What’s in a number?

Age is but a number. What is a number?

Take a stab in the dark at the age of the featured male.

Stab taken?

How well did you do? He is eighteen. For those that haven’t seen, that is me. I am a teenager. I am not 27; I am not 35; I am not 84. I walked into work today and I was told I had a “daddy” look. Cara, the coworker asking, thought I was in my mid to late twenties. She almost turned the café upside-down when she found out I’m only 18. Similarly, at my uncle’s 50th birthday party, I had a guest come up to me and try directing me into a conversation with his son because I “looked about his age.” The individual in question here reminded me of one of my middle school cross country coaches: big, buff, balding, and around thirty. I will admit though, I’ve had times I’ve had myself fooled. There is a picture of my brother and I on top of Mt. Baldy in Philmont in which I feel as though I could be my brother’s uncle with the shadowing and wind-whipped hair aging me. Finally, to address the 84, I have been put through a couple of age-approximation programs and a few of my pictures have spun out results putting me in my upper 70s or 80s.

I’m not the only one though. I have a friend that used to play guitar or bass at her church every weekend and there were multiple occasions that she’d complain about college guys trying to hit on her because she looked their age. She was a high-school underclassman at the time. Another friend is told, and admits to feeling as though she looks twelve – a couple of twelve year olds at a park even came up to us and, thinking we were dating, said I was too old for her because I was eighteen and she was twelve (We were both seventeen at the time).

In addition to physical maturity, there is definitely a deviation among mental maturities (and absolutely no standard for that either). There are times that I act as though I’m “fully grown up” and that I “have it all together,” but there are other times that I behave like a “third grader” (I’ve been told that one specifically a couple times). I try to act maturely in the right situations, but it can be difficult. Then again, a third grader can try to act maturely too. Maybe the measure of maturity should be how often a person can act the age they need to be in a moment, whether that be a middle-aged executive or a carefree kindergartner.

Of course, applying an aging scale independent of physical age is nigh on impossible, but I’d like to issue the challenge of imagining a world in which is does work. What would it look like?



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