When you’re young, they dismiss you because you don’t have enough experience.
What do you know? they say. You haven’t been through anything. You have to live to learn. To do to know.
You can’t just spring out of the womb wise. Fully formed like Athena was when she was born from Zeus’s head.
No, you have to earn your stripes. Learn, experiment, adjust. Over and over again.
When I’m old, they’ll take me seriously, you tell yourself. I will age into respect. Into being valued. Important.
When You’re Old, They Dismiss You by Saying That You’re Out of Touch
Except… When you’re old, they dismiss you by saying that you’re out of touch. Not with the times. Out of step.
You’re no longer relevant, they tell you.
You missed your shot. There’s no time anymore for you. Might as well retire. Fade into obscurity.
Make way for people with fresher ideas and that oh so important youthful energy.
Most of the time they won’t be as bold with these claims as they were when you were young. Age discrimination laws only go one way. Advanced age is protected.
But you’ll catch it in people’s behaviors. In whispers that they thought you couldn’t hear. Bits of evidence they didn’t mean to leave behind.
And you’ll also find it openly in places where it’s not illegal to discriminate. From the mouth of men who will admit that they only date younger women. Some will say they do this because of how younger women look. They’ll say that they’re prettier, their bodies firmer.
Others will say it’s because older women have more “emotional baggage,” which seems to be that they raise more objections. Put up more of a fight when they feel like they’re being mistreated. Set more boundaries. Have higher expectations.
There’s No Magic Age
There’s no magic age. No time when you’re going to be universally esteemed, accepted.
You’re never going to be everyone’s “just right.”
There’s no moment like that.
That’s why it’s imperative to accept that universal acceptance was always a pipe dream. That even the most rich, beautiful, famous celebrities have scores of vocal haters. People who will insist that they’re ugly, overrated.
And that part of what makes acceptance and esteem so powerful is that they’re not found everywhere.