A BRIEF EXERCISE
Have you tried asking children how old they are? After that brief moment when they make sure they have it right, children will look you straight in the eye, pronounce the number, and sometimes will accompany that number with their fingers. Then go ahead and ask someone above the age of 30 the same question. You'll be lucky if you get an answer right away. Most people, above the age of 30, will look you in the eye for a while before letting a couple of numbers leave their lips. During that moment, instead of recalling the age to make sure it's right, that person is thinking whether to give you the real age or not. Silly is not the right word to describe it. It's stupid. Why the need to hesitate or even lie about your age? Since when did age become something to be ashamed of?
A question I asked myself often around the time I began pursuing my writing career was "Do you really want to pursue this?" It might seem to be a trivial question but its importance could not be undermined. I was already 29 years old by then, an age where most of my peers had already gotten their affairs in order: career, family, marriage, houses, or cars. Yet there I was, starting a new career and I was almost 30. For some, that was a stupid decision. But why?
We can blame ageism for that. There's an unwritten rule in society that when you reach a certain age, your life will become limited so you must have all your affairs done and ready before that. It's one of the reasons some people are afraid of venturing into a new career, ageism comes into play. This is further related to why some people are not proud of their age. Telling their real age to other people brings to surface the fact that some of them don't have their affairs yet when they should be. To avoid the phantom pain that brings, they deny their real age with secret shame and the thought of those incomplete affairs goes away with it. There are a few more reasons why people are ashamed of their age which we'll leave for another discussion some other day.
When I hit 30, I asked myself the question "Are you proud of your age?" With feet standing firm on the ground I said:
"Yes! Even if I have just begun a writing career, commute to work everyday instead of driving my own car, and am still paying debt accumulated by my misspending in the past couple of years, I am a proud 30-year old."
It's not about being proud of our irresponsibilities and failures in the past and wearing them like a gold medal around our necks. Rather, it's about being proud of one of the truths of who we are, our age, and not treating it like a doormat to wipe our shoes with. Being proud of our age is an intricate part of our confidence. How can we put ourselves out there in the world and face it confidently if we're in denial of the truth of our age? If we are never ashamed of our age, nobody can use it against us.
Two entities will greatly benefit when you choose to be proud of your age: yourself and society.
Your age is a truth and like all truths in life, you must get comfortable with it. Being proud of your age builds your confidence because it entails accepting something that you are, something you have no control of, and something you have no choice but to live with. When you're confident with it, age-related barriers society spews everyday will no longer scare you and hinder you from doing things you want and achieving the things you deserve to achieve. By being proud of your age, you also benefit...
There are two ways in which you benefit society when you're proud of your age. First, you inspire and influence other people who are not proud of their age to be proud of their age. Second, you make a statement against ageism.
Action will always trump over words. If you tell people you're proud of your age, it's not enough. But if you act and behave with pride in your age, you inspire and influence other people to act and behave the same. You do not have to flaunt your age to other people. What you must do is to stop being ashamed of it and own it.
Ageism is a killer of dreams and a happy life. It kills people long before their physical body is dead. It dampens enthusiasm and an adventurous spirit. It's time we put a stop to it. When you are proud of your age, never ashamed of it, you are already making a statement against ageism. Through your actions and behaviour, you raise a middle finger to ageism's face saying, "No. I'm not going to be your victim. There's nothing to be ashamed of how old I am."
So what if you're already 30? You're still breathing! So what if you're already 45? You still have a lot of fight in you! So what if you're already 52? You're still a human being! So what if you're already 70? You're still alive! Don't let your own age be used against you by society's ill-meaning members.
You may think that you are just one person against the big shadow of ageism. So what? All victories must start somewhere. Think of it this way. Let that victory begin with you. By being the "first" to be proud of your age, you will inspire and influence other people who in turn will inspire and influence other people too, creating a ripple effect. Whether that will be a short or a long battle, we'll never know. What's important is that we're taking actions against it. You should be proud of your age, not just for your sake but your children too and for the rest of the world.
Now I ask you. Are you proud of your age?
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