Dear 100 Hour Board,
I'm a 21 year old female who recently submitted her mission papers. I would have gone earlier, but it never felt like the right time before. I'm definitely excited, and I know it's what I'm supposed to be doing right now, but I'm also a little scared. And even though all sister missionaries used to be over 21, I'm a little worried that I'm gunna stick out now among all these 18 and 19 year olds. It is kind of weird to see so many of my friends coming home from their missions when I'm just about to head out.
Do any of you RMs or non RM's have any advice? Are there still some older missionaries serving out there among all the youngins? Have you known anyone that's done this? And though I know it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks, will I get looked at weird for leaving on my mission a little later?
- An Older Sister
My brother submitted his mission papers a few days before his 26th birthday (at which point he would not have been allowed to submit). Days before he left he was awarded a masters degree (having already gotten two undergraduate degrees). I would say that people noticed the difference, because, well it was really obvious. Your age difference is not nearly as drastic and there's a good chance that few people will even notice. That said, the extra time will mean that you have a set of experiences that younger sisters don't have and that might make you stand out. However, from what I can tell of my brother's mission, those experiences and additional maturity that he had made him an asset to the people around him. They appreciated him for the what he was instead of judging him on the basis of his age. Whatever you bring to the table as a missionary gets used, so coming with that much more knowledge and experience can only work for the betterment of you, your companions, and your mission.
The Man with a Mustache
If it makes you feel better, I couldn't tell you how old any of the sisters in my zones were. Now that I'm back and people's birthday's show up on Facebook I've been surprised to see their ages. I really couldn't tell the difference between those who were 19 and those who were 24. You might feel a little weird at first, but there's nothing really weird about it. I've had amazing experiences with 18 year old companions and 25 year old companions. I'm sure that if you'll do your best you'll be an awesome mission. Good luck on your mission! Hope this helps.
I went on my mission well after the age change, and all but one of my companions were 21 or older (I think the oldest was 24). I don't know if that's a typical experience, but I can tell you that I didn't think any less of any of those companions, and it didn't make our companionship weird at all. You'll be fine. Serving a mission is terrifying for all sorts of reasons, but don't let worrying about your age be one of them. It's awesome that you're doing what you feel prompted to do, even though you may not be at the "typical" age. You go, girl! And good luck on your mission; you're going to be amazing.
I had a 34-year-old sister in my district, and she was one of my favorite missionaries. This was 6 years ago, but I still don't think an age difference, especially of just a couple years, will be that big of a deal. I had a companion who was 25 (an elder), and I didn't think anything of it. He was my favorite companion, in fact. It will probably only be weird if you make it weird.
We had quite a few older missionaries in my mission. It came up every once and a while but not too much. It usually came up when we would say "Dang. Sister So-and-So is amazing. Why is she so much more mature than us?" and then someone would say "Well. She is 26. So there's that." and then everything made sense. We definitely looked up to those sisters and desperately needed their experience. Missionaries can get weird ideas from the culture. They become borderline superstitious and sensationalist. Older missionaries helped to temper them and keep everyone's heads on straight. Thanks for serving. Think of your age as an advantage not to be lorded over anyone.