The professional world and how age is sometimes king

The professional world and how age is sometimes king

You know the term “age is just a number”? It’s pretty common, and mostly used on birthdays of people who don’t enjoy the larger number they are turning. Side note: let’s give a half spirited, fully sarcastic round of applause to society for that upside down and Debby downer thought process. Why? Because age is such a gift, and I know- you’re thinking- how does this 20 something year old even know this? 

Well, here’s the thing, the term also works for the younger folks. How? Because age IS just a number, people can be wildly different from the norm of their age. I know I am, and I know my husband is too (in opposite ways, but that’s for another story). 

The world of professionalism is a stage or period in life that comes for each of us. It’s a silent stage in life that creeps up on us, even when we think we see it coming. 

It happens for people in different ways and different speeds, but there is a day when you realize what you’re doing requires a separate version of yourself. 

Some cases you are asked to change your behaviors slightly, while others you have to change completely to fit a role. I find it often comes unexpectedly and with the job you are given, or from the person, or the place you work for. 

I’ve been in every stage for what feels like forever at a time. High school was one of the first shifts into the professional world. We were expected as young adults to make decisions that more often than not largely impacted the future of our lives. Whether it was the college we chose, the internship, or even the summer jobs. At this point, everything went on a resume. Everything had a place on paper to make you more important, more worthy, and more wanted. 

After college, you have your first real life job- this is where all those years of good grades, extra credit, college tuition, and summer jobs came into play. Here, you had to yet again show your worth for positions that may very well lead you to reassess the importance of working at all. And to top it all off, you were expected to know how to do this from the very beginning. 

My first out of college job was maybe one of the worst. I was eventually treated terribly. Although, it didn’t start this way- and I believe that’s how they get you. My energetic and knowledge hungry self slowly faded, and I became zombie-like on the job. I did the same exact things everyday and I sat and stared at my double screens all day. My future to grow in the job began and stopped the day I signed on. 

I was given a title that sounded important and serious, but was nothing more than a glorified floater of the company, who picked up the extra work. They saw my age as just a number, not necessarily taking into account the person I actually was and my capabilities. 

I stayed in the job as long as I could before finally leaving it. The problem here was, to society- it looked like I quit on a great opportunity that showcased my knowledge, skills, and worth. I felt utterly suffocated by my position there, and my health and self worth took a downward spiral. The feeling after leaving the job was something I’ll never forget- a weight lifted off me, and I instantly felt better. But this was of course also followed by horror and the realization I was jobless- right out of college. I thought- what will people think of me now? 

Like all things, nothing is forever. I soon found another job, and it felt like something I could really take on and run with. They seemed interested in my worth and how I could potentially grow at the business.  

But, at the end of the day- it all came down to my age. I couldn’t do certain jobs because of where I was in life (my age). I wasn’t worldly enough, and who knew if I could handle the work. My potential was measured by my age- perhaps not on purpose, but it was what it was. 

I think that once people get to a certain level of success in life, and a certain comfortability, they become blind to the beginning stages of their success. Employees become people they “gave” a chance to, and any successes would therefore be a shared reward. 

I once had an employer who congratulated me on a large purchase, while also noting that it was basically like they bought it for me. And I thought- hm, I don’t remember you scrubbing the floor and working your butt off! 

Age is just a number, but life is more than that number. 

In the end, my age is a gift, and I wouldn’t want to change it in order to change the way successful people see me. I am young, and according to society, I might not be as experienced in life. And somehow I am stuck being seen as the person that needs that big break. 

I’ll tell you what though- All my proudest accomplishments come from the life experiences I’ve had- and none of them have had anything to do with the jobs or titles I’ve earned. 

Life is bigger than your number, so why not live like it?

Let’s talk about burnout

Let’s talk about burnout

Burnout is a relatively new term people and some businesses are starting to recognize, and let me tell you, it is REAL! Burnout can affect you physically and mentally.  According to Mayo Clinic, “Job burnout is a special type of work-related stress — a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity”. If that doesn’t explain half of the jobs I have ever had, I don’t know what does! There have been a few times I’ve experienced it, and I told myself – never again! Turns out that’s easier said than done, it creeps up on you. You don’t always realize you are stretched out so thin, until doing a simple task like making a cup of tea is just too much. 

I work full time, and I pick up side jobs when and where I can. One of my weaknesses is saying yes, when I should really say no.  Especially if it’s a favor or a task that will help another person out. I am a helper, and I like feeling like I could have positively contributed to someone’s day. But here’s the thing about being a helper, people figure it out, and take advantage. Whether it is your time, your generosity, or sometimes even your trust. 

Being an adult in your 20’s is hard, your in this weird limbo of “live your life, its okay to be a little crazy!’” and “plan for the future, stay on course”. One side says enjoy this time,  travel, spend time with friends, and find a hobby. While the other side says find that secure job, travel when you have the PTO (but also save it), and you can freely live your life when you retire. I have always tended to favor planning for the future, but my brain sometimes manages to flip a switch if there is something I really want to do, and it doesn’t necessarily contribute to my future. I can’t think of any examples off the top of my head, but I am sure some of you guys can relate. 

I am in that wonderful snippet of time for a woman in her 20’s,  where the questions: “are you married?”  And “Are you getting pregnant soon?” are ingrained in some people’s question rolodex. These questions are sometimes okay, but if you’re asking someone in the middle of a burnout period, it’s the worst, and be prepared to be told why. 

As you might have guessed, this happened to me recently. It came from one of my side jobs, during a period of burnout. At first I was stunned by the person who asked me this, since it came after an uninvited string of advice for my life, but also because it was none of their business. After a little bit I realized I had to cut the burnout source in the bud. This meant cutting the side jobs out, and letting my life settle back into its normal semi burnout status.

If you can relate to any of this in your past or present, my advice is to find the source of the strain, and try to find a way to cut it loose. 

M. (2020, November 20). Job burnout: How to spot it and take action. Retrieved February 28, 2021, from