Here’s the thing, guys. The internet is filled with articles about being a young, 20-something millennial. Some say this is the time to spend what money you can muster on travel, while others implore you to save your money now if you want to be happy when you’re 40. Perhaps being in your 20s is the time to be carefree, selfish, and ephemeral – or perhaps it is a time to be practical and plan for your future. Whichever option you choose to believe, whichever path you choose to take, I think it is fair to say this is an inevitably confusing time in our lives.
But, what exactly makes it so damn confusing? I reached an epiphany the other day at work, at the “big girl job” I’ve had for a year and a half where I work 40 hours a week to pay my own rent and bills. I have proven to be reliable, responsible, and perfectly capable of supporting myself. This should make me qualify as a grown-up, right? You’d think. Yet I, along with my Millennial peers, struggle to truly adopt this feeling of being “grown-up”.
We are expected to act grown-up in all aspects of our lives – yet simultaneously are still viewed as children. This became very apparent to me as I attempted to have a professional conversation with a family member of a gymnast I coach – and she patted me on the back and called me sweetie. Twice. Excuse me for attempting to communicate myself as an authoritative figure responsible for your daughter.
We are expected to act grown-up in all aspects of our lives – yet simultaneously are still viewed as children.
How am I expected to view myself as a competent, responsible adult when those who seem like real adults (older than me, have a child, etc) pat me on the back and call me sweetie?! At my job where I am attempting to portray myself as an authoritative figure, no less. Can we take a minute to consider that this is probably really freaking frustrating? Excellent.
Let’s examine the following list of five contradictory ways 20-somethings are treated:
- Your older colleagues call you the baby, even though you all do the same job.
- People regularly remark at how much older than you they feel.
- Baby names! The dentist called me sweetie last time I visited (a month ago).
- You feel so old when you visit your college friends. But you feel so young when you’re around your new work friends. Which one is it?
- You graduated college. This should be able to land you a job, right? Well, the super great thing about the current job market is nearly all jobs require experience – even the most entry-level positions. WTF?
This is why 20-somethings are confused! We get mixed messages that come from both ends of the spectrum. Are we supposed to be grown-ups, or do we accept grown-ups as they look down upon us, pat us on the back and call us sweetie? Apparently, it’s both. This intersection is precisely what leaves us scratching our heads, unable to figure out our place.
Are we supposed to be grown-ups, or do we accept grown-ups as they look down upon us, pat us on the back and call us sweetie?
I can’t claim that I actually know how to adult. I still ask my mom/dad/Google benign questions that adults should maybe know the answers to. I’m still figuring exactly what my path is in life. But you know what? I am doing my best to navigate this phase of my life – we all are. We may not have the answers, but we’re working on it. So sure, we’re young. That doesn’t mean we aren’t also responsible, capable, and professional in our work.
Treat us as such, please.