Age ain’t nothing but a number

As I waited to pick up lunch, I caught part of an NFL game. It’s the first I’ve seen of my team in years, and as I watched I realized something that wasn’t true all those years ago. Now, some of these kids are my age! (Some of them may be even younger!)

That observation is just further evidence of my age hang-up. This hyper-awareness probably stems from my college graduation; I was 20 when I received my bachelor’s, and have been noticing age demographics ever since.

I’m not sure it was a big deal to anyone else, but I was always aware of my place as the youngest in my grad program at Florida State.(I have a cushion at Alabama; three of us were born within a month’s time, so I’m not alone at 23.) I’m never quite sure where I fit.

I complicate things further through the men I date. My ex is three and a half years older than me. It rarely came up in conversation, but it hovered as insecurity in the back of my mind.

I’ve also had several crushes on younger men, both before and since that relationship. (In fact, the only date I’ve been on in the past five years was with a younger man!) None of those guys was anything more than a friend, and so the age difference wasn’t important. (It was also much smaller than the difference between my ex and I in both of these instances.) But it still crossed my mind.

Call me old fashioned, but I’m always careful to avoid “emasculating” the men in my life. I let them open doors for me. (It’s part of being southern, you know.) I try to let them defend themselves in debates (a strange example, but it did come up once in the past). I prefer to date men who are smarter than me—partially because that attracts me, partially because I don’t want to dominate a relationship, and I fear that could become the case if I were intellectually superior.

Now I’m approaching another graduation, and my mental age barriers are slowly fading. I don’t think it’s nearly as strange to be 23 with a master’s as to be 20 with a bachelor’s. Maybe (maybe?) I’m coming into my own.

4 Comments

Filed under Autobiography

4 Responses to Age ain’t nothing but a number

  1. Meg

    I can be hyper-aware of age too, though I’m not sure why. Like you, I am the youngest (or one of the youngest) in my grad program, partially because I entered it a year early as a 3+2 program and partially because many of the classmates have come back to school after at least a few years in the field. Those who are coming straight from undergrad are only a year older than me, but it feels different as they are forming new friendships in a new place in grad school while after class I would go to hang out with my friends who are my age and younger on the undergrad level. It intimidates me on the intelligence level too, as I feel somewhat inferior just because of my age and lack of experience. But being in the second (and last, wahoo!) year of my program and nearing graduation, it’s almost starting to even out as I felt almost like I “proved” myself last year. I still feel old in the Crusade crowd (well, because I am), but not necessarily so young in the School of Social Work anymore. Wow, rambling.

    I hear you on guys as well, but I think the factor that comes in for me is that he has something that intrigues me. :o)

  2. this year i had the option of starting high school at 13 but i didn’t because i didn’t want to be the youngest one there. plus my best friend wendy is still in eighth, so… anyway i get what you’re saying. i always like older guys. men. not that i’m allowed to date or anything, or would date a man if i could, but as far as just LIKING goes, boys my age are so, i don’t know… silly.

  3. Tim

    You get to a point where you don’t really even notice it. DUde, I am 29 now & just about to start a totally new bachelors degree! (Theology). Anyway, it could be worse. My friend Greg had to start a Doctorate in philosophy at 21!

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