Most of you know my oft mentioned example from writing class.  When I was showing my work to my writing class I received contradictory criticism: one person said my characters acted too young, while another said they acted too old.  Then I had a real life situation with the same idea- I perceived someone as acting old, while my husband thought the same person acted young.  So I began overthinking it, and now I present you with my somewhat muddled thoughts.

In the case of my story, the four female characters (late 50’s) were perceived as too old to be talking about sex and their sex lives, because women in their fifties don’t do that.  Someone else thought they were too young to be sitting around a table drinking tea and eating a tart because women in their fifties were to young to do this. Do either of those things exemplify old or young?  Personally, I’ve talked about sex with my bestie female friends. (I know- you’re shocked to learn this tidbit about me).  I also spend a decent amount of time drinking hot beverages with my friends and perhaps having a nice, baked good.  I’m older than some, younger than others, but is my behavior odd?  (again- tread lightly with this questions)

Now, the real life example.  We have a friend S.  I think S acts old because he has absolutely no idea about popular culture.  He doesn’t know the more popular books, movies, television shows or music. He is pretty unaware of what is going on in the world today.   My Husband thinks S acts young because he likes to barhop on a Saturday night.

Which of us is right?  Well, probably neither of us.  Because there is no formula for what makes someone old or young. What makes someone seem old, or young, is in the eye of the beholder.

My family calls me old because i love to watch “Murder, She Wrote” reruns, but my daughter thinks I’m young because I kick butt at spin class.  Old because I am able to get an AARP card, young because I can’t wait to see Pink next month.  Do any of these things make me old or young?

So- it’s the day I ask all of you to write my blog.

What traits make you think someone is youthful for their age, or what makes you think someone is old for their age?  Are there certain traits that distinguish young from old?

 

68 thoughts on “Act Your Age

  1. Ah… the age-old question! To be honest, I think if you have enough examples embedded in descriptions and actions, anything can be believable. It’s the balance of detail that presents a picture, the word choice that conjures thoughts in the reader’s mind… if you have 10 to 12 thru-out the story that YOU feel make a person feel a certain way, then it should lean that way in your writing. Now that I’m done being vague…

    consider if they’re an ‘old soul’ which would show values from the past. That will make them feel older than they really are. Consider how they dress… more on trend and wild, that might make the come across younger. It’s the 80/20 rule. Someone will always see the 80-year-old in the mini skirt with the sorta-see-thru camisole and thigh high boots talking about her latest SnapChat as a youngin’! I think I just presented a really odd image. I’m crawling back in the hole.

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  2. I agree with ally. It’s a good question to ponder. I’m not sure how to answer except my conversations about sex are less often very boring and usually end with. What kind of lube do you use? 😁 just kidding. Yesterday at work I found out that this girl I thought was 21 is really 31. She looks young. She very sensitive and every emotional. She looks like she is going to cry every time you tell her to do something.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a great point. The way you handle yourself says a lot about how old you appear. We need to think about tha5 as we’re writing….what little actions make people think young or old

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great points! You had me really pondering what you wrote. 😀 I agree that how old or young a person is an opinion of each person. I guess the exception would be if someone was 100 years old and another was a newborn. Then, perhaps we could say that 100-year-old person is old and the newborn is young. LOL

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      1. I don’t know. Not sure I think about it too often, other than the young kids driving around that look like they’re twelve. LOL The older I get, the younger the teens and young adults look. 😛

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I think it’s less about how you act and more so about how you feel. My husband is 30 years old. His joints ache and are in pain all the time. He has to take glucosamine to help with it. However, he acts like he’s 20 years old too because he likes to be silly and run around the with kids. He plays video games with our 5 year old, and then stays up at night with me with our newborn. I’m exhausted by the time morning rolls around, but he is good to go. His body says he’s old, but his mind/heart tells him he is not. Thank you for sharing!

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  5. First of all, no age is too old to talk about, think about or actually have sex. Ageism is a serious problem and the idea that someone doesn’t think people in their 50’s are sexually active is frightening.
    My daughters have both commented on how I have a more interesting social life (concerts, travel, theater) than they do. Also, that I’m more youthful now than they remember from when they were little; perspective is an amazing thing. Of course when you are a child, every adult it “old.”
    I have friends of a variety of ages and the reality is age is just a number and attitude and interests are more important.

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    1. The person who thought 50ish women don’t talk about sex was the guy who was about 80. He thought that was immature. My daughte4 usually thinks I’m horribly old. She often asks me about my pet dinosaur….

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Maybe Mr Grumpy Old Man didn’t have a healthy relationship when he was that age. I recently left a writing group to get away from a similar guy who decided to be a bully. That’s on them, not us.
        Regarding your daughter, she’ll figure it out someday.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I feel old. Everything hurts. I’m tired. Old.
    Yesterday I was on the ball, running around, getting stuff done. Young.
    Then I had a coaches meeting at a bar at 8 pm. Meaning I left the house for 8 pm. Young. Except…
    I didn’t get home till close to 10 pm. Which is my bedtime. OLD.
    What I’m saying is….I DON’T KNOW THE ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTION.
    🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  7. All good comments. Some days I feel 20 and some days I feel 80. Neither are my age. I think now that people are living longer, age is more indeterminate. My mom is 94 and still driving and walking the mall. Not sure any of this helps with your writing.

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  8. My youngest writes ‘Auld one’ instead of Mam on cards to me. That’s what I am to him. Old! My siblings, especially my brother, call me The Elder Lemon! Does that make me old, don’t think so. To my Dad I am still his child, no matter what age I am. Age is just a number.

