Ageism: "Younger than Thee” Syndrome

Aug 13 , 2022
By Eden Sahle

I often meet many young people at conferences, restaurants, or family gatherings. Some are in their twenties; others are in their early thirties. Mostly, they both have some insecurity about their age. Listening to them sends a message that they are oversized toddlers. Those in their twenties consider themselves children, and those in their thirties desperately find someone to whom they can say, “I am younger than thee.”

Nothing is more tiring than listening to such chatter that mocks others' age – ageism. After spending a few minutes in such gatherings, it becomes clear how their life values and judgment are distorted. Some parents even shave a few years when they tell someone about the age of their children as if they are doing them a favour.

People in their twenties assume that they are children who are still growing. They consider anyone older than them to be doomed and disadvantaged and the subject of laughter. Meanwhile, they envy those younger. Those in their thirties do the same to someone older than them.

Gone are the days when age was considered a mark of wisdom and maturity. Young people these days take their fleeting current age as a bedrock of their pride. As the numbers change, their despair increases. They think they are too young to be thinking of the next steps in life and careers that can help them craft the foundation for their future. Once they feel like they have gotten older, they think it is all over.

Age is misunderstood. It is a blessing to be cherished, not be ashamed of and shame others. We are all ageing, every second. No matter how young we think we are today, there will be time when we are old – if we are lucky and the unthinkable does not happen. Every age is for us to explore ceaselessly. To discover our purpose in life and to determine what we do with our time. To learn from those who came before us so that we can avoid the same mistake or even do better than they did.

We should never be comfortable at our age. Our life's driving force should not be the number we are in at the moment. Our focus should be less on the number and more on developing strategies to help us navigate the endless complexity of life. The sooner we realise we do not remain young forever, the faster we will learn to make use of our time effectivity.

Young people should develop more profound and thoughtful values than taking pride in age, something all of us have done nothing to gain. We are all obliged to create who we will be irrespective of our age. Basing our identities, values and ambitions on age is a never-ending treadmill that will get us nowhere. People can find enormous meaning in life at any time of their lives on earth.

We all go from childhood to adolescence, and adulthood to whatever society considers old age at the time we reach it. It is what we do once we reach adulthood that creates the difference. The older we get, the more our perception of time speeds up. We learn years go by faster without us realising it.

In this life, combine ignorance and the delusion to remain young, and it will bring destruction and despair that worsens by the year. Adulthood is about solidifying who we are and want to become; if this is the case, then age is nothing but a number. They are not reliant on their age because they know it is going away sooner than anticipated.

Only those who are wasting their life can tell us that adding years to our life and growing old is a disadvantage. Growing old is an adventure. If we take being a child further into adulthood, the result will bring only confusion. Such people wake up one day realising they have never used their time and wonder where their years went.

Living by the universal principle of life is essential because we must eventually realise that our time on this planet is limited. We should spend it on things that matter the most than presenting ourselves as the youngest of others. We must admit that life is short, and we do not have ample seasons as we might expect to pursue our dreams, even while using them effectively, let alone while wasting them. Our age is not a source of pride but an assignment to fulfil each year.

PUBLISHED ON Aug 13,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1163]

Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law with a focus on international economic law. She can be reached at

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