- stereotyping, prejudice or discrimination on the grounds of a person’s age. “ageism in recruitment is an increasing problem”
I am going to start with a few questions for you.
- Is it always important for you to only hang out with people your own age?
- Do you only consider dating in a certain age range and never step out of that range?
- Do you only accept the views of people in your own age range and view others on the outside of that range to be “uninformed” about your experiences?
If you have answered yes to one or both of these questions, you might be an ageist. Well, that might be a strong statement, so let me rephrase. You might have practiced ageism knowingly or unknowingly. I recently had to admit that about myself and it was only after taking some time to reflect on it and research on what ageism is all about that I realised just how limiting this mindset can be. The extreme forms of ageism can lead to people being overlooked for job opportunities or being discriminated against in society. However, I am going to describe my own experience with ageism, from how I have come to understand it.
The first time I came face to face with my own prejudice related to age was a little while back when I went on the GPS Gateway Camp . This was the first time I admitted to having stereotyped people according to their age and I felt really ashamed to have done this. The funny thing is as I was busy making stereotypes about people based on their age, it did not occur to me that I was also making those same stereotypes about myself (judging myself as old).
Here is how it happened:
So, we arrived at the camp on the first day and it was a Monday afternoon. I registered as an individual camper which meant that I would be part of a team of people who will be meeting each other for the very first time, unlike those who registered as a group. So, you know how it goes when you have to make introductions… The conversation went like this:
“Hey, how are you? My name is ….and I am from (insert country of origin), how old are you?”
I was fine answering the first part of the question, but the last part I found myself feeling oddly uncomfortable. For some reason, I felt uneasy answering the question about my age. The reason being that the people in my team looked really young. I immediately thought, OMG, I am in the wrong team. I am in my early 30s and most of the people in the camp looked like they were teenagers. My reaction was so immediate and sort of subconscious. I had judged them based on their appearance and made the conclusion that they were young and therefore, I was in the wrong group/the wrong camp.
In hindsight, I am happy to know how wrong I was to have made that judgement because even though the people in my team were much younger, it was the right group for me. Their energy levels and stories made me reflect back on my days as a young adult and also gave me an opportunity to feel like an older sister.
These days I am learning to work on my prejudices. I am willing to befriend people outside of my age range and I honestly think that has widened my network a whole lot. I am finding that younger or older people also have a lot they can show and teach me. Even people ten years younger or older than me. I also realised the importance of having a teachable spirit and not judging a book by its cover. Funny story…none of the people in my team believed me when I told them my real age, so it goes to show that age is really just a number.
Have you confronted your ageism and in what instances? Drop me a message below, you know that I always love to hear from you.