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  9. Haha, this is hilarious. Don’t think you can define age by what people do, especially these days. Most folks going to the pub, bar, theatre, cinema, etc. are well over 40! In the office, it always seemed to be me going out and about, not the 20 year olds. As you say, the conversation is often on the diverse side too. Interesting post. 💕

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    1. Thank you. Where I live, bars are truly the domain of the young. Whereas other things are strictly filled with older people. It’s how we perceive age I guess

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  10. I wanted to answer but all the above responses were spot on! I think you’re as old as you feel. So your characters are as old as they feel. And if they feel old they should complain about it. If they are young they should complain about getting old.

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  11. I do like your comparative examples, so I’ll give it a whirl: My nieces and nephews all think I’m old because I prefer to write to them via email and by sending snail-mail cards (rather than the fancy phone message apps they prefer). However, I’m pleased with the fact that I completely pay all my bills, alimony, and investments electronically. – Marty

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  12. I think “acting your age” has more to do with a person’s level of maturity, and can’t be measured by whether they want to have tea with friends, etc. For example, if a person takes offense at the slightest remark that was meant innocently, perhaps that person has some growing up to do. The older we get, the wiser we get (hopefully). Having tea and tart can happen at any age, and if someone thinks otherwise, perhaps they have some growing up to do 🙂

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  13. I think at every stage in a person’s life they are exhibiting “old and young” traits. Ever seen a teen want total independence yet also wants to sit on her mom’s lap? Age is but a number. Maturity comes with time. Neither is wrong. It’s what makes us all individuals. I love a hot tea and a pastry, Katy Perry, Ed Sheeran, The Real Housewives, Antiques Roadshow on PBS, and jeggings with a jaunty scarf over my jacket.

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  14. I know very little about pop culture right now and it doesn’t bother me one bit. my interests lay elsewhere. but it’s to each their own as far as I’m concerned. I say knock yourself out if it makes you happy. 🙂

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    1. Pop culture was the wrong word for me to use, cause I really meant current events. God knows I don’t need/want to know what passes for “culture” these days…😉

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  15. To me it is when people think that because they are a certain age they now have to like things that “old people enjoy”. My husband has all of a sudden taken to listening to jazz and classical music, something he never liked before. I am all for trying new things but thinking that is what is expected when you get older is ridiculous, now excuse me while I go play Bruno Mars and dancce around the house!

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    1. I agree with that. My mom has a friend who took up bridge because she thought she was “supposed” to. But I’ve listened to classical my whole life. So, there you go…

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  16. Life is too nuanced to really nail down ‘young or old behaviour’ surely? An open mind keeps us curious and learning; an experienced mind gives us wisdom and perspective; a willing mind gives us new adventures… but a creaky body definitely ages us!

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  17. I think most people have traits that could be described as young, and others that could be described as old. Not being willing to try new technology – old. Getting angry at a sibling, pouting and not speaking to them – young. Both describe my mother. I think we are probably all that way. So, I think it doesn’t matter if some of your descriptions seem off to your critics. As long as some seem age appropriate, others can be wildly in other directions. Unless your character is just in general immature or extra-wise.

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  18. Having something to look forward to keeps you young. Some are born old and before their time. I still feel excited for every new occurrence. My husband just peered over my shoulder at your little cat in the box trying to figure out what is is/was. He said to me, “and you think I have weird friends.” I love cats, myself! Hmm. Whatever keeps us young but we can still rely on the wisdom of our older age.

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  19. Every 50 plus woman I know talks about sex at some point! I think acting young is just about enthusiasm and passion – there’s that old cliché about elderly people having no interest in anything new and just taking about their medical appointments (I know young people who do this as well). That’s what I see as ‘old’ behaviour. I know people in their 70s and 80s who read, have a laugh and have interest in others and that makes me see them as young.

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  20. I was reminded of one of the forwards I received on social media where a lady says ” They say I don’t act my age. How can I do that when I was never so old!! “. It always depends on how we feel from within, the company we are with, the physical conditions etc etc. Too many variables to generalize and come up with an equation.

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  21. To me, old is when you begin to ignore the outside world, resist any and all change, and just live in your own little bubble. Also, you lose interest in other people’s lives and their stories. Your conversations are basically limited to telling others your stories.
    That being said, the few times I actually look at a People magazine, I have no idea who most of the people in the magazine are. So maybe I have more in common with your friend that I care to admit!

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    1. Yeah…I probably used pop culture wrong…I really meant current event, but you know, with age comes the ability to forget the correct words….

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  22. The fiftysomething age bracket is a hot mess of expectations of other people, especially the 50something female. We’re old enough and capable enough to be outstanding leaders and knowledgable about how the world works–and we absolutely terrify most of the menfolk. We have our daughters still trying not to be mortified or be accused of being like us. We are challenging just by being alive, smart, and human. I rather enjoy not knowing who the people in the magazines are–I have other concerns in my life, much bigger and more important than the Kardashians. Many women get increasingly radical and impatient as we reach that certain age. We want peace in our time, we want stupid things to stop, and we want our kids to have what they need in this world. Also our neighbor’s kids. Yes, a woman of a certain age who has passion and path is timeless. Old and young are relative terms but usually people use those terms to put other people in some kind of “approval” box. We can get beyond needing that approval. It’s a struggle and a challenge, but there it is.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Totally agree. My post yesterday said some similar things. And I need to correct where I said pop culture to current events. In my mind (when writing) I was thinking about my friend not knowing about this broadway show called Hamilton. In ny, it’s pretty much impossible to not know about this show unless you have your head in a hole. I didn’t mean the tabloid stuff

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