us. While we were skinny and tall, she was the kind they call chubby, plump, and also tall. Our science teacher was asking our age, on average, we were about age 11 to 12 but when Suzan told him she was eleven, he slid into a rage where he called her names, saying she was sixteen and she didn’t have to lie. That kind of reaction, from a teacher, could easily lower a child’s esteem and had it been me, I would have cried. Suzan however, kept telling him in her little voice,
‘No, Mr.Kay, you’re saying that because I am fat but that’s my age.” And so on and so forth. He continued laughing, disagreeing and mocking the girl. Looking back, I now know that he was a bully, ignorant, and unprofessional, who had no business treating a child in this manner just because of his personal qualms. To put this to a stop, he asked Suzan to return to school the following day, with her Birth Certificate and indeed she did. You could have seen the confusion in his eyes. That is what I like to call ignorance because yes, looking seventeen doesn’t mean I can’t be eleven and looking twenty-eight doesn’t mean I can’t be seventeen. Or even, Looking seventeen doesn’t mean I can’t be thirty-one. It’s as simple as that and everyone has to find a way of wrapping their fingers around that small concept.
I wrote this because I want you to be comfortable with your age. Whether you look younger or older, you are okay. You are probably scared because you think we are all going to judge you for either looking younger or older but you know what? At the end of it all, we don’t care. We just don’t really care about your age as much as you think we do. But you know what else? You should care. You should care when you give the media false information, you should care when you tell an age different from what you have on your birth certificate or passport. What we need is for you to be consistent, reliable and accountable.
Think about it; and think very carefully. You’ve got everything to lose when you lie about your age especially to the media. You are losing our trust, and your insecurity tells us you have a lot to hide. Now you don’t want us to dig deeper and have to find out what it is.
And when you don’t lie, remember that you have nothing to lose, nothing more than blubbery from lousy talkers who won’t add an inch to the length of your life any way.
I am so done here.