Age is but a Number

So the summer has truly turned my brain into a puddle of mush. Not the fairly solid, old-school grits kind of mush (yuck) but the overly watered down quaker oats oatmeal kind of mush.

And in accordance with said atrophe, my contributions on she-bomb have all but disappeared. You might have been asking yourself where all the funny has gone… there’s your answer. Anyways. This post is going to be short, concise, and to the point… at least, as short, concise, and to the point as I can possibly be. How am I doing so far?

Recently, I find myself consistently judged by my age. People use this statistic as a crutch to validate decisions, make judgments, and overall control the universe. According to Mirriam Webster, age is…:

Age: /aj/ Noun: The length of time that a person has lived or a thing has existed

As if determining the mere number of years, days, hours, minutes, and seconds I have been alive can tell anyone anything about me.

Which rest assured, I am not

While I have passed most of the major age markers or, at least four of the major five that I can think of — i.e. 16, the age of consent; 17, drivers license in NJ; 18, legally purchase porn; 19, legally purchase tobacco tobacco. Alas, the big 2-1 still evades me (I’m sure you all are very familiar with what happens at 21).

But that’s not the point. Who decides these random ages? Am I really expected to believe that the decision making portion of my brain is of more appropriate size at 21 than at 20 and 10 months? Because last time I checked your brain does not reach full mature judgment/decision making status until at least 25 (hence that stupid rental car age limit).

On the cusp of my 22nd year in existance, the subjectivity of these laws has really been bugging me. I understand the need for a base or else there’s no means of regulation and frankly, I cannot think of a better way… it’s not as though you’re going to give kids a maturity test every couple years and regulate them one by one. But really, on each person’s 21st birthday (or any birthday for that matter), everyone is a different 21. Am I to understand the woman who dropped out of high school to work and support herself has the same amount of life experience, maturity, and ability to self regulate as a woman who has done nothing but go to school (paid for by her parents), has never worked a day in her life, and will never have a loan/interest to worry about? And what about all the people in between? There is nothing wrong with either of these two scenarios, but there’s no arguing that they are simply different life style choices. Life experience and plain old genetics have a lot more to do with a person’s “age” than the years that they have been alive.

Age is but a number; a number our society uses to make a myriad of snap judgments about a person. By asking a person’s age, one is attempting to take a short cut in order to decide another being’s knowledge, experience, and competency. And perhaps trying to judge the legality of a roll in the hay. But does that seem right? You cannot judge a person based on a statistic. To assume all 17 year olds are mature enough to drive would be like assuming all women make great sandwiches… which I’m fairly certain everyone feels confident disregarding.

At least, you should be.

Adults can still act like children. And children still have moments of clarity that make me question their “immaturity”. Surely age can be a vague guideline for experience. But to rely on it so wholey in social situations is a grave mistake.

Or so my parents said.... when they trusted me with car keys at 17... and I totaled the car. Because I was changing a CD.

Sure, lots of 17 year olds are ready for that kind of responsibility. But lots aren’t. I understand the need to try and generalize and find a happy median, but c’mon. Age is not the way to do it.

A numbers ability to describe is limited. It just is. The government and the law has an excuse and a reason, but people in the everyday do not. People don’t even physically develop at the same rate. And emotional/intellectual development is even more difficult to pinpoint. There is no way I can be both “wise beyond my years” and “immature for my age”, yet I have heard both.

So… clearly the only reasonable solution is to abolish age. Everyone has their own developmental timeline and trying to standardize that is stupid. Not that I have really established a solution here, but perhaps its time we start focusing more on if a person is still in school, how well they articulate, and what their interests are rather than their age in determining their role in our lives.

That is all.