Is It Really Just A Number?
I just had a birthday. Before you think how young I am, let me invite you to wander with Wiley a bit. It never fails how people want to know your age, and the worst thing you can do is choose not to tell someone how old/young you are. Some people get really upset with you behind a refusal to reveal your age. I remember having a lengthy conversation with a woman where she revealed her age to me in the general flow of the conversation. Later, she asked me my age, and when I chose not to tell her, she got really, really upset with me. She told me it was unfair that she had told me her age and I wouldn’t tell her mine. I mentioned to her that I hadn’t asked her age, she offered it, and that I didn’t. I asked her if she offered me the pin number to her ATM card, would I have to give her mine just because she gave me hers. She said it wasn’t a big deal, so why was I making it one. She didn’t see how she was making it quite a big deal as well, arguably a much bigger deal than me, because I really could have cared less how old she was. I can’t begin to describe how upset she was, and trying to discuss it with her logically only infuriated her more.
I am not a game player (at least not anymore than anyone else in the general population) and wasn’t enjoying her anxiety, so I explained it to her. I told her that at 19 years of age I had dated two older women (at different times for those of you who would think lesser of me for lack of dating monogamy) who both were thoroughly enjoying their time with a younger man. Neither one of them had bothered to ask me my age in the early stages of the relationship though they both somewhat knew I was younger, so the relationships developed. Then one day the 24-year young woman (why do we normally refer to someone as 24 years old?) asked me my age, and I unthinkingly told her. Why did I do that? From that point on, she stereotyped me, relegating me to this type of action, this type of thought, reading into my accomplishments or lack thereof, etc. Later, the other woman, who was considerably older than me (let’s just leave it at that) decided she wanted to know my age. You would think I should have learned from the other relationship, but no, not me! Unflinchingly I told her, and once again, the entire relationship changed. Now, I am not silly or naïve enough to think the relationship with the much older woman was anything more than me being a boy-toy or eye candy for her, but still the change in our level of engagement was disturbing. So, at nineteen I made a decision that I would not contribute to anyone else’s preconceived notion of my worth by disclosing relatively irrelevant data like age that would help them prejudge me anymore than they would already be apt to do anyway. Of course I am speaking about adult interactions, because age discussions are important to dating if you are looking anywhere in the direction of someone just entering adulthood. I also realize that not disclosing my age over the years has contributed to another level of scrutiny, but hey, what can you say. I was damned if I did, and damned if I didn’t, so I decided to control how I would be damned.
I can’t be the only one who has ever been prejudged because of their age. But is it possible that I am the only one who thinks knowing someone’s age is overrated and that we should be judging people by their maturity, energy, actions, etc.? What are your thoughts?