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  • Sarah Walker

Age on the Page

Just when I get my head back into that zone where I know who I am, I know what kind of person I am, I can pretty much guarantee that someone will open their prejudiced mouth. There is nothing quite like that heart-wrenching moment where someone you’ve never met before makes you feel like you’re worth less than the s**t on their shoes. All they had to do to make you feel that way was to make non-subtle comments about you based on the way you look. Every time this happens to me, I keep moving forward, pretending not to notice, pretending that my feelings have not been hurt.


The mind boggles that we can develop science to its current level, but we still judge others based on something as shallow as their appearance. We all know who we are, and we like to believe the rest of the world sees that but, now and then, you get that soul-destroying moment where someone destroys that illusion.


It’s true what they say: you never hear good of yourself when you listen in to another’s conversation. But I’m not talking about listening to hushed voices. I’m talking about the kind of people who don’t even bother to try to hide the fact they’re talking about you.


Seriously, why do people feel the need to comment? We have no control over the way we look – it’s not like we get to choose our DNA. We are the sum of our experiences – our appearance should play no role in those experiences. Unfortunately, our experiences are coloured by the happy or unhappy convergence of the DNA that makes up our bodies.


I don’t know why it bugs the hell out of me when people form judgemental opinions about others before they even get to know them. Maybe it’s because I’ve felt like the victim of my face for most of my life. It wouldn’t be fair to talk about the prejudices other people experience because I have no way to understand what they go through, but I can empathise with my specific problem.


What do I mean by “feeling like the victim of my face”? I look incredibly young for my age - cue the millions of the world’s smallest violin. Every time I moan about looking young, I’m told how lucky I am – they’re right. I am fortunate. I wouldn’t change how young I look because there are so many perks to youthful looks. I can get pearls of wisdom from people who are the same age as me. No one bats an eyelid when I decide to wear clothes that even I find a little too revealing – I quickly change out of them; I dress for comfort, not sex appeal. Unfortunately, those perks rarely outweigh the problems I deal with on a daily basis – all because people judge others based on looks alone.


What’s the downside to looking young for your age? No one takes you seriously. When I meet people in the real world, they see my face before they hear my words. That moment before I open my mouth to speak is all it takes for them to dismiss anything I say instantly. I’m not kidding when I say that people have completely blanked something I’ve said in a conversation, only for the same comment to be acknowledged from the person sitting next to me. I feel invisible in every social situation where no one knows my age. I could remedy that by walking around announcing my age, but that’s just weird. Isn’t it? I have told people my age a couple of times, and all that happens is ten minutes of them repeating, "What? Really? No way?! Really?? No way."


My dating life in the real world doesn’t exist – this post was originally going to be about being single during the pandemic, then I realised what the hell would I talk about?! I’m a **-year-old virgin – I never thought I’d be able to say that when I was a teenager. Men my own age won’t look twice at me while those young enough to be my son regularly ask me out, then I get the joy of breaking their hearts because I’m too old for them. I have tried internet dating, but I’m not comfortable with meeting someone online – they could be anyone. Unless they’re stupid enough to claim to be Tom Cruise or Dwayne Johnson, I have no way to know if they’re lying about anything.


When I meet new people, they assume my education level is relatively low and treat me as such - condescension in all its glorious colours. Eventually, I’m forced into a corner where I have to correct them on that issue, which rarely ends well. I've well and truly earned the title "B**ch" for standing up for myself.


Looking young for your age also affects your career because you don’t look old enough to be in a position of responsibility. Who would take orders from someone who looks like they have no life experience? Let's be honest, age plays no role in life experience - there are teenagers with more life experience than some of the adults I know.


Let’s not forget that awful stereotypical opinion of young adults – they’re all apparently a bunch of lazy rebels. I’ve worked with some pretty mature young adults through my job, but the world tries to squash them into a box that must fit all young adults. I’ve lost track of the number of times someone accused me of doing something I didn’t do – they can never resist the urge to confront the nearest adult, who must be one of my parents.

I could go on with all the downsides to looking young for your age, but that would bore the hell out of people - assuming I haven't done that already. People take one look at me, then immediately assign me to the unfair stereotype of a young adult, which instantly devalues everything I’ve achieved in my life.


Everyday, someone is the victim of unfair assumptions based on meaningless information that we associate with certain people. If we pushed aside our prejudices, we might be surprised by what we discover beneath external appearances. We might find a lifelong friendship that wouldn’t have happened if we continued to believe fallacies about certain groups of people.


Here's hoping the world becomes a more enlightened place!

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