I am officially old.
OK, maybe not old, but I’m no longer young.
I know this because children in my house say things like “bruh,” and I have to look up whether this is something the kids say these days.
The kids also watch things on YouTube I’ve never heard of, like JoJo Siwa, who is the embodiment of a Lisa Frank coloring book. In one video, she’s dressed head to toe in sparkles and rainbows. I might have loved her as a tween — it’s hard to say, partially because I don’t think the word tween had been coined then.
And I can’t understand why anyone would watch a live stream of someone else playing a video game. I spent plenty of time playing video games with friends back when you went to each other’s houses to play because online play wasn’t quite a thing yet. Playing was alright. Watching them play when I wasn’t was dull.
I also know I’m no longer young because I’ve had to ask younger co-workers whether kids still play video games together in person (the answer is maybe every once in a while but not much).
I started at The Times when I was 21. My co-workers made fun of me for not knowing names like Hank Williams and Humphrey Bogart. I used to spend inordinate amounts of time combing through the celebrity birthdays feature on page 2 of The Times to ensure I didn’t leave out someone really important I’d never heard of.
Now, I can make fun of those 10 years younger than me for the things they don’t know. But then there are the things they do know that I don’t. And to be fair, I recently pronounced Pharrell wrong to an older copy editor who laughed in my face. In case you don’t know, Pharrell Williams sings that song “Happy,” which came out just a few years ago. And it’s pronounced fuh-rel.
In that moment, perhaps no one was assuming I’m any younger than my birth date suggests. But for all of my life people have assumed I am younger than I actually am. As a high schooler, people thought I was in middle school. As a college student, they thought I was in high school. As a full-time professional journalist, they thought I was an intern. It’s been annoying.
I know in the grand scheme of things, I’m not old now.
I’m sure some of you gasped at my ignorance of music and movie icons of decades past.
And it’s pop culture references telling me I’m old rather than aching joints and fading eyesight — which by all accounts probably means I’m not old at all.
In any case, many folks older than me likely act younger than I do. For example, my parents text me videos while out at concerts way more often than I ever do the same.
Some say age is just a number. I think there’s a bit more to it than that as far as generational differences, but as I turn 35, I will happily accept assumptions that I am younger than I am. Just don’t ask me to act like I’m 20-something.
At 35 I don’t have to pretend like it’s fun to go to a movie at midnight. And no one expects me to drive an hour to play video games or sit on my couch until the wee hours wearing a headset and shooting at something on a screen.
I’m asleep by 10 p.m., and that’s OK with me. I know who I am. I can embrace it. Talk to me again in five years, but I think the 30s age bracket is pretty great.
Shannon Casas is editor in chief of The Times and a foster parent. Her column publishes on Sundays.