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Age is just a number, growth is not.

The worse panic attack I have had in my life was in 2017. Myself, Monica and Cindy had closed from lectures and we were on our way back to our hostel. We were having a conversation and Monica said to Cindy, “You deɛ, you are the youngest of us all but you have no respect and regard for us. W’ano denden”. Immediately Monica said those words, my heart began to beat fast and I looked sternly at Cindy but I knew it wasn’t going to stop her. “Who told you I am the youngest? Is it my body deceiving you? Ella is the youngest.“

Monica let out a laugh “see this one oo, Ella is turning 22 this September. Are you still not 20?” “Who is turning 22? We are all turning 21”. She came to look at me waiting for me to challenge Cindy. A few weeks before that incident happened, I went to the bank with Cindy and I saw her trying to take a sneak peek at my documents. After all the months of being friends, I still avoided the age conversation but on that day, I allowed her to satisfy her curiosity. I didn’t make any attempt to cover it, she saw everything. I knew it was my age she was looking for but I guess I was tired of hiding.

Our parents had this look of disappointment they dished out every time we messed up and it was worse than the ones they had when they were angry. It was filled with pain and anguish and almost regret. That is how she looked; utterly disappointed and embarrassed… I can’t describe how ashamed I felt when Monica changed the subject. It felt like I had betrayed her. I didn’t lie to her, I just never told her my age, I allowed her to assume.

I got sick for so many days and got so angry at Cindy. Angry at Cindy because it was not her place to tell. How was I to explain to them that I was having a panic attack, I couldn’t decipher so I said I was sick. I had not grasped the concept yet.

Somehow Monica forgave me (or never brought it up) and we moved on. This is where I pause and say a massive thank you to Monica. A lot of people ask why I am always talking about Monica. Sometimes you only learn to love yourself when you have experienced love and what it could look like. I talk about her so much because she is a good friend. I am my best self now because I am learning to be the friend Monica is to me to myself. She shows grace in friendship and I am forever thankful for that.

Dear Monica,

Thank you so much for staying when I gave you had every reason to leave. You could have written me off as a toxic friend but you stayed and loved me through the worse days of my life. I love you so much, gurl

your forever friend.
Age is just a number, Growth is not. Image credit: Rawpixel

After that incident, I realized just how much my age had me crippled with fear. It is one insecurity I knew about but failed to admit because I wasn’t sure if I was ready to or capable of dealing with it.
I was always told I was too young to matter so I wanted to grow up so fast. By some divine intervention, my body became bigger than my age. That is when I stopped saying my age. I got to hang out with people way older than me because they thought I was their age mate. To fit in, I started speaking like them and acting like them. I always lost friends when they got to know me: my real age. Suddenly, I wasn’t the right person to have certain conversations with or to go certain places with.


I have lived with that fear so much that it has robbed me of my nows. Year 18 was a big year for me (you were literally an adult) and right after that age, I was back chasing the next big number. I have always acted tough on the outside (well since 2018), but on the inside, I shrunk when it came to anything age-related. Never felt old enough or responsible enough for anything. Years filed pass as though my life were a corpse, another year will come and go and I will cry about being left behind or not doing enough.

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

1 Timothy 4:12

I have spent the last year fighting to break the hold this age paranoia has on me. Darkness reigns only in the absence of light. For it to lose its power over me, I figured I should start from coming out of the dark. I also needed to change my view about the relevance of age. Thinking critically led me to conclude that, age is just a number, growth is not.

Recently a friend called me generation z with a sense of disgust. I had never considered myself that but I liked being that. Generation Z, an era where sharing your life was not too foreign. I love that you actually could if you wanted to. I love that I was born in an era that has so much enhancement with our way of life. It’s a pleasure to be here, right at this moment. I told myself, I am not a mistake.

Who I am has nothing to do with my age but everything to do with the knowledge I gather as I grow and how I apply them. It’s of little wonder we have “old fools” on this earth. I presume they only concentrated on advancing in age without letting their experiences in life teach them lessons or perhaps they fail to learn. Instead of fretting about the number of years I have lived on this earth, I would rather work towards learning and growing. Age equals the length of time a person has lived whereas growth is developing or maturing. Growth takes intentionality, commitment and consistency. Growth is work.

Dear Afiya,

I see you. How the world has somehow convinced you that you are stupid or senseless for being young. I see it and I am sorry that they made you feel that way but girl, you are not. You are a masterpiece made at the right time to serve humanity. There is nothing amidst when it comes to you. God had a plan for you when he decided that you will be born on the 13th of September 1996. You are not a mistake. Who you were born to, what time you were born, the era and dispensation in which you were born, all of it. Divinely orchestrated by the Almighty God.

I have seen firsthand how you have taken circumcumstances life has thrown at you and how you have learnt from them gracefully. It’s beautiful, it’s inspiring, it’s admirable.

He knew this generation would need you. God knew you will be relevant now. He created you with just the right talents and personality for the purpose he wanted to use you for in this era. Do not let anyone despise your youth. You were made for this. Your generation needs you. You are here for a reason. I pray you to leave fear behind, that you live your life to the fullest, void of fear and panic. I pray that you find and reinvent yourself as many times as needed. You are going to make God proud. I am rooting for you, sis. You’ve got this.

Show up as you are, those who need to have you in their life will. Those who think you age is a problem don’t derserve you. And always remember, age is just a number, growth is not.

With love, El

I pray that I can walk in the fullness of Christ regardless of my age. I am excited to see how the next phase of my life pans out. Anticipating greatness and fulfilment. I am beginning to look at myself with a new lens now. The lens of a 25-year-old who matters.

Is this something that you identify with? How did you deal with it? Leave a comment

Next up. Life as a 25-year-old.

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