“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” –C.S. Lewis
Recently, I’ve come to realize that age is just a number. Seriously though, what exactly does the fact that you’ve been on the Earth for 16 years mean that you’re suddenly capable of operating a motor vehicle without parental supervision? And wait another two years and you’re suddenly able to vote. What does the fact that you’ve been alive for a certain time have to do with how mature or responsible you are? Why does age matter so much? It’s just a number. Just because one person may be capable of driving at 16 doesn’t mean that all 16 year olds are capable of driving. Am I right?
Age is something that people in our society put WAY too much value on. You can’t run for president unless you’re 35. You can’t rent a car unless you’re 25. You can’t start working for pay until you’re 16. Age is simply a number that reflects just how long you’ve been breathing on this Earth. I fall victim to this all the time–just ask my parents, my siblings or my friends. I count down to my birthday like it’s a national holiday 🙂 Especially this past birthday since suddenly, I was considered a legal adult. Suddenly, I have to give my parents permission to access my medical records. I have to release my grades to my parents in college since they don’t have access to them themselves.
I’ve never understood the correlation between the time you’ve been breathing to your own capabilities. True, there are some 16 year olds who are certainly capable of driving themselves around without parents in the passenger seat. But there are also MANY 16 year olds who are not as capable. Along the same lines, there are probably some really responsible 15 year olds who could also be behind the wheel, but can’t because the time that they have been breathing is less than their peers, who may not be as responsible or mature. Society puts restrictions on people based on the number of years they have been alive as if it’s the only way to truly measure maturity or even capability as a whole.
I personally find age to be quite an arbitrary figure. After all, there are plenty of people who are “adults” and are still living like they are children–with no sense of responsibility or need to take ownership of their own destinies. Similarly, there are plenty of “children” or “teenagers” who are surpassing the expectations of a “normal” person their age–writing books, raising money, and advocating for the people who can’t advocate for themselves, despite their young age. People who are “young” shouldn’t feel discouraged to do “adult” things, like live their dreams or work hard to achieve a goal, just because they aren’t legally “adults.” On the other side of the coin, people who are “old” shouldn’t feel discouraged as if their prime time has gone by and they can somehow no longer make a difference in the world just because they are “old.” Instead of age being the determining factor for how people are treated, people should have to prove their capability/responsibility/maturity in how they act, who they are, and what they’ve done to be given such freedoms.
After all, it’s not about how many breaths you’ve taken, it’s about the moments that take your breath away.