Ongoing project “Age:” explores the relationship between age and identity, with the aim to challenge the widespread misconception that the number of our years and specific life experiences, skills and goals are correlated. The project is rooted in a participatory approach. Participants were asked to try and express how old they feel by writing down on a paper the experiences they think define their age, as well as to pick an object which they own and use although society stereotypically associates it with a different age group. The final outcome opens a discussion on whether age is a fair parameter to classify people.
how old are
“All the experiences we live shape who we are as a person and help us grow and learn to know ourselves better. I have always been curious and devoted during my studies and even more so after graduating. I just celebrated my 10th anniversary with my partner, with whom I have always had a close relationship. We cherish the time we spent together and all of our shared adventures.
For a few years now I have a job I like and I am passionate about, thanks to which I was quickly able to learn lots of new things.
Despite having lived various experiences and feeling like an adult, I am just starting to explore and face the challenges of adulthood.
I feel truly independent for the very first time. At the same time I also feel younger, with plenty of opportunities ahead to discover and new things to experiment. The only part of me that grew thanks to my past experiences to the point that it makes me feel older than my real age is a newfound sense of responsibility and the expectation of giving always the best in everything I do, especially at work.”
“I am at that stage in life when having finished university I am stepping into adulthood and have just started working. But I don't feel an adult yet, as at this age I have always imagined I would be married or soon to be. Even my face in the mirror looks the same as six years ago, making my patients' parents find it hard to believe I am already a doctor. But if I look back to my younger self, when I was going to start university, I realise that many things have changed: I moved away from my house in the Tuscan countryside where I lived with my parents to Rome; I changed many apartments and lived with different friends; I traveled, did an Erasmus in Spain and a traineeship in France; but most of all I studied, maybe too much. I was really focused into getting my degree and put a lot of effort in it, so that I could fulfill myself by helping others. However, I realised that I put aside many other aspects of life and sometimes relationships, perhaps losing a lot of good experiences while pursuing "a greater good". But I now realise that it’s not merely my effort that makes me who I am today but what I received through my successes and failures: the love of my family and friends, who transmitted me Faith and who, for me, are the concrete sign of God's love.”
“A spiderweb of wrinkles crawls on my body and on my heart but I'm the only one who can see them. I feel like an old and cynical widow, disappointed by life. Labor, hardship and disappointments have chased me but still I find myself tougher every time and willing to get where I want. When it comes to personal life, I feel like a teenager with a broken heart. Better things are yet to come but sometimes I can't believe it. I'm hungry to discover the world and get lost in all the lives which intersect, even incidentally, mine.”
“Travels and books; I think nothing could better define who I am and my age. I have been everywhere in Italy and across the Continental and Anglo-Saxon portions of Europe. I read 557 books. If Umberto Eco's famous words "reading is immortality backwards" are true, I am older than time itself. Travels and books are the only keys to open one's mind.
[Interlude: I am all but happy at my age ]
In a world where everybody owns a car getting around by bike at my age is together a revolutionary and a reactionary choice.”
“I spent the past few years studying to improve my education, forgetting about those important experiences people usually live in their twenties, when they are free from work constraints. That's why, pushed by the need of getting out after months of lockdown, I rediscovered something I had not being doing for a long while: traveling and exploring. I spent what was perhaps my best birthday in forever outdoors, jumping on a train at sunrise with a backpack and a straw hat on the way to a small village in Tuscany which I never had the chance to visit before. On the other hand, as a dear friend would say, I feel like an "ancient spirit". Looking back at the events that involved my family in the past few years and the lockdown spent at home alone I feel like I grew so much as a person.”
“I certainly don't think I have the age I do. It might be easier to start stating the experiences that "usually" define people my age and that I don't think I fit in, such as:
I don't have a house;
I'm not married;
I don't have savings;
I don't have a stable job;
I struggle to see myself as a woman (someone who takes care of herself and the house).
As you can see I think my brain easily connects age to what I'm lacking instead of focusing on my achievements. I guess I'm always feeling like I'm behind on things, especially because I've decided to change my career path quite later than when people usually do. The fact that I haven't yet come to terms with that certainly plays a role on me feeling so bad about my age and where I am at the moment. However, when I forget that a number exists to supposedly suggest at what stage I should be in my life, everything changes. I live my life as I want to, certainly judging myself less than I usually do. I guess I live experiences such as shifting my career, going back to university, learning something new, sleeping in, saving money for a trip rather than a house or baby utensils.”