Friday, 6 September 2013

Does Age Really Matter?

My colleague's daughter recently got engaged. She's 26. 

I used to work with another 26-year-old who'd kill to have a rock on her ring finger. In fact, she would run me over if I was the only obstacle between her and a Tiffany store where her boyfriend's waiting to get down on one knee to declare his undying love.

 The past couple of years, I've been working with twenty-something permanent-job hunters. Between dream job and internship applications and rejections, my department has been sort of an asylum where they moan, complain, throw tantrums, and hurl their insecurities at me.

They're 26.

I can't blame them when I look back at mine and other former 26-year-olds' timeline.

At 26, I already left a promising job (at least in my head at the time) to move on to greener pastures, not money-wise but rather in terms of career prospects. At 26, I also got engaged.

At 26, my mother already had a one-year-old, a full-time nursing career, and an ├╝ber responsible husband.

But let's talk about public personalities whose success and achievements are noteworthy whether by conventional or trailblazing standards.

Martha Stewart was a stockbroker for the firm of Monness, Williams, and Sidel, the original Oppenheimer & Co.
photo credit: Business Insider
Martha Stewart was working as a stockbroker in Wall Street at 25. Before that, she was a model booking clients from Unilever to Chanel.

Arianna Huffington was traveling to music festivals around the world for the BBC with her boyfriend at the time.
photo credit: Business Insider
Arianna Huffington published 'The Female Woman', an attack at the women's liberation movement, at 23.

Ralph Lauren was a sales assistant at Brooks Brothers.
photo credit: Business Insider
Ralph Lauren designed a wide European-style tie at 26, which led to an opportunity at Neiman Marcus. At 27, he launched the label Polo.

JK Rowling came up with the idea for the Harry Potter series on a train.
photo credit: wikimedia commons
The idea for Harry Potter was born to JK Rowling during a 4-hour delayed train ride. She was 25. The rest is history.

Billionaire businessman Roman Abramovich had already set up and liquidated at least 20 companies.
photo credit: wikipedia
I have a certain respect for dark horses, black sheep, and anyone whose path to success hasn't been straight down the line or even legal but managed to climb out of the underworld. Roman Abramovich was arrested for theft of government property at 26. Around the same time, he has successfully set up and liquidated at least 20 companies in sectors such as tire retreading and bodyguard recruitment.

What am I harping on about this age thing?

Aside from the engagement news which brought back memories of mine and the other girl's obsession with bethrothal because she feels and thinks she's not getting any younger at 26 (but the real reason I suppose is she's been attending friends' engagement parties and she's feeling left out), I was going through the clips I store for future references and found an article by Rebecca Holman for The Telegraph entitled 'Have The Traditional Stages for Women Disappeared Forever?'. You can read it here.
Stages of a woman's life from the cradle to the grave via
From left to right, stages 4 and 5: missed or skipped? Fell off the 4th step?

Her point is, times have changed that the specific expectations attached to certain age groups aren't as applicable as it was during our folks' time. The writer is 30, single, with a freelance writing career; her mother, at 30, was married, had a full-time career, two kids, and a mortgage.

I sometimes get the feeling that women back then could actually have it all compared to women now!

We have to admit that society is ageist and gerontophobic. I believe that it's worse in more traditional cultures. Let me give you an example. I struck up a conversation with a stranger in a bus stop. Let me rephrase that: she initiated a conversation with me. Within a minute, she has managed to probe into my marital and reproductive status. When I replied I didn't have children, she brazenly told me to start producing now because I was old. I told her I was 26. Can you imagine what she would have said if I told her I was actually 30? And what if I did have reproductive health problems? Shame that you can't buy tact. I could have given her one for Christmas. 

People associate age with achievement. If you're 40 and a millionaire, you're young. If you're 40 and single, what's wrong with you? If you're 26 and getting married, that's still fairly young. But if you're 26 and still an intern, you're old to be doing the coffee run for everyone, and you feel like signing up for a fast-tracked service to get engaged, get a mortgage, have at least one baby before you hit 30, and oh yes, I nearly missed this one: get your first proper permanent job.

It appears that the labels young or old are discretionary.

How has society come up with such guidelines on what or where you should be at a certain age? Does it make you less of a woman, or a person for that matter if you forgo one or two of these life events?

Erik Erikson's table of life stages is just one of the many theoretical dissections of human development. But as with anything theoretical, the application doesn't necessarily have to follow a chronological order. Exploration can happen at Middle Adulthood; reflection on life can happen in Young Adulthood.

As we are constantly evolving, perhaps adolescence can be adjusted to the early 20s instead of 12-18 years?

I think it's time to accommodate the overlapping of important life events as there's now a blurred line among age groups. Just go to Facebook and observe the parents and children socially interacting. Most of the time, you can't tell the difference. With TV series such as 'How Not To Get Old' and '10 Years Younger', the older generation is encouraged to look and feel younger. On the other end of the scale, the younger ones are expected to grow up. Age has never been this reversible, interchangeable and flexible. One day soon, the term generation gap first coined in th 1960s, will find its way to sociological history books.

