Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Age is Relative

For some reason, I have always been sensitive about my age, but not for the reason you may expect: I've always been upset that I'm so young.

As a teenager, I was upset at being a teenager. You can't pick your age, you know, and it wasn't my fault I was at an age that happened to end in the suffix -teen. I never did classify myself as a teenager either, even though I did do some stupid teenager things and even though I did sometimes make disparaging remarks about teenagers.

I like to consider that we are all part of the human race, and since we don't get to pick how old we are, what does it matter? We can choose to act however old we want. I'm watching a 10-year-old this week, and after just one morning with her she commented that I seemed more like her sister than her mom. That's because I don't stick to all the stupid rules that so many adults follow: I vowed as a child to never be that stuffy adult who looks down her nose at children.

That said, I don't actually believe in "old" either. You are only as old as you make yourself. If you want to be old at 21, you can be old. If you want to be old at 55, you can be old. For me, I think old may start somewhere around 87. And even then I'm not sure--ask me in 61 years.

My cousin and I once started making a list to determine our real "age" as defined by our habits and tastes. We were each trying to prove to the other that we were older (I'm older). I can't remember what we said exactly, but here are some possible examples:

If you...

1. Go to bed before 10 pm on a regular basis: add 10 years to your age
2. Take a vitamin: +5 years
3. Have a savings account that you add to regularly: +3
4. Own or rent a house/apartment/condo by yourself: +5
5. Have kids: +5
6. Eat a balanced diet: +5
7. Read the newspaper: +2
8. Do the crossword: +1
9. Knit, crochet, quilt, sew, embroider, etc.: +3 years
10. Don't watch tv: +5 years

You could add a bunch more, of course.

By these calculations, I am not 26 years old, but 35. Okay, maybe that's a bad example because 35 is not that old. How my cousin and I had it I got a much better score, like 45 or something. But you get the idea.

In conclusion: I cannot help that I am 26. You cannot help how old you are either. In the grand scheme of things we may all be the same age anyway, and 10 or 20 earth years is not such a big difference.

The end.


Rebecca said...

So I'm supposed to add those number to my current age? I disagree because that makes me over 50. I think age really is how old you feel...I'm not sure where those numbers actually come in...

When I was a teenager, I liked to embroider. I don't anymore. What does that mean about my age?

And I like your final conclusion...it really doesn't matter "in the scheme of things".

Olive Kite said...

By your chart, I am pretty close to my actual age. It seems like those things should actually have negative numbers assigned to them, making you younger rather than older. (Take vitamins, make your body five years healthier! Save money, ease your stress and become 3 years more youthful.)

But the fact remains that you have to be a certain age to get on a ride at DisneyLand, a certain age to have a driver's license, and within a certain age range to have children. It's just how our society and these physical bodies work. On the other hand, inside, we could be a different age than we are physically. (And even then, an unhealthy lifestyle or just poor genetics can age someone physically beyond their years. And, of course, physical age can impact internal age (call it mental, spiritual, or whatever you like)).

But, Betty, be whatever age you like. Life--if you really scrutinize it--is arbitrary, after all. (And so so complicated.)

Thanks for the entry. I never felt apart of my age group, either. In a way, this scares me, because when I hit 70, there aren't really going to be many 90-year-olds with which to associate.

Olive Kite said...

A better word than arbitrary would be relative (which happens to appear in the title of your blog entry).

Olive Kite said...

What if you changed your post to: Age is your relative?

unicorn girl said...

So I feel old!
I prefer to think about age as turning over more miles. Wow, I got to 16, or 21, or 35 or 58. Whatever we get to we should congratulate ourselves because we made it to that nice old age! It is better than the alternative!

Olive Kite said...

I give in, Betty. You are at least 105 years old.

ruth said...

I would like to add: sewing/or patching your clothes +11
Dying your hair: -7
painting your toes: -3
eating oatmeal: +5
canning fruit: +20

ol' Bob said...

Canning fruit while living in Utah: +5.
Canning fruit anywhere else: +20.

Betty Edit said...

Olive, age is YOUR relative. Not mine. :o)

Ooh, canning fruit! That's a good one.

I have always loved oatmeal and cream of wheat and Malt-o-meal and cracked wheat and mashed potatoes and such. I like mush.

Olive Kite said...

Eating mush: -10 years

elegyrl said...

You are much younger than me by all standards than! I love to cook and sew and all that other stuff too... does cross stitch and sewing each add points individually or just once? I guess no matter how we figure it Iwill always be "old betty" :)

J said...

By this I am 23. I like this idea...I need to add some to it though. I am sure by worldy standards the fact that we don't binge drink or sleep around makes us seem a lot older!