Blog, Reflecting

Not Just Another Number

40While working on writing assignments for the upcoming English composition class I’m teaching this fall, I came across a writing prompt that I found peculiar, yet intriguing. Former students of mine can attest to the fact that the more peculiar I find something, the more I want to explore it.

 So, my exploring begins. The prompt read: “How old would you be if you didn’t know your real age?”

 Don’t worry. I’m not going to bore you with a cliché-ish response such as “You are only as old as you feel.” That’s crap. You know why?

  • Because we ALL know exactly how old we are
  • Because as a society, we HAVE to have a black and white answer to everything, including age
  • Because we wouldn’t be able to throw people into categories, labels or stereotypes without the answer, right?

 That simple little number is an evil Scarlet Letter for all of us, whether young, old, or in-between. Because of age,sweet-16 people are judged, stereotyped, mistreated, dismissed, and denied opportunities; because of age, people are physically compared to others in the same “age” range; because of age, people are categorized, grouped into the behavior patterns of the boomer, X, Y or Z generation; and because of age, no one really gets to know anyone else.

We shy away from those younger than us, dismissing their naïve dreams or roll our eyes at our elders, the ones that “think” they know it all. In reality, we have become a snotty nation obsessed with age as the key factor in defining a person.

So, no, I refuse to answer the prompt and I refuse to use it in my composition class. I’m not telling my age – not because I’m ashamed, not because I’m too young or too old, but because I want people to get to know who I am without judging me based on my age.

I’m a person, not a number.


– Shannon Philpott
Blog Entry: July 19, 2009

© Shannon Philpott, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Shannon Philpott and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



2 thoughts on “Not Just Another Number”

  1. Shannon – I love this! I have a friend that has this mind frame too. When she met her now husband, she didn’t want to know his age, because she didn’t want to base how she felt about him on that so she didn’t ask until she knew for sure. He’s over 10 years older than her! They are so happy together and have an awesome life. This post made me think of her!

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