“Now that I’ve experienced ageism, I don’t regard it as a bad thing. It’s been a transition to something more exciting and maybe edgier.”
Does this conversation rundown seem familiar?
“How old are you? [waits for answer] Oh, you’re just a baaaaby!”
I suspect that if any of you are in the 20-30 something age range, that you too have heard this when people found out how old you were right after asking about what you do for a living.
In 2013, this made my top 10 most most hated phrase list of conversation killers. My ageist radar would sound the alert so quickly that sometimes I was tempted to act like I had a personality disorder or like I had suddenly forgotten English, all just so I could cut those negative conversations short.
I don’t know if you’re thinking this, but Iam: Age is a number. Nothing else but that.
You see, the defeatist statements from people like that translate in my mind like this:
“Your goals don’t mean anything/have to be put on hold/are silly because of how long you have been on this planet.”
I bet if someone said that, I can almost guarantee you’d find it very hard not to reply with a snarky comment. Very few people are going to come outright and say some nonsense, though. No, it’ll come in a much more subtle form, in the guise of a mentor when in reality it’s the ego speaking. I wasn’t ready when the questions came, when I was running to the grocery store, when I was tired, and I got knocked down quite a few times. I can tell you that your best defense–so you can avoid my mistakes–is to be prepared.
There are some adept shooters out there who never miss their mark when shooting down someone’s rocket before one can even break through the layers of a desired success. As reality would have it, some young people don’t have a long enough life to even have all the experiences that are supposed to come with age. It makes me wonder:
Do people have the expectation that a life has to be put on hold until a future date, that young people don’t have the same innate need for security and strength and fulfillment?
With that, I allow this moment that I’m writing to serve as conscious awakening, a time to realize that I’m fortunate enough to be alive right now. Not only that, but I have done some living already seasoned with plenty of lessons that far outweigh the merit of my age. For crying out loud, I could die tomorrow. I will have wanted to say that I spent my time in a way that made it worthwhile.
From these face-to-face encounters with challenging and patronizing comments, I have found opportunities to grow and learn about self-validation notwithstanding a lot of invalidating people.
Of course, everyday is a chance to grow and I’m not at all referring to wise leaders and people who guide us, perhaps those who gently remind us that we have things to look forward to still. For something as essential as networking, I will always keep my eyes and ears open for ways to better my technique and get more desired results–that’s one example. As for someone being a Negative Nancy by telling me I am too young to accomplish what I need and want…here and now?
No, I’ll definitely be shutting my system down for those opportunities. I need that valuable rocket fuel, thank you much.
I kind of lied today. I said this would be a list for young professionals and entrepreneurs, but it’s not. I’m not listing anything because the only list that this article refers to is the one that you’re going to be making for yourself. This list needs your hopes, the practical steps, the goals, the needs, the desires, the dreams, the complaints, the setbacks, the triumphs, the expressions–everything that will help you focus on the good outcomes that lie ahead of you; and it would behoove you to put them down on paper or maybe you prefer Pinterest if you need the visuals.
Keeping your eye on your prize will prevent someone else from coming and stealing it, or (worse) keeping you from getting it in the first place.
In the end, you’re the one who will be living your life. You’re likely to run into other people who have a knack for trying to live through others, and you won’t be immune to their attempts. Fortunately, no matter what your age, you have the authority and capability to make your own decisions and pave your way rather than let someone else do so for you.
I hope that was encouraging if you have been experiencing issues around this. Would you care to tell me about some of those life and career goals you’ll be listing, or maybe pinning?
Keep living an inspired life, keep reaching for the stars