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Image Credits: Paul Downey Serving Seniors

Hey guys! So I’ve been procrastinating doing day 9 of the 30-Day Writing Challenge. I did have a little bit (not much) of free time. I’m starting to get more used to this new work schedule — I’m wide awake by 4 and I crash before 10 like an old lady now (even on weekends!). However, I’m not loving the theme for day 9, so I’ve been dreading writing about.

The theme? Write about your feelings on ageism.

Now this sounds like a really easy topic to write on at first. AGEISM SUCKS, DUH! However, when you really critically think about it and sit down to write about, you realize it’s not as easy as you think.

As much as I hate to admit it, I am guilty of committing acts of ageism.

And more than likely, so are you.

I actually looked up the definition of ageism on Dictionary.com. The first definition I totally agree with and is pretty straight forward:

Discrimination against persons of a certain age group.

The second definition, however, I’m not so sure of:

tendency to regard older persons as debilitated, unworthy of attention, or unsuitable for employment.

I agree that is PART of the definition — but what about ALL AGES? Honestly, I think I see ageism is younger people more than older people these days.

Ageism is a huge problem in the work force, especially for the younger generations…the “millennials”. If I see another article on how lazy and unmotivated and undisciplined millennials are, I might scream. Based on my age I fall into the category of being a “millennial”. So basically all of these articles are telling me I’m lazy and unmotivated. Yes because going into work at 7:10 or 7:15 every day when I don’t have to be there until 7:30 (and I live over 45 minutes away…) and leaving around 4:30 (when I can leave at 4) makes me lazy and unmotivated. Oh, and I just got accepted into grad school which I’ll be attending as I continue to work full time. Not to mention all of the other things I plan on doing…so by saying “all millennials are lazy, terrible workers”, these people who are writing these articles, or even thinking these thoughts, are committing ageism.

And yes, older people face it in the workplace, too. This is especially true for certain positions. How old is the average social media manager? They are the millennials! Many people think it looks weird or is wrong to hire someone over the age of 30 to manage social media, because it is a “kid” thing or a “millennial” thing. Older people won’t understand how it works. If you agree with this way of thinking, you too, are guilty of committing ageism.

Ageism exists in the way we view and judge relationships, too. I only want to date people older than me. I think they are the only ones I can relate to. Younger men are too immature and not on my level. This is ageism. Have I met and dated every younger man in the world? No, I have not.

I have, however, dated two different men on separate occasions that were more than a decade older than me. One of them broke my heart, but was the first (and maybe only) man I ever truly, whole-heartedly loved. The other was a good relationship. Nothing “wrong” really happened, we just lacked chemistry.But people judged me so much on these relationships. These relationships were perfectly legal — I was 22 and 23 and they were 32 and 34. This is what I wanted. This feeling was mutual at the time. There were times before we broke up that we were happy. Yet people didn’t think we belonged together because of our age gap. Who were they to judge us or to tell us what was or wasn’t right. If we were happy, isn’t that all that really mattered?

But even though I know how bad it felt to be judged based on my age and the age difference in my relationships when despite the difference, I was happy, I still am guilty of judging people and participating in ageism for the same exact thing!

One of my ex’s that I just described is actually dating a girl who is significantly younger than I am right now. Actually, it’s more than just dating. They are engaged. More than that, they are expecting their first child together. She just turned 18. He just turned 36. When I first found out they were dating, one of my first thoughts weren’t “aw I’m happy for them” (even though they are both my friends). It was What the heck? Is that even legal? (For the record, it was. The age of consent is 16…she was 17 when they started dating).

And I was surprised when I found out they were expecting a baby, naturally. She’s so young and he’s so much older than her. He was so much older than me and she is like what, 7 years younger than me? And I felt sad for her because I felt like she was being robbed of part of her life that he’s already gone and experienced.

And then when I went to write this post and really evaluate my feelings on ageism…I reconsidered my thoughts. It’s not my business. This couple is facing so much crap now because of their situation and their age gap. And it’s messed up. Yes, their is a big age gap. Yes, it’s considered “taboo”. Yes, she’s going to be a teen mom and this wasn’t planned and I know she’s probably terrified.

But do you know what else I know? I, and everyone else, has no right to judge them. I know they are happy. They love each other. I can see it in a way that others cannot because I dated him first. He broke up with me because he didn’t love me and knew he never would. He sees her in ways that he could never see me and I see it in the way he talks to her, about her, all he does for her. It is obvious. And although I never met her in person and don’t know her as well, I believe she feels the same way about him, too. I mean, she moved like a thousand miles (or several hundred at least) when she was only 17 to live with him, before ever even meeting him in real life. It is insane, but it reminds me of what I would’ve done back when I was with Casey, so in that sense, I understand exactly what she’s doing. The difference is, her fiance really loves her. At the time with Casey, he didn’t love me like I loved him.

They love each other. They’re happy. They want to be together. Nobody has any right to take that away from them and any negative thought anyone has about them being together, is, or may be, an act of ageism.

Ageism is a horrible thing and something that we as individuals need to stop doing so much. However, as I hope I have demonstrated, it’s not always that easy. Ageism is one of the easiest acts of prejudice a person can commit, because it comes so naturally and we often times don’t even realize that our thought and actions can  be labeled as ageism.

Instead of casting judgements on people because of how old they are, let’s instead judge them based on their character. Character is what defines us. Our age? That’s just a number.

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