Our Obsession with Being Young
What do Mother Gothel from Rapunzel and Bangladeshi people have in common?
They both treat aging like a curse. We seem to be enamoured by youth and it is this disproportionate focus on being young that takes away from the excitement of getting older. So why has our culture come up with our one-size-fits-all schedule for life and why is it thrust upon everyone?
The answer is complicated and the chances of finding a proper reason are bleak. Take for example a toddler who is about to go to school for the first time. Many parents from this region go out of their way to alter their children's birth dates, reducing their ages by a year or two. The fact that their child is literally a toddler who is decades away from growing grey hair is of little importance. This move has been justified by the need to make sure their child is seen to be graduating early on paper. This is further justified by the need to be of a certain age for bagging jobs in the future. It is a chain of events that eventually lead up to exposing our society's blatant fear and distaste toward aging.
As we grow older, we are subject to more gruelling deadlines for grander and more life-changing events in our lives. Be it marriage, getting a postgraduate degree, or earning salaries of a certain number of digits, people tend to strap themselves to this invisible ticking time bomb. The fear surrounding the eruption of such time bombs can cause disarray in our lives. It leads us to think of ourselves as failures when that is not the case. Furthermore, this causes us to feel less at ease with ourselves for being unable to a certain milestone by a specific age. In this process of beating ourselves up, we tend to forget two very important things.
The first is that we all take unique paths in our life. No one has lived our lives or has gone through the same circumstances that we have. Therefore, it makes no sense for us to compare ourselves to others.
Secondly, we probably all want to be content with our lives in our thirties or forties but the blow from failed expectations can often be too harsh to bear. As a result, many end up too demoralized to reach certain goals. In such cases, it can be helpful to remind ourselves that achievements that come after a certain age can be equally fruitful and rewarding. The unfair burden that we place on ourselves needs to be lifted.
To say our society's obsession with the youth plays out only in life goals is inaccurate. The fixation is also apparent in the media we are presented within our day-to-day lives. Characters in television are usually portrayed by actors much younger and magazines are usually filled with pages after pages celebrating primarily young achievers. This is not to suggest that they should have no share in the limelight. The point of recognizing this issue is to acknowledge that aging is getting a bad reputation, which only harms us in return.
A lot of people may feel as though life is moving too quickly these days. Undoubtedly, we have very little command over time itself. However, we do have control over how we would like our time to be spent. As we resort to living life for ourselves and not for other people, we can learn to accept and even cherish the challenges of growing older instead of treating it like a taboo.
Irina needs to give up on the extreme sport of trying to finish assignments hours before the deadline. Send help at [email protected]