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By Missy O
Everybody in Nigeria always wants to know your age. When you are identified with how old or young you are it determines the way you would be treated. In business, education, relationship, and so on, age is a determining factor in how well you relate with another person. But does it really matter? Do you need to know your boss’s age before you show him or her respect? Do you need to know the age of a friend before you can truly express yourself with them? Do you need to know the age of a person you like so that dating can be better? Does this number of years you have lived in this world really matter? And I say a simple answer: NO. Age should only explain to people the time you have spent being alive but it does not deter the experience you have. I will give you a couple of examples and you decide which is which. The boss of a company that I know is much younger than most of the employees. He inherited the company from his father, who gained a ton of respect from the employees while he ran the company. Now that the son runs it, it has become a task for some people. Half of those who give him the respect he deserves as their boss. They flounced his orders, sometimes he gets sneered at and that turned him arrogant towards his employees. He started to deal with them harshly and the respect (face value) came.  His age had a lot to do with it because when he says something, the response gotten would be “who is he to talk to me like that, after all we are not mates.” But in this situation is age the point? He is their boss and no matter what should be respected. So no age doesn’t matter here at all. This also affects relationships in Nigeria. People believe that the older you are the more experience you have and the mature you are as well. I say that is false. A few people do not cross maturity with age. To some people, they are on totally parallel lines. I believe it is all about the mind and how mature you are rather than age. An old roommate of mine, her mother started a relationship with a younger man. The hope of them getting married was slim but the feelings they had for each other was genuine. Now she had decided to leave him because she was older and it wouldn’t be approved but he insisted they go ahead. When she was taken to the parents, they refused. The reason is because since she was older she would use that to her advantage and control him. In other words, the older you are the more your control license is approved. They got married at the end and my ex-roommate was their first child. His parents literally stated that with the age difference, he would not wear the pants in the family and this mentality is a sad one. If a person is not naturally controlling, why would age difference be the factor for the “controlling spirit” to appear? They have been together for over 25 years meaning whatever it is that they have is working. If we as Nigerians always have to show respect based on the age of the person, I fear for our younger ones because they will never be respected. Every human should be shown respect. A teacher has no right to disrespect a student simply because they are older. An employee has no right to disrespect a boss because they are older. Respect they say begets respect. If you respect yourself, everyone that comes in contact with you would respect you despite your age. If age is always a factor to do anything then the sky can never be your limit because you have already broken the ladder to get you to the sky by half. To all those who love younger women or men, don’t let age deter you from your feelings. It is the least of your worry. To those employees looking down on their young boss, they have a direct hand into your salary at the end of the month. Don’t forget that. Age doesn’t ever matter except for official reasons like the law. Experience and maturity really determines your age.  

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This article was first published on 14th May 2012

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