November 9, 2011

The One with the Age Dilemma

With my birthday just around the corner, I have been thinking about "age" a lot lately. Or maybe it's just on my mind because it seems to be on everyone else's mind.*

*please note--Before I get up on my little soapbox, I would like you all to know I'm not actually mad at anyone who's ever said anything about my age. I, too, enjoy knowing how old people are and comparing life experiences. If you have ever happened to say something to me along the lines of which I'm about to write, please please please don't take offense. I still love you. I'm just trying to work out this little predicament I seem to be in. You are welcome to share your thoughts with me at the end. :)

I am young. I am well aware of this.
look very young. I am well aware of this.

Melanie Growing 05
me. kindergarten.

Most of my life I've dealt with people guessing my age wrong by years and years. Decades even. Almost weekly, I see the genuine shock on someone's face when they hear I'm *almost* 26. "Oh my gosh, you look 16!" Yes, I know. I look 16. At a recent youth conference, my husband was sporting his "My Wife Rocks" tshirt and chatting with a vendor, when all of sudden the woman stopped and said, "Oh my gosh, you guys are MARRIED? How old are you? You don't look any more than 16!"
"She's 25 and I'm 24," Kevin said.

When I was actually 17 years old and my sister was just 13, I distinctly remember hearing, "Are you twins?" (by the way, we don't look anything alike...) and "I'm sorry, but which one of you is older." *sigh*

Melanie Growing 19
me. actually 17. senior picture.

I have a baby face. And I completely understand the benefits to this. Or, at least the most obvious benefit--when I'm 40, I'll look 30, right? Or when I'm 65 I might only look 55? Sure, that would be cool. All I can say is, it had better turn out that way, or I'm gonna have a bone to pick with someone. (JK, Lord, jk.)

me in the middle4 months ago.

Looks aside, I realize that *almost* 26 is still young. But is there anything wrong with being 26? I'm mean, I'm pretty sure most everyone who's older than me was, at some point, 26 years old. Right? So why is my age such an issue?

It's hard being "young." I have been an "old soul" for years and years. When I was in elementary school, I remember preferring to sit with my mom and her "lady friends" rather than playing with the kids. But I knew I wasn't really welcome at the adult table back then.

But here I am, an adult. Seven years from living at home with mom and dad. Three years out of college. Three years into a lifelong marriage. Paying gas bills, water bills, car repair bills. Maintaining excellent credit. Building my own business. I lead worship. I confidently speak in front of large congregations. I lead women's small groups. I understand what copays are and what a deductible is and how to sign up for car insurance. But yet, some days, I feel like I'm still in some awkward puberty stage, where I don't really belong with the "kids" and I don't really belong with the "adults."

I know this isn't true. I present myself in a manner that asks for mutual respect from other adults. I talk like an adult. I understand adult conversation.

So why do I feel this way?

Maybe it's because my age almost always seems to be an issue. I want to be taken seriously, even though I don't have the extra decades of life experiences. I would love for everyone to listen to me and watch my life without ever thinking, "Aww, what a nice young lady" or "Isn't that adorable? Melanie acting all grown up?" I know I'm as old as some of your children, and I'm sure that makes it kind of weird for you to see me as a friend. But my mom treats me like an equal now. She respects my opinion. She doesn't look down on me. She talks to me as she does her closest friends.

That's all I ask.

I try to remember Paul's encouragement to TimothyDon’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

I'll always be younger than someone right? So I'm just beginning to wonder, "When will I really treated be a grown up?"

Does anyone understand what I'm talking about? Do you have any thoughts or suggestions for me (and my attitude) about my age? 



  1. I felt the exact.same.way until I had a baby. Ha. :) Even during my pregnancy, I got weird looks because people apparently thought I was a teen mom-to-be. Somehow, since I've become a mom though, I've made friends with other moms. I'm not saying you're going to feel this way until you become a parent, but.. parenthood definitely does launch you into full-fledged adulthood. Just my two cents. :)

  2. Oh do I have stories for you. I can't even tell you how MANY times my age (and the age I appear) have gotten me in "trouble", especially at work as a nurse. I have been kicked out of patient rooms, removed from assignments, belittled, berated, and even poked on the forehead (by a patient's dad!) for "being" and looking too young. At LEAST once a shift, some kind of comment is made regarding my age, my looks, and how it must relate to my experience and expertise. I must rely heavily on 1 Tim 4:12 and not to be snarky and immature but set an example of joy and love. :)

  3. I understand more than you know! and it is really hard to be a pastor's wife and look really young. I totally understand!

  4. Heehee clearly you are not alone! I completely sympathise. I remember as a sophomore in college going to a hair stylist who guessed I was 12. All my life people have assumed my sister was the older one or that I must have skipped several grades, etc. I often blame this derision of youth on the fact that, in our age/appearance-obsessed culture right now, people don't want to acknowledge how old THEY are, so they try to make a big deal over how young YOU seem. As my baby sister is getting ready to graduate high school, I'm realizing how much I keep wanting to treat her like a child again, largely because I have trouble facing the fact that I still don't have my life together and I thought by the time I was this age I'd be further along. I say try not to take it personally. "Man looks at outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." He is the one that defines you.

  5. Mel, Nick and I went to a church Thanksgiving dinner last night and sat with people who we didn't know. This morning at church the single, older, "South American" lady came up to us after the service and said, "I'm sorry, last night I just thought you were friends with the Johnson's (the other family at our table... I didn't realize you were married. You looked so young from the waist up.. then this morning I saw you in the choir and then you were sitting together. When you stand up and I can see your hands (rings) you look older."

    So maybe you just have to stand up..... lol


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