Why I Lie About My Age

I was talking with my sister last night and we found that we have something new in common. Whenever anyone asks us our age, we either lie or refuse to answer. And we share the same reasons for our deceptions.

Most people think I hide my age because I am ashamed of it. Far from the truth!  I actually never think about it – that is until someone else brings it up.

Is it hard seeing physical changes? Yes. When I see gray hairs and wrinkles starting around my eyes it reminds me that this lifetime is finite and time is running. It scares me because I love life so much.

But mostly it is just confusing because inside I still feel about 28. I am exactly the same person, with the same sense of adventure, hopes and dreams, thoughts and wishes, insecurities and playfulness. I am exactly the same. My Grandma, who lived to be 99 and in the last weeks of her life was still living alone, planting a tomato garden, and driving a four-wheel drive pickup, once said to me that she was always a bit shocked when she looked in the mirror because that was not how she thought of herself. Inside she stayed 25 her entire life. That is me.

I don’t hide my age because of how I see myself, but rather how others see me. Last week I was having coffee with a friend, telling her about my plans to take time off and spend half of 2019 in South Korea. When contemplating whether this would risk my job and financial security in the future, she said to me “You are no spring chicken“. This is the second time in recent months that she has used this phrase with me. I just smile. She is in her 30’s, so it will be another ten years before she really understands why this is such a hurtful thing to say.

Those words are limiting and categorizing, and that is the heart of why I refuse to disclose my age.

Whenever anyone asks how old you are, they are searching to put you in a category. Is this person too old, or too young, for a friendship? Has this person achieved, or not achieved, what a person should have achieved – by this age? Is this person dressing appropriately – for their age? Even compliments are categorizing. If I do tell someone my age, I usually hear “I thought you were much younger. Wow, you look great!“ which is always followed by the unspoken “for your age“. I smile and say thank you, but I know that there is now a judgement hanging between us. I might now be passed over. I am in a category. I am in someone else’s box.

The absolute worst thing about this is the limitations of that box. People have strong ideas of what a person can or cannot, should or should not, do based on their age. And they not only project those limitations and expectations onto others, they also place them on themselves.

Often this relates to small silly things. “Aren’t you a little old to be a K-Pop fan?“. “Should you still be wearing Dr. Martins at your age?“ But more serious are the judgments about how we live our lives. “Shouldn’t you be married/have children/own a home by now?“. “Am I too old to follow my dream?“ “Should I really change careers this late in life?“ “Is it too late to go back to school?“

These boxes force us into decisions that go against our inner beings. They crush the joy of life right out of us, and they take away all our courage – like elephants tethered to small stakes. Our own fears, and our insecurities about what others might think, paralyzes us and keeps us from experiencing life in a way that makes us truly happy.

I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that I am not listening to those limitations anymore. In my head I am 28, and that is how I choose to experience life. I choose to run towards adventure, pursue beauty in life, enjoy everything I want to enjoy, and not worry about the future.

I’m going to Korea.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *