When we refer to a person’s age we are generally talking about how many years they have been alive. On some level, this version of age is little more than a meaningless numerical tally. Until we make it meaningful. And it’s the meaning that we individually give this number (the psychology of age) that in many ways determines the impact it will have on our choices, behaviors, thinking, outcomes and, in a very literal sense, our day to day reality.
Even when I was in my teens and twenties, I was fascinated with the way people age. And not only in a physical sense but also from a psychological, emotional, social and behavioural perspective. By paying attention it became clear to me that on a multitude of levels many people are determined by their chronological age. Or more accurately, they are determined by their thinking (about their chronological age).
Here’s an extract from one of my favourite books (mine):
We have age-based rules about when we should retire. And work. Who we should date. Or not date. When we should study. When we should stop playing sport. What type of car we should drive. Or shouldn’t drive. What music we should listen to. What we should do with our money. When we should get married. How we should exercise. And dress. And socialise. In fact, we seem to have an ever-expanding range of rules about age-appropriate behaviour. Sadly, some people are age-appropriate all the way to misery, boredom, under-achievement and premature old age. How unnecessary.
Unfortunately, age has become much more than a number. More than a tally of accumulated years on the planet. It’s a statement. A label. An anchor. An expectation. A limitation. A barrier. A determinant. A dirty little secret. Something to be lied about. In fact, it’s the thing people lie about most.
Like most things on Planet You, your chronological age only has the meaning, power and influence that you allow it to have. Here’s another brief extract:
Imagine living in a world where there was no record of birthdays. A world where nobody knew how old anyone was. Ever. What would we all do? How would we act? How would we know what to wear? Or drive? Or listen to? How would we know what was appropriate? How would we evaluate people without knowing their age? Maybe the world would fall apart and mankind would perish?