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aging and don't tell your age

Image by Pop & Zebra on Unsplash.

“Should you tell your age?” is one of those time-wasting questions, right up there with, “Should I dye my hair to cover the gray?”

The answer is, “How do you feel?” and, “What are the consequences?”

So many articles proudly proclaim, “I used to be afraid to share my age. Now I tell everyone.”

Gloria Steinem famously said, “That’s what forty looks like.” I think she said the same thing every decade, as she went from forty to eighty, still looking great.

The reasons for proudly proclaiming your age go like this:

1 – You’re more authentic. You’re not covering up an essential part of your identity. Just as gay people want to attend events publicly with a same-sex partner, you should feel free to be accepted regardless of your age.

I don’t buy this argument. If you know someone is gay, you know that person will be attracted to romantic partners of the same gender.

If you know someone is 43 or 68 or 82, you don’t know anything except the number. They might be frail elders taking multiple medications daily. They might be running marathons, lifting weights, playing basketball, and/or working for a good income. They might be anything in between. They might be liberal or conservative. They might be deeply religious or relentlessly atheist.

2 – You teach others to see people your age in a new light.

Forget it. People won’t learn from your example.

More likely they see YOU in a new light.

“Wow…he’s 72 and still going strong.”
“She looks so young for forty-two!”
“Do you need a wheelchair?”
“You’re joining this exercise class? Will you be…um…OK? Maybe you should. take it easy.”

Or just, “Gulp. I had no idea.”

If I ruled the world, we’d never tell our age.

Some government programs are age-related. Social Security offers some compensation for age discrimination. Medicare should be universal. Governments tend to use age as proxies for maturity (e.g., drinking age) or vulnerability (e.g., statutory rape). That’s another story. Government operates by the numbers. The rest of the world doesn’t need to.

We might even be better off if we didn’t put our age on medical records, as I suggested here in this article. Adding your age can screw up a diagnosis.