As an October baby, I hit milestones long after most of my peers. I was the last to turn 13, the last to get a driver’s license, and the last to be able to legally cross the threshold of a drinking establishment.
Now that I’m a young professional, I’ve also fallen victim to another disadvantage of a late birthday. I am the youngest person in my office, including several interns that are still in college, and people don’t take me seriously once they find out my age. It’s the opposite of what I imagine will happen in 40 years when I’m much too bright-eyed and spry for my old age; people will suddenly have a much higher opinion of me once they find out how gracefully I’ve aged. (I predict that there will be a lot of “We are not worthy!” chants and fielding “What’s your secret?” questions.)
Until then, however, here are the downsides to being a 22-year-old in the corporate world:
It’s assumed that all I want to do is party.
While that’s not entirely untrue, my social life exists mostly outside of work. Of course, my coworkers are some of my closest friends. But there is a time and place for inappropriate comments about my party habits. If I look a little tired in the morning, don’t assume I’m hungover.
People assume that I’m less intelligent or less capable of doing my job than my older colleagues.
I am in this job for the same reason you are, and my age doesn’t mean that I can’t do it just as well as you can.
Some people use my age and “lack of experience” as an excuse when I ask questions.
No thanks, I’m asking to further my knowledge, not to prove how wise you are.
Don’t get me wrong; there are some pros to being the youngest person in the office. No, people aren’t asking me for fashion advice or what’s “cool” to kids these days, but there are plenty of reasons to own being a young person in a corporate world.
When people find out that I moved 2,000 miles away from home to a new city to start a job, they generally express some awe and disbelief.
Any qualms they had about my young age disappear around this point in the conversation, because I’m fully supporting myself on an entry-level salary while paying back student loans. I (mostly) get myself to doctors appointments, and I am completely independent.
There is nowhere for me to go but up.
I moved to be a part of a very small team in a startup office of a big company, so there are so many more opportunities for professional growth than if I’d stayed in my old office. I have the potential to manage a team and make a substantial salary by 25.
Having graduated college so recently, I can still drink like a fish on a weeknight and be functioning and (mostly) normal-looking the next morning, which is not something I can say for most of my peers.