Growing up, one of the “compliments” that I receive the most is “…but you’re so young!” (or a variant of some kind)
I received this comment ALL THE TIME every time I introduce my age or my birthday to someone. Pretty much, almost all of my friends, family members, coworkers, random people in my college classes have told me this, and I always give the same response: BECAUSE I AM.
At first I thought that this was just a simple comment complimenting me on my youth, but now that I am older, the phrase poses a whole new underlying meaning and intention. I feel like being called “so young” really translates to “your experience, dreams, aspirations, and basically everything about you, does not match your age.”
This is when I started to not take this comment lightly.
Being called “young” is not necessarily a terrible thing. It can be taken as a form of astonishment and admiration of the amount of maturity contained in someone of such a young age. At times, it can be flattering. However, being called “young” can be just as demoralizing as it is flattering.
The first time I received the comment while I was at work, I gave the usual shy smile and “awww, thanks!” But quickly after that, I did a huge double take and thought to myself, “Wait, wtf is that supposed to mean?” Does being young discredit the work that I put into this company? Did being in my early 20’s working at a big name company mean that I must have started out as an intern?
I feel like being one of the youngest professionals at work brings a lot of disadvantages and stigmas that could invalidate the actual capabilities of the individual. Being called “young,” especially in the context of disbelief pretty much means that you are not worthy of your accomplishments and abilities because of your age.
I think it’s total bullshit.
Throughout our lives, so many teachers, books, courses, and lifestyle blogs tell us that life is not a race and that every one goes through life differently. There is no finish line.
On the other hand, we also have older folks who have been in the industry for years telling all the younger employees that they lack experience or the “appropriate age” to justify accomplishments that not a lot of people achieve when they are young.
It’s confusing and hypocritical.
You don’t hear us young people going around saying “…but you’re so old” to older people who have accomplished something that a young person “should” normally achieve. (If you are doing that, please stop. You’re a jerk.)
Achievements and expertise are not determined by age. They are earned through experience, skill, and hard work. Being “young” or “old” has nothing to do with it.
So, dear reader, if you are reading this with the same frustration of being called young everywhere you go, just own it.
Yes you are young, but you already know that! Just remember that you are so much more than your age and are capable of achieving and experiencing an infinite amount of opportunities that life offers. Age is just a number.
So just bluntly and gracefully tell all of those doubting, youth sucking people to fuck off.
What do you think about this topic of being “too young” despite your experiences and expertise-s? Let’s have a discussion!