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I read an essay by a woman named Nisha Chittal called, “Why I Never Tell Anyone My Age.

It’s not a super-complicated piece of writing, but it’s also not very good. Throughout the essay, the reader is told that society doesn’t know what to do with a woman’s age. When you share your age, people judge you. And if someone knows your birthdate, he has the power to measure you against an invisible set of benchmarks that you don’t control.

So, yeah, I’m not buying it. It’s the same argument against wage transparency. If you tell people how much you earn, they might try to undermine you or rig the system to benefit themselves and not you.

It turns out that everybody judges everyone. And it also happens to be true that people are super bad at processing complex and nuanced topics. If you try to guess how much your boss and colleagues are earning, there’s a big chance that you’re wrong. Statistically, you’ll wildly overestimate your boss and underestimate your peers. (Or do I have that flipped? I can’t remember because I’m old.)

But the bigger point is that the way you break stereotypes and clarify complex issues is to talk about those issues. Tell people the truth and use yourself as an example.

When I stand on stage, I almost always tell people my age. It’s not because I like to brag about being a middle-aged woman. In fact, being a middle-aged woman is hard. I tell people my age because I don’t know what 42 looks like, and if I don’t know, other people don’t know. Let’s clear this up. You can help me. Tell everybody your age. Don’t apologize for it, either.

I also talk about weight with friends and family members. I don’t have a good sense of what a number means, and a lot of people walk around feeling bad about their bodies for no goddamn reason. Here’s the deal: I weigh 131.6 pounds, I can do 50 push-ups, and I’m about to haul my body up a skyscraper. Here’s some breaking news on my weight: I can’t fit into my XS yoga pants, anymore. Guess what? Crisis averted, I bought some new yoga pants. Life is good.

I’m also a huge proponent of sharing my salary as a human resources professional, a consultant, and as an entrepreneur. Right now, my software makes zero money. I have no income coming in from GlitchPath. I’m not sure when I’ll have money coming in from the project. Being an entrepreneur is really hard.

So here’s how life works, my friends: It’s impossible to prevent someone from judging you, but you can control your stories. Share your information on your terms, de-escalate hostile responses, and stop giving a fuck when someone tries to shame you.

And when someone like Ms. Chittal tells you not to share her age, ignore that bad piece of advice and bless her heart for being so young and naive.

Wait, how do I know she’s young? Because she’s listed #30under30 in her Twitter bio. Of course. It’s okay to share your age when you’re young and braggy!

6 Responses to Tell Everybody Your Age
  1. GenerationXpert

    45

  2. Renae

    Love this piece. I’m just gonna be over here being 38 for about 4 more months. I’m good with is. Not as comfortable on the weight thing but I also don’t care if others thing I’m too heavy. Once I decided I am just me and that’s ok – it was very freeing. Thanks for the great read today!

  3. Ken Moir

    Well said! As I teeter on the brink of what I hope will be my “spry” years, I care less and less what other people think about my biometrics. The work I do matters. The difference I make in other people’s lives matters. The story I create each new day matters. But my graying hair, crows’ feet and gravity-assisted silhouette don’t matter at all — to the people whose opinions I respect and whose judgment I trust.

  4. Susanne Witteborg

    I am 57. I have always shared my ago without a second thought. It takes a long time to get to be as awesome as me!

    Now, my weight? None of your damn business. I mean, no one is going to look at me and be shocked to find out I can’t fit into a size XS.

  5. Rachael

    I am 48 Laurie and, like you, I refer to it all the time – it is what it is and I will be who I am regardless of the number – what you want to do with that says more about you than it does about me… ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Will Thomson

    I absolutely love this.. And.. I love your style. Being an entrepreneur is hard, but damn I love it. Oh and yea- 42 is not middle aged in my book since I am right there with you (44).