Re: unfair belt rankings
It's all good, for some there is merit without skill, and for others (such as yourself) there is skill without merit, I think this is what Jeanne was trying to say (hint).
First, consider the amount of schooling/life experience these older albeit newer people come into the dojo with. They have had those years to learn how to learn, and they may pick concepts up more readily, at first . She isn't a 2nd degree blue like yourself, and by time she is, you may be ready to rank yet again, if you haven't already.
On the other hand, A bit of patience has to happen as well, physiologically speaking. You've been doing aikido with equipment you're used to for the last 5 years, and that equipment is changing. Psychologically your concern is valid, for your point in life. We all have to experience that hastiness before we learn to chill out a bit.
And finally look on the bright side, you could be me, 27 and only one of those years spent in aikido. At least as far as aikido goes, I am tremendously envious of you. Think of where you'll be when you reach the age of this new gal, or even my age!
Have a good weekend, hope this helped