COUNTDOWN TO MY BETDAY: WHEN AGE IS NO MORE ‘JUST A NUMBER’
Last Friday, 28th July, 2017, the same day I posted my article about the last Local Government Elections (https://shegzsablezs.blogspot.com.ng/2017/07/last-saturdays-local-government.html), I was out for lunch with a female friend and we talked about some random things. One of them – the number of years we have spent on earth and I concluded ignorantly that “age is just a number”. Honestly, I knew I was wrong but I said that because it seemed appropriate at that time. I also spent some minutes alone during the weekend and I was thinking about my life in its totality and the fact that I will be celebrating my birthday in 10 days! I thought; “what have I achieved in life?” “In the last 365 days, what have I done differently?” “Am I a better person compared to the previous year?” “What reasons justify the purchase of cake and a few drinks for colleagues and co-workers?” if age is just a number, I should not be asking myself these questions.
Similarly, On Wednesday, 2nd August, 2017, I was listening to Gbemi on the “Drive Time Show” on the Beat when I was returning home from a stressful day at work and she told us about a 14 years old Nigerian girl that just returned from the UNESCO conference where she spoke to World Leaders about the importance of educating the girl child – I felt like an under achiever. Gbemi also told her listeners about the teenagers’ plans to premiere a short documentary in Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja and tour three continents – five countries in a bid to drive home her point on the need to ensure that her voice is heard by decision makers. At the age of 14, I was in Senior Secondary School, Class I (SS1) and I have not known what my purpose in life was. If age is just a number, a 14 years old girl’s accomplishments should not make me feel sad.
In consequence, an article by Patricia Aglio, a 21 years old writer titled; Why Age Is Not Just A Number puts our discussion into perspectives. Excerpts, “It has become a social normative to place a high value on numbers. We value the amount of likes, favorites, and shares on a post, picture, tweet, etc. We value the quantity of friends or followers we have on any given social media. We value the three-digit number on the bathroom scale, the scores of a standardized test, and the number of calories in a small square inch of Hershey’s chocolate. The most important number we nearly obsess about though? Age. Now as a 21-year old, I frequently hear the common expression “Age is just a number” from my elders on milestone birthdays. I understand though, it’s an expression used to justify the process of aging and I’m sure I’ll use it one day, too. At what point, however, is age really just a number? At what point do we stop placing value on a number in a society warped by numerical values?”
In the third paragraph, the writer continued thus; “I’m not saying whether or not I agree or disagree with the current age restrictions, but I am saying the value of age is something we all think about differently. Age is the difference between juvenile court and adult court. Age is the difference between calling your own doctor and your mom being able to call for you. Age is even the difference between being able to order off the kid’s menu. We already know aging is inevitable, but we only make the aging process harder on ourselves and others when we stop meeting the age expectations that we’re bombarded with by society’s interrogations of what age we’ll start our careers, what age we’ll wed, and what age we’ll have children. Think about how we pride people on their accomplishments based on being the “youngest” or a “rookie” in sports or academia.” (Source: Age Is Not Just A Number – Patricia Aglio).
Additionally, I remember vividly a colleague’s frustration when he noted on his birthday sometimes in May, 2017 that he is the same age with Emmanuel Macron, the new French President. Our age has the ability to make us feel less-fulfilled no matter the amount of victories we can boast of; this is because we tend to aim higher just like my colleague who believed he has not achieved anything in life when compared to his age mate – President Macron. I feel the same way too when I remember that I share the same year of birth with that young Nigerian Hip Hop artiste. Perhaps, why did I note it in that article when I hit the One Million Naira mark at a certain age (https://shegzsablezs.blogspot.com.ng/2017/05/lagos-is-my-success-story-land-of-hustle.html) when most of my age mates are still looking for jobs, some are still undergraduates whereas others are still searching for their purpose in life. if age is just a number, I would not bother if the Punch Newspapers published my first article on my 20th birthday or my 65th birthday.
Conclusively, I also believe we only shy away from our actual age and the process of aging because of the responsibilities the society demand from us as we continue to age. For instance, I would not like to state my real age if I do not have sufficient achievements that meets my age standard but “by the time we are walking through our fifth or sixth decade of life, most of us have hit a wall or two — and those walls can hurt. But we’ve learned that life only defeats us if we allow it to. We get wiser, more resilient and more understanding. We now know that we don’t always get what we want. What we do get, though, is the result of effort, courage and getting up each morning to do the right thing with a smile of love for ourselves and our fellow man. So those “laugh” lines around our eyes and that not-quite-so-firm jaw are the outer badges of inner battles won and witnessed. Age is so much more than just a number! With age come wisdom, courage, humility, compassion, patience and heart-healing laughter. We have earned every line on our faces because they reflect the passions of willing hearts and souls that have done some real living and are so much the richer for it.” (Age Is So Much More than Just a Number – Robin Korth)