Young (wo)man take a look at my face, I’m a lot like you

If you remember the Neil Young song “Old Man” then you’ll know what I’m talking about when I mangle those famous

If you remember the Neil Young song “Old Man” then you’ll know what I’m talking about when I mangle those famous lyrics.

I’m talking about that look you get when a very young adult mistakes your slight pause while remembering your PIN for dementia. Or the patronising smile of someone who assumes you’re enjoying lunch in a trendy restaurant because it’s a milestone birthday. Like, 90 or something.

It’s the bridling you feel along your spine when someone refers to your date with your husband as “cute”, or the blush on young cheeks when they comment about someone “really old” then realise you are, in fact, far older than the person of which they speak.

Look at my face, young lady. What do you see? A dotty old lady? A woman who looks good…. for her age? Your own terrifying future?

Because, my dear, the rub is: I was young once too. And I have done great things. I have also done stupid things, and that’s even more reason I don’t require your pity, your fear, or your dismissal.

You think you know everything – or at least everything that is relevant and useful in today’s world. I’m sorry to say that, if you’d bothered to pay attention to literary history, you’d realise that life is simply the same old stories, on repeat.

If I told you the truth about my life  – or if you bothered to ask – you’d be shocked because you can’t imagine me as young. All you see is the lines on my face, the grey at my roots and someone who comes from a different generation, which may as well be a different planet.

Imagine if I told you about the adventures I had, the people I’ve met, the period where I smuggled contraception into France and dated a future politician! But why bother? Some truths are left unsaid. And anyway, you know better than me.

Don’t dismiss me, young person. Because you’re the one who’s missing out. I have wisdom to share; if I only thought you’d listen.

I’m not an “old person”, we’ve done away with that term. “We” meaning my generation. The one that fought for everything you take for granted. Enjoy it; I don’t need your thanks.

“Old” means nothing to me – even if it means a lot to you.

I have goals, I have dreams, I have ambitions. In other words, I’m a lot like you. And I’m not done yet.

Got something to say to young people? Get it off your chest here!


  1. No I really don’t have anything to add, i know what I did was good/brave/useful. I don’t expect anyone, without the wisdom of life themselves, to take an interest in my past.

  2. From my experience it is not all young people who are rude and dismissive, just the selfish ones who have no respect for anyone other than themselves. It’s all in the up bringing!

  3. Young people think we were born old, they don’t ever think they will get old themselves our wonderful carefree years of being young seem to go on forever. It is only as you start to hit your 40’s and 50 that it hits you, hey I might be starting to get older. We as older people need to be patient and will be your turn soon

  4. May I quote the brilliant writer Diana Athill, who said that you must never expect the young to want your company “Enjoy whatever they are generous enough to offer, and leave it at that”.
    Good advice that I try to take. And my late father-in-law used to say ” You can’t put an old head on young shoulders “

  5. I do ok with the young, it seems like yesterday that I was young myself, I still am in my soul at least.

  6. it is not an uncommon phenomemon…lol….Remember back to when we were young….I had similiar thoughts about older people….if we are honest with ourselves ….lol….that is where Karma stepped in….and it will for them as well…I would like to think we all got smarter as we get even older….when young, we thought we knew everything….probably was a bit patronising to the old Aunts etc….only to find out that now I know less than I thought I did…lol

  7. The politicians do not help our cause they infer we are bludgers who waste resources that can be used elsewhere

  8. I love being around the young people, I learn so much from them. If I’m invisible, it’s probably because I haven’t made myself heard. I have the wisdom, if they ask, I’ll offer. If I’m disrespected, they still have lots to learn. Their days coming…

  9. I was still nursing in my late 50’s. We had a 95 year old Chinese patient in the ward. The young nurses were saying the lady never talked. I was showering her one day and told her about my unusual childhood. She told me she had been adopted by NZ missionaries. Her parents had begged them to keep her as she was always sick. Turned out she was the first woman to train as a doctor in NZ and had lived a very interesting life. When I told the nurses her story, they were amazed. She hadn’t told them anything. I asked if they had ever talked to her. They looked blank. Of course they hadn’t. She was old. So many interesting stories the oldies could tell the young people if only they would listen.

    • Angie B  

      What a lovely story, Jean. Thank you for sharing that.

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