Think about it. In America, age determines when we can vote, how much we pay for insurance, when we can drink alcoholic beverages, retire, or be a Senator. Age plays a role in who we select to date, our career choices, and how we believe we can perform physically. We also often consider age when setting goals and making major life decisions such as when we must get married or the age at which we would like to own a home.
When you stop to think about it, it’s a bit staggering how much the concept of age plays into how we identify ourselves, and how much stock we give to the number of candles on our cake.
Age is often a factor we use to classify or make judgments about others as well: “They’re too young to get married”, “She’s too old to have a baby”, “You’re too young to understand” or “By this age, you should know better.” Some of these judgments bring the factor of psychological maturity into play, but it should be noted that age and maturity are two very different concepts and not always correlated.
One caveat is that since the executive function of the brain does not fully develop until young adulthood, there is some merit to withholding things like driving privileges until one has the neurological biology in place to support sound reasoning skills and judgment.
However, once our frontal lobe is fully formed and we are well into adulthood, we tend to let age limit our choices, perhaps more than we realize. We may choose not to return to school or take an ice skating class because we feel the time for those activities has passed. Or we may let age dictate who we start a relationship with or judge ourselves regarding the accomplishments we should have achieved by this age in our lives.
Most, if not all, of this thinking is societally driven. I sometimes wonder what would happen if we all woke up tomorrow and the concept of age had magically been erased from our memories. Would you look at your options in life differently? Would you feel less inhibited about your choices and less pressure to conform to the expectations of your age group?
So much in our society is tied up in age that it’s pretty hard to even imagine life without this categorization. But perhaps, just for a moment, you can close your eyes and consider what you might do differently if you didn’t know your age. Feel the freedom?
Imagine what’s possible, then make it happen.