So This Was Interesting: I'm 24 but My Telomeres Say I'm 52



Aging is a funny thing. A gray hair here, a lost set of keys there—that burgeoning wrinkle between our eyebrows. From youth, we're taught and frightened into understanding, observing, and accepting the term "aging" as deterioration—a "lessening" that takes place in an outwardly physical manner and benchmarked by such stigmatized symptoms as a nuanced mark of pigmentation or something as benign as the suppleness or sag to our face.

We've instilled a fear of the exterior signs of aging, but are we truly scared of aging, itself? We know what it "looks" like (though we've been taking some serious issue with this lately) but how about what aging feels like? For instance, if I had to guess, a wrinkly knee might more likely invite disdain and condemnation than a rickety one, so on and so forth. And while yes, I realize that's an unlikeable generalization, I'd be surprised if it turned out to be all that inaccurate.

When I look around, I see a world that's transfixed with aging on an astonishingly superficial level, and I'll be the first to admit I've actively contributed. Over the years, I'd cozied up to the notion that my age in every sense of the word—biologically, cellularly, and physically (appearance-wise)—would line up like a neat queue of dominoes. Once one fell, sayonara, they'd all go, and I'd accepted that. 

So, never once did I expect to find myself in a real-life Benjamin Button–esque situation—a movie that I love, yes, but an existence that I want? Hard pass. And though this has the makings for 20-page biology report, I'll try to keep it simple: My telomeres (aka the protective caps found on the ends of my chromosomes) are significantly shorter than they should be, or at least, what one would expect them to be at my ripe young age of 24. The elephant in the room: According to my telomere length—and from the inside looking out—I'm 52. Confused? So was I. Keep reading for a look into telomeres, my results, and the interesting takeaway.