Should Age Define Us?
Growing up is part of life, but seeing yourself through the eyes of others is never an easy feat. You may notice people treating you differently as you age, and that's to be expected. However, the problem is that some people only treat you based on their preconceived notions of your age demographic at any given time.
In a library case study, a teenage student did not know why a librarian he'd known since childhood was suddenly treating him like they had never met before. This boy was a well-behaved, well-adjusted high school student supposedly on good terms with this woman, and she just glared at him like he was no different than someone who would cause trouble. It turned out well in the end - the librarian had just been having a rough day or didn't recognize him at first among the troublemakers his age who'd been by earlier - but it makes you think. Even people who know you on even a casual basis can judge you based on your age (actual or perceived since some people look younger or older than they really are).
We all reach stages in our lives where we have to change part of who we are, but that does not mean we have to change everything about ourselves. Despite the societal and individual expectations impressed upon us (some necessary and others arbitrary), we should be able to figure out what we value about ourselves most and remain true to those core values and beliefs even as we grow older. People will still judge you based on appearance, age, or even character traits they don't happen to like, among other things, but when that happens you can step back and assess the situation within reason. We all have room to grow, but it can't be forced. Neither hearts nor minds can be changed overnight. Perception is reality, and while that may often be unfair, you can always try to make your true self shine through.