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Age and Assumptions

What is age and how does it effect us? It seems simple at first glance. Chronologically it is. Beyond this, it gets a bit murky. What does it mean to be a certain age? Can we assume? It is easy to judge others bases on our assumptions regarding their age.

I was in a hot tub the other day and a group of twentysomethings was talking. One of them issued a profanity and all heads turned towards me. “I’m sorry,” the culprit said. I shrugged but inside I felt hurt. Why? Because I felt they equated my age (55) with some sort of frailness or conservative mindset. I didn’t like others assuming who I was or how I saw things. Maybe they were being polite and would have said this to anyone. Perhaps in that instance they were. But in many that is not the case.

Most importantly, what assumptions do we carry and how does it impact our relationship, or lack thereof with others? I heard a person say, “those damn millennials!” What was in her mind? Perhaps frustration based on her judgements around that age group. Either way, we generally feel safest around those who we imagine are like us. The problem is that we truncate our range of exposure to the thoughts and attitudes of others.

How do we judge ourselves based on age? When we are young we often feel insecure regarding our competence and try to avoid looking foolish. When we are older we may feel comfortable being an authority, pushing others away. Perhaps the reverse is true physically. When younger we feel stronger and as we age, see ourselves as less adept. The question is, how do we feel about it?

It is hard getting older in a culture that worships youth and power. I overheard a woman who had just turned 60 saying she felt invisible to men. Perhaps it would be wise to explore our judgements about other people based on their age. It might be wiser still to see what we assume about our own.

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