Turns out that trying to run one company and launch two more as well as write a blog and have a social life (here and there) is a little more than this Betwixter can handle. Thank goodness for my guest writers who have interesting and pertinent things to say. Always open for more, so keep ’em coming!
I’d like to welcome Steph, our newest 24 year-old social commentator:
“Hi Ms. ___, nice to meet you,” she said in a professional work voice. This is how I was greeted by the newbie in our office. She was the new hire I was training for my former position. She called me “Miss.” And she had those eager eyes of a naively ambitious recent graduate. “What can I do for you?’ she continued. She had no idea I was only two years older than her. I was young enough to be in the same social circles as her, and yet she addressed me as if I was a senior partner.
The formality caught me off guard at first. When did I become an authority figure? I was still at the bottom of the totem pole. I still took the liberty to wear skinny jeans to work. I didn’t have wrinkles or any other visual signs of wisdom, knowledge, or exhaustion on my face.
“Excuse me, hi. Sorry for interrupting, but how do I…” it began. I replied in my adult voice. It was the voice that communicated authority, experience, and preexisting knowledge. The one that made people ignore my 16 year old looking face and see the quasi-30 year old inside. I enjoy using it because it evokes a seriousness in the people it addresses. They always reply with a legitimate response instead of a dismissal. I started to have fun with it. She thought I was old. She took me seriously.
I instructed her. I spoke as her superior. I turned into the figure she addressed me as. Well, almost. I grew uneasy. I felt like an actor playing a role, as though I was some sort of fraud. What if she found out I was no different than her? What if she discovered I didn’t go home to a husband, but to a roommate and a bottle of wine? Where would my newfound authority go? I wasn’t used to this. I was never taken seriously. I was the naive newbie. I was being taught how to do things. What kind of sick inversion of roles was this??
After a few days I found that my adult voice was suddenly sincere. I did know things. I was experienced. I could train the newbie. The question was: when did I become the adult? At what point do we transform from eager new hire to experienced superior? In my case, apparently, as I was desperately clinging onto my youth, I grew up.
(Note from Ms. Betwixter: Just wait to you get called Ma’am…that’s certainly jarring. But hey, it’s a welcomed change from my loathing of ageism towards youth in the workplace. )