On the tail-end of my birthday, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we talk about age not only in the literary community but in all of our communities.
Often, we say things like “Wow, she published her first poem at 17” or “He published three books by 16” as if either of these things is somehow more valuable, more impressive than if the person had been 27, 37, or heck 107.
What’s more worrying is that, as people age, we begin to normalize their achievement. Milestones are no longer treated as “surprising” or “special” so much as they’re treated as “normal” and “expected.” It’s wonderful that someone else has figured out their passions young, but that doesn’t mean we all have to. Or that all of us had the social and economic means to.
The rhetoric around age needs to change, not soon, but now. Let’s celebrate everyone equally — with warmth and enthusiasm.