Friday, August 6, 2010

Is Younger Better?

I was watching the Today show this morning when a segment came on about "emotional age." The editor of Self Magazine was plugging a book she had written about being emotionally young even if your birth certificate says you're not. The segment intrigued me enough that I went to the website and used the handy dandy emotional age calculator.

Click here for the magazine article and here for the calculator.

According to the calculator, my emotional age is 33.6. My birth certificate says I'm a smidge older than that. (Okay, more than a smidge, but who's counting?) My first reaction is to say "Yay! I feel younger than my age!"

But what does that really mean?

Instead of asking you questions and assigning a value to your responses, the calculator simply asks you how old you feel when it comes to different aspects of your life. It's up to you to be honest in your answers.

My problem wasn't dishonestly. I simply didn't know what the honest answer was. For instance, the first category is Career. You're supposed to plug in a number that represents how old you feel in your career. I had no idea what to put there. I still feel energized when a new set of kids comes into my classroom, but I also feel older and wiser and a better manager of both instruction and behavior. So what number do I put there? And then there is the second career I'm working on. As a writer, I feel like I'm still growing and learning, and I'm definitely a newbie to the publishing world.

The program doesn't allow for WTF as a response. I ended up putting my actual age in that box. I was trying to be honest, but I have no idea if it was the correct response.

The second box was Finances. I left a more lucrative career 15 years ago to be a teacher. Money is always an issue. As long as my boys are on the family payroll, it will continue to be an issue. So does that make me old or young in the finances category? I put a low number here because it seems like someone my actual age should be more financially stable. This brought my overall emotional age down, but it's not something I'm bragging about.

Family was the next box. I put a number higher than my actual age. My teenage boys made me old this year. If you've raised teenagers, I don't need to elaborate.

The Fitness box worked in my favor. My Jazzercise obsession makes me feel younger in this aspect of my life. I've lost weight. I feel physically fit, and I even eat healthier. I answered this box without a was the only box I answered without a struggle.

I have no idea if the number in the Social box is accurate. I have a core group of friends I love. We have a blast when we're together. I'm not a fuddy duddy who sits around the house never doing anything. At the same time, I'm not a barhopping party girl. I put a number very close to my actual age.

The last box was Style. What does that mean in terms of age? I've met fabulously stylish older women and young women who have none. I know who I am when I'm shopping, not frumpy, but not ultra-hip either. They seriously needed a WTF option on this quiz. Again, I put a number close to my actual age.

All of which brings us back to my aggregate emotional age...33.6. The two categories that dropped the average lower than my actual age were Finances and Fitness. I'm happy about the one and resigned to the other, so I'm calling it a wash.

If you take the quiz and your emotional age is lower than your actual age, examine the data. Think about why. I don't think younger is necessarily better. Sure, we would all like to have the bodies of our 20 year old selves, but do we really want the emotional maturity of our 20 year old selves?

I don't. I couldn't write anything worth reading. I see the years I've accumulated as good thing most of the time. I like being confident in myself and my choices, and I just wasn't when I was younger.

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