But honestly people, I know we debate about whether life begins at conception, life begins at birth, or like The Onion says life begins at 40! I believe it begins at the age of 24.
That's what I decided the magic age is. Maybe it corresponds to the year you get out of college... but when I was 26 or so, I realized I just could not date 23-year-olds. They were dumbasses. We're all kinda stupid but 23 year olds were stupid on a different level. They were safe to interact with in the office but anything more than that made me a little nervous and I just wanted to pat them on the head and say it's okay child, you'll figure it out.
In my own life 24 was when I stopped dating guys who were over-needy, confused about handling my freedom or resentful of my intelligence. 25 was when I volunteered in that big gay rights campaign because I'd gained a little political awareness.
For almost ten years, I think I have been myself. At least, the version I'm okay with.
Don't get me wrong there were cool things about me at 12, 16, 19, 22. But there were enough stupid things too that I wish I could write myself some letters. I wouldn't write any cautionary letters back to my 27-year-old self.
In middle school, I hated all middle schoolers, it was just a stupid age. I could admit that even though I WAS a middle schooler. This feeling decreased linearly over time until about the age of 23 when I had a lingering feeling that I was probably screwing some stuff up still, but that I'd survive, and I did.