Why You Shouldn't Let Age Get In The Way Of What You Want To Do In Life

by Jessica Barraco

Shakespeare once wrote, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Here I am, hundreds of years later, asking, what’s in an age?

It’s my observation that society is obsessed with age -- especially since technology has advanced, throwing traditional ageists for a loop. Mark Zuckerberg invented Facebook in college and Daniel Elk invented Spotify in his 20s. If people in our parents’ generation weren’t married by the time they were 25, they were basically societal outcasts.

Now you’re weird if you’re engaged or married by 25. You didn’t go to graduate school, or try online dating. You didn’t search the Earth long enough to actually find your soul mate. And if you did, you’re too young to know what a soul mate is anyway.

My whole life, I have contemplated: What’s in an age? I was excited to turn 26 so that people could stop saying to me, “You’re 25?! OMG, that’s so young!” As if I left daycare yesterday and just took a recess and fell off the monkey bars. I graduated college nearly five years ago; I am not that young anymore.

People have said things to me, like “you’re an old soul,” “you are wise beyond your years” and “you have to date older – no one will be able to keep up with you your own age.”

My mother passed away when I was 12 years old and I had to figure out a lot for myself. Then I wrote a book at 23 and people thought I was insane -- like, actually crazy. Who writes a book just because? My answer was always, “Um, all authors for centuries before us?”

I moved across the country to follow a dream that a lot of people don’t think I rightfully deserve yet because I am “too young.” What the hell is too young? Why is that even a thing? Just like any kind of discrimination, ageism is a real thing. I shouldn’t be held back or judged differently because of the year I was born.

Too young, too old -- What happened to people being young at heart?

Now that I’m 26, I am more fed up with the issue of age than ever because I know what I want. It’s not just about who I can date anymore (which by the way, I do find that dating older helps my wise old soul to be understood), it’s about how much money I can make at jobs, what kind of apartment I can afford, and what kind of dreams and desires I want.

I thought, as a society, we all chose to get over judging people by their age. What happened to it being a good thing that I’m young and agile and have more energy? Why shouldn’t I get paid the big bucks for my eyes being a little wider every day?

Why does experience have to be based on how many years we’ve been on Earth? Shouldn’t it be based on productivity? With the world constantly changing, it’s almost better to not be stuck in old ways when it comes to love and work. Be flexible: Isn’t that the key to happiness? Or do I not know enough because I’m only 26?

People are people.

An age is just an age. Experience is the thing to watch for. Also be on the lookout for eye contact, confidence, warmness, creativity and strategy.

So even if you’re like me, one of those people bitten by the ageist bug, don’t let it get to you. Write a screenplay, get married, have a kid, travel the world, chill in a candy store, do a dance. Do anything but listen to your great aunt, your boss, or your inner critic. Sure, we have things to learn, but our elders also have things to learn from us. Don't forget it.