I don't strictly subscribe anymore to society's expectation (or requirement) to act your age. I think it's liberating not to lead life by the numbers.

On a lighter note, I'd like to share some of my favourite quotes about age and getting wiser:

1. You can judge your age by the amount of pain you feel when you come in contact with a new idea -Pearl S Buck

2. You can't help getting older, but you don't have to get old -George Burns

3. I'm happy to report that my inner child is still ageless -James Broughton

4. I'm not interested in age. People who tell me their age are silly. You're as old as you feel -Henri Frederic Amiel

5. The age of a woman doesn't mean a thing. The best tunes are played on the oldest fiddles -Ralph Waldo Emerson

6. The golden age is before us, not behind us -Willliam Shakespeare

7. No woman should ever be accurate about her age. It looks so calculating -Oscar Wilde

8. What is an adult? A child blown up by age -Simone de Beauvoir

9.  Age imprints more wrinkles on the mind than on the face -Michel de Montaigne

10. You are 27 or 28 right? It is very tough to live at that age. When nothing is sure, I have sympathy with you -Haruki Murakami



  1. Ah the process of ageing and more importantly development! It is hard to be an adult now - with jobs harder to find ( I was made a manager at 25 but you are right, most Londoners at 25 are lucky to be an intern...) House prices make it out of reach to settle down. I think we zigzag - i tend to be super mature or totally adolescent. But time like Einstein said is truly relative - more than ever!!

    1. I stopped criticising people in their 20s for being immature. I'm sure I was either as bad or worse during my time. It's just a tougher world for them. Sometimes I don't get it when older people say to the younger generation (that includes us) that we have it easy. I disagree. But then again, if they're talking with the war in mind, then yes we have it easy compared to them. I also jump from being so mature to being silly. Sometimes I feel better when I'm silly--and that's when I feel younger than my biological age.
      Have a lovely weekend! x

  2. When I think back to what my mother was like at my age it makes me laugh to imagine her getting up to some of the stuff I do. Age is merely a revolving door we all go through (if we're lucky) but it shouldn't define a person to the extent that they are written off or discounted. But people will always be judgmental, so I say do your own thing and ignore them.

    1. Same here Sulky! Can't imagine my mother wearing the shortest jumpsuits and skater dress and getting drunk at my age. They were just more sensible then. Or inhibited. I think we all must have fun regardless of our age. It's one of the best ways to enjoy life--take it easy and don't rush but still do as much as you can!
      Enjoy your weekend x

  3. Great post and very relevant to my thinking.

    I never do it publicly, but I am guilt at looking at certain people's circumstances and thinking, you should have that already or done that already, but with that comes my own worst critic and judge, me. There are a lot of things I've wanted to do and achieve and haven't yet, and I do beat myself up about it. Even with blogging I think to myself, am I too old for this, especially the fashion pictures, I should have started this 10 years ago, but then there are no real rules anymore are there, thank goodness! Nobody guesses my age right anyway - I asked someone who thought I was 23 whether it was because of how I looked or how I act, he said both lol. I do act like a petulant child sometimes and I know I'm too old for doing that!! xx

    have a lovely weekend

    1. Thanks Colleen!
      I do it as well. You just can't help it. In fact, I do it to myself.
      There's no age limit to do a fashion blog. The important thing is you look great in the outfits you post :)
      It's a compliment that no one can guess your age. But I love the '23' comment. It's always great to feel young at heart. Like I told Naomi, I enjoy being silly sometimes.

      Have a lovely weekend x

  4. The title immediately grabbed my attention and I certainly agree with your point of view. The difference between age groups has defintitely changed and the generations generally have more in common nowadays. I'm hopeless at guessing people's ages but it doesn't really matter anyway as age is, as they say, just a number. I've seen people who are approaching seventy who have more of a zest for lfe than some twentysomethings! It's all about attitude. We shouldn't feel obliged to do things (or in fact not do something!)just because we reach a certain age! Great post and food for thought.

