Common grounds - A project about acting age appropriate
Words and images by Luis Nogueria.
When asked by someone else, most of the time I don't remember my age. I always have to stop to think. Sometimes I answer: “27… No! 28, it’s 28”, then I look at my friends and ask “it is 28 right?”
Age has only mattered to me when it is related to career achievements; especially with some preconceptions that I had (and still do) about what I was supposed to be doing at different times of my life. I do think it does change what people think about me. It's related to this idea that you should be acting or behaving in a certain way, at a certain age and what sort of things and achievements you have to show - where I work, what I do with my free time, what I do for fun and what things I own. We live in a society obsessed with personal and professional achievements and we often forget that the way we see what an achievement is, depends on our background, education and personal experiences.
"Ageing is a constant learning process which can then be translated into practical things, like in this case, maintaining a healthy relationship."
Growing up is a personal experience; incomparable and non-transferable! There is no right way of doing it. There is only YOUR way of doing it because that is the one that works, for you. I think there is a difference between people that I know and people I have just met. The difference, for me, is when I meet someone who asks how old I am. It is one of the questions I hate the most. I feel it is going to lead to a specific first impression and from that moment on, I feel the need to act according to whatever I previously answered. It feels like someoneis profiling me.
About my closest friends? I mostly don't know their exact age. There is so much more to talk about, that it doesn't matter! I feel they are really complex (in a good way), with layered personalities. So, I don't feel the need to put a number on them. Sometimes, it's hard for me to detach my mind from stupid concerns about what I should do next with my life. Life goals, timings, achievements, career and so on, even if I know it does not make sense.
The thing that matters the most to me, at this moment, is my current relationship. Even though it is not related to age, it is related to maturity and time. Ageing is a constant learning process which can then be translated into practical things, like in this case, maintaining a healthy relationship. Spending time with people of all ages is really refreshing to me. Most of the people that I surround myself with are from an age range close to mine and we usually share the same sort of cultural references and experiences. But, on the other hand, it is really nice to talk to someone who can give you a completely different take on things, especially about life experience and skills. These things always come from different generations.
"It was truly gratifying to personally engage and understand that intergenerational work groups not only have a lot in common, they also have much to learn from their differences."
We think we can learn anything online and we often don't give enough value to peer-to-peer knowledge, which is the best way for us to communicate and learn. For my Final Major Project at Goldsmiths University I worked around this research question: 'How can I ease the pressure of having to act like an adult?' My research project addressed what it means to act like a grown up, diving into childlike behaviour in adults and the concept of ageism.
In my opinion, society does not allow us to play as adults. There is a dubious view on what may be age appropriate. Young adults may be judged for being too childish and older adults can be misjudged; being seen as less informed and incapable of learning new skills. Because of the judgmental ways in which we perceive adulthood, we never really feel comfortable within our age group. In my view, the lack of play in our everyday lives can lead to serious consequences and give rise to behavioural problems.
"Growing up is as a personal experience as it is uncomparable and non transferable to others. There is no right way of doing it. There is only YOUR way of doing it. That is the one that works."
My aim was to create a brand that could solve a specific problem. The result of this research project is Latro, a brand that offers a safe and private space for adult tantrums. Latro is a place where you are encouraged to express emotions and frustrations by screaming and/or breaking objects. We don’t patronise, we don’t pressure. We accept the worst in you. We provide you with a private space for you to behave the way you feel, without being judged.
What led me to pursue this field of study was my fascination with childish behaviour in adults and the reason why we engage in certain activities, behaviours or environments. I feel this is connected, more often than not, with our reaction to life’s expectations and the way we think we should behave, according to our age.
The major difference between the work I developed and the studies I have researched, is that most of them do not tackle the problem of age discrimination, when addressing temper tantrums. I believe this is part of the problem. We grow up with false expectations based on outdated values in an ever-changing society, which makes our emotional grounds even more vulnerable.
During my research I had the wonderful opportunity to share a lot with older and more experienced people than me. It was truly gratifying to personally engage and understand that intergenerational work groups not only have a lot in common, they also have much to learn from their differences.
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