The other day I was in an elevator with a customer. We were chatting generally about work.
Him: How long have you been with the company?
Me: A little over 3yrs at this point.
Him: Oh, okay. So… you started right out of school then?
Me: Oh, no. I’m pushing 30.
Him: oh…uh… okay.
He apologized for his mistake but I let him know it’s really okay. Most people don’t peg me for more than 12 or 13. It’s really only in the workplace that people assume I had to at least complete college first. That gets me to at least 19 or 20 in their eyes. Sometimes people are even quite rude about it too, which he wasn’t. And, in all fairness, I do look really young.
I used to be really bothered by peoples’ inability to correctly assess my age. So much so in fact that I can, off the top of my head, name five different times that people have jumped to terribly incorrect conclusions based on my perceived age. Three of them happened this month. I just thought of two more while typing this. Thankfully, despite my appearance, I do actually age. That means I’ve learned to better understand other people and my own emotional triggers. This has resulted in me being able to laugh off the innocent mistakes when necessary, and start to assert my professional skills when it becomes an issue of ageism.
Why do I tell this story you ask? Because I think we all deal with adversity on some level. It can be adversity in terms of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, physical appearance, or any number of other things. Learning to handle adversity with grace makes us better, stronger, and more compassionate people.
For me, the most noticeable issue I struggle with is what some people call “the fountain of youth” – what I’d prefer to all a “raincloud of youth”. In the context of this post though, it’s not just about age. I believe we all have our own personal rainclouds that follow us around. Look up and identify what your rainclouds are, and then… grab a thick coat and learn to dance in the rain. 🙂