    1. Thanks for your comments miss b!
      Moving from the Philippines to the UK has vastly changed my point of view about getting older. We just have a better perspective here, or in western cultures in general. I'm 36 and I get told I'm young (and get mistaken a lot for 28) but back in my old home, I'm considered aging and they literally follow the 'middle age' theory of being mid-30s. I agree there are people in their 60s, 70s, even up to 90s who have more zest for life. I think it's because they've forgotten about their biological age, which is the kind of thing we have to take an easy approach as we will all luckily reach that stage, we won't be able to stop it, so just enjoy it!
      Have a lovely Sunday :)

  5. What a great read and point of view... I agree in so many ways and especially now as "ageless" is so important to the older generation through botox/surgery. My youngest daughter is 26!!! .. you are so right about this! Jenny

    1. Thanks Jenny! I think we'll get to that point one day when in application forms, there will be boxes to tick for 'age in numbers' and 'how-you-feel age'. Kinda like a real name and stage name :)
      I'm sure your 26-year-old must have shared sentiments about how difficult it can be for their generation to get on the career ladder. I guess every generation has their difficulties, but even economists, public officials and other experts are saying that our younger ones are having it much harder than before. Hope it gets easier.
      Have a lovely Sunday x

    2. She is quite a bit younger than her two siblings and they continually refer to her being GenY ... as if that explains something misterious!! :)

    3. Oh how younger ones are treated--they're labelled with all letters that come much later in the alphabet.
      My youngest sister's 27 and most of the time, she thinks we don't understand her. So we stopped giving her advice. We stopped starting with the line, "When I was your age..." coz it's just not the same as she says. And she's right :)

  6. Very thought provoking post. In some ways I think that our cultural pre-occupation with youth ignores the benefits of age ie, wisdom & experience. Although having said that I think that it's very good that we're no longer bound or not bound to do certain things just because of our age.

    1. Thanks so much!
      I love your point about wisdom and experience. It comes with age and that's a privilege.
      I do like it also that slowly, society's getting more lax about associating age with certain achievements.
      About time!
      Have a lovely Sunday x

  7. Great post and point of view darling, I love the quotes number 3 and 4!!!!
    And, it's true: It appears that the labels young or old are discretionary!!!!
    Kisses my dear!

    1. Thanks Paola!
      Love those quotes, too. That's why I picked them!
      Let's just say we're all youngest at heart!
      Kisses to you too xx

  8. Another thought-provoking post. I do think we tend to associate certain life milestones with our chronological years but life in modern times has certainly challenged all those conventions! For instance many women are putting off their birthing years to build successful careers -- perceived by many in the past to be highly risky and not exactly ideal.

    Oh, and I enjoyed the quotes you posted! :)

    1. Thanks Rhona!
      Or it's also a case of women wanting to be child-free. That's completely unacceptable back in the days, but nowadays there are women who are standing their ground.
      Or women who didn't have children due to circumstances other than child-bearing problems.
      I love the fact that our generation can challenge conventions and you're not perceived as a nuisance, but rather a formidable soul.
      Love your take :)
      Have a lovely week! x

  9. I agree with you Marj, most people tag their success with age BUT forgetting that inner fulfillment can come any stage and age of our life. mmm 26? I gave up a career to focus on my 2 daughters, another fruit of fulfillment for me at that time that is different from job, title, position etc. As for those who can't wait to get a stone on their finger to be in the "forever after path" ...mmm no need to hurry. I had mishap in the past on that road but finally it was never too late to move on at 38 years old, so you see... age does not really matter (to some) but may be to many yes. Have a beautiful day Marj! best regards, Angelica

    1. It's really interesting how varied our choices and paths are at different stages in our lives. That's why, as I wrote in a previous post about Rules, it's also not one-size-fits-all for human development and progress. We're all different, thus our approach to life will also differ.
      Having creative pursuits will help though in slowing down the ageing process, at least in my opinion.
      And as I mentioned in my fb post, mishaps makes us better persons, if we choose to.
      Thanks for your thoughts and for dropping by!
      Have a lovely week x

  10. Great post Marj, I agree with your point about age. I think we are all guilty of classifying things and people in our life by age, at one point in time, be it our career success,or the defining beauty and maturity.. I also believe that it's cultural. Times have changed and we as women surely have as well, there are more females in the workforce and the perspecitve on age has been modified greatly, especially for the woman and family-life and what's age suitable for certain events, milestones, etc., even regarding marriage!

    1. Thanks Madison! And thank you for summing it up: age classification is both biological and cultural. And sadly, it holds more true for women.
      The perspective is indeed getting modified, which is good for a healthier outlook about getting and growing old.
      Thanks for sharing your point of view!
      Have a lovely day xxx

  11. Tnx for your lovely words on my blog Marj, I really appreciated them!!!!
    Kisses my dear fashion friend!!!

    1. You're welcome Paola, and thank you so much also for always getting back to me. Very of sweet of you :)

      Marj xxx

  12. Great post. There's far too much emphasis on age in conjunction with specific events and achievements. Are these achievements really worth less if they come to us later in life? Besides, ask any 80-year-old and they will tell you that inside they still feel 26 - so that makes all the talk about "age-related-achievements" baseless ;-)

    1. Thanks for visiting and for your comment Carole!
      Well aside from illnesses that we eventually get as we biologically age, the feeling of getting old is really subjective which is unfortunately sometimes influences by others' opinion.
      But I agree with you, I'm sure there are lots of octogenarians who feel they're in their mid-20s :D
      Have a lovely weekend!


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