I’ve asked all my Academia classes what they think the best age is to be.
The teenagers all say 18 and the adults over 30 all say between 25 and 30.
One 50+ woman actually said between 30 and 40 but she stands alone in her opinion.
The teenagers say 18 because they essentially see their lives as perfect with the exception that they can’t legally drive until age 18, hence 18 is their idea of the best age.
The adults all say 25-30 because people here finish their degrees around 25 and by age 30 usually have a life partner.
When I ask them what a young person can do that an old person can’t, they all say that you can’t go out as much (or at all) when you’re old.
Am I naive to think that most Americans would not have the same response? Am I the only one who can see good things about every age and actually looks forward to getting older? I can understand the 25-30 thing, but 18? I hope we don’t reach our peak at 18. If that were the case that would mean we spend the majority of our lives in decline. Actually, the same would be true if we reached our peak at 30…
We hear all the time that American culture only values youth but apparently we aren’t alone. We can all breathe a sigh of relief–the guilt we Americans feel every day for being American can once again be at least partially relieved of duty. Other cultures have the same problems we do!
If most Americans do actually agree with the 18-30 estimate, it’s pretty safe to say that their reasoning would not be that you can’t go out when you’re older. Spanish people are so social that their fears about getting older are entirely about missing out on friendship, beer, and coming home at 7 AM. American fears are probably more superficial or physical–you’re less attractive, less fit.
As for me, this American has no problem with aging. I will never be ashamed of my age…my kids can tell whoever they want that their mom is 58, 75, 84 years old. We should be thankful for another year on Earth, not lament it as some kind of tragic inevitability. Good things come and go with every age–wisdom, confidence, independence, security, love–and I will make the most out of stage of life I am in. Right now I’m very happy being 21 and I can only hope that I’ll find ways to stay happy, if not become happier.