How old is young

Nandita Malhotra

How old would you be if you did not know how old you are? While some of us are wise enough to not define ourselves by age, most of us do. Not because we want to, but because we take it as a natural thing to do. The fact remains that age is just a number and it should have no effect on how much you can accomplish.

One brilliant idea can be a catalyst for the rest of your life. You are never too young or too old to start following your dreams. Growing up we hear “Oh, you can do that when you grow older” or “You are too young to understand”, or even “Maybe you will do it some day when you grow up”. Why wait for some day to follow your dreams? No matter what you age is, today is a great day to start living your life.

Just as age and time become woven into our society’s fabric, so, too, is the way society defines each of us in terms of this magic number. With age regarded as a crucial feature of one’s identity, we tag everyone with a certain age from newlyweds to traffic rule breakers, from students to the retired.

Yet, age is not a very good indication about a person. Think of the older-than-her-years 15-year-old who can easily pass off as a 22-year-old. How about the older adult who lives down the street from you and whose energy and enthusiasm would rival that of someone 40 years his/her junior. To add to this, birthday cards are the biggest example of defining by age. Turning 30 does not make you a different person than what you were a day before.

Even though most of us realise the arbitrariness of age, we still place a great deal of stock on it especially when we reach those infamous decade markers. Especially in India, we define every bit of our life by age. You are a certain age so get into college, then marriage has its own range of age between 22 to 26, the peak age as they call it and crossing 30 without being married is sure to get one the loser tag in the marriage market. And if by any chance you decide to be a student again in your 40s, not only will you get questioning glances in your class but the admission itself will be a huge task.

Your social interactions, friendships, relationships everything comes down to how old you are. So much so that even in a marriage too there is a defined acceptable age gap that must be there between the couple, 2 to 6 years, and in that, too, the boy should be preferably older. The only people who are allowed to not ‘mind the gap’ in age in marriage are celebrities. If you are any lesser and happen to marry someone 10 years younger than you then just be prepared to be judged.

As a society, its time to throw this overly narrow and imprecise measure of one’s identity. If you are willing to give up the grip that age has over your self-image, then you are truly ready to take the next step, of living your life to the fullest. The age you feel may very well be the most important factor determining your health, and happiness.

Today is the youngest that you have been or will ever be. Next time you wish someone on their birthday or want to ask their age, ask them how young (not old) they are. Define your life by your passions and not by your age. Do what gives you happiness not something that ‘should be’ giving you happiness because of your age. Let age best describe your whiskey, not you !!

(Author is a Banker)