In less than a month, I will be 40 years old.
In my early 30s, I took away my date of birth from social media and from my CV.
The reason behind this was that I worried about being regarded as "past my prime", especially for hiring committees. It took me a while to get funding for my PhD and then it took me a while to get a second PhD, as well as several postdoc positions. I also had two children. My partner was the primary caregiver for both through their early years, so I only took a few months off for each birth. Still, this all takes time--and time goes on inexorably.
In the past I could not help thinking, "By age 40, I should..."
- Have a permanent job, check. Still, what is permanent these days?
- Bought house, nope. Too expensive.
- Published a paper in one of the top-3 philosophy journals, nope. (I should start writing in a different way and actually submit to these things, so it doesn't seem to be that big a priority). Etc.
We use age as a measuring-rod, a series of checkpoints that we should have reached. Seeing younger people getting all sorts of accolades and accomplishments fills us with gladness for them, but also amps up our insecurity, as if we're missing the targets we need to hit. A bit like looking at the ultrasound of a gestating fetus, there are these set checkpoints that we evaluate ourselves by. By age x I surely should have accomplished y. Otherwise, there's a problem.