Friday, December 5, 2008

And now I'm old, too

I think have officially crossed into the age range where I find it really offensive when people think I am older than I actually am. This problem is compounded by two factors. The first is that I do volunteer work with teenagers. They apparently lump me in with all of the other advisers who are all much older than me. Most of these people were advisers in the program when I was still IN the program as a teenager. But if they make a cultural reference, they feel like they have to explain it to me. I asked if a headline they were running that played on a band's name was topical enough that most people would get it. The kids, of course, said "haha, it's a BAND!" like I didn't know. Of course I knew it was a band. I was going to their concert the next week. I'm NOT OLD. When I told them I had a cell phone in high school, they asked me if it was one of those big brick ones from the 80's. I graduated in '01!

The second factor that compounds my neurosis is the structure of my firm. Associates constantly move upward in rank and responsibility throughout our career so we are hiring new staff members and interns at least twice a year. The problem is that people in my particular rank can be of many different ages so apparently the new staff just assume that I am older than I actually am. I had one staff who went to the same University as me go on and on about "oh, I don't if that professor was teaching way back when you were in school..." (yes he said 'way back' - more than once!) until I finally stopped him to discern the difference in our ages. I was undergrad class of 2005, he graduated in 2006 - I am ONE YEAR OLDER.

And, of course, when I told a different staff the first story about the teenagers she said "oh, did you try to sound hip?" and then laughed. I am hip, goddamnit! And not as in a broken hip.

Anyone else have this problem? I find it quite frustrating. It's right up there with people making assumptions about my interests and personality because of my work clothes (we have a dress code!!), or that the fact that I'm married means I want to have kids right now (no way!!), or that I'm a girl so I couldn't possibly love sci fi (I'm a geek!!), or that I'm boring because I'm an accountant.

Please, share an assumption someone made about you that really pissed you off! We can rant together.


  1. Hmm I kinda have the opposite problem in that because I look very young for my age, people automatically treat me like a little kid or assume I'm not responsible.

    I also get irked when people assume I don't know sports, or get surprised that I know a lot about computers, gadgets, and coding, just because I'm a girl.

  2. Maybe it's a height thing... like people still associate height with age even when they shouldn't.

  3. This may sound weird but I'd almost take the "omg I can't believe you're a girl and you like scifi!" thing as a compliment. Stereotyping geeks as obese, pimply, socially awkward individuals throwing up a ‘Live Long and Prosper’ sign obviously persists. People expect a geek (male or female) to be homely and sharing their parents' basement with a life-size Legolas standup rather than be attractive, sociable, and married.

    I'm not saying it's fine for everyone to presume what a geek should be, I just think that's why "omg you’re a geek!" gets such a reaction.

    The most frustrating assumptions made about me were definitely during my time in Japan. Being an American sucked. "You're an American? You must love Bush." "You must be rich." "You must (generalization about Americans)." I got so much flak from the other foreign teachers that I considered pretending to be Canadian on more than one occasion (I might have been able to fake it! ;) ) But, that was a couple years ago.

  4. I totally agree, Meg. My problem is usually that the stereotypical geeks don't take me seriously as a geek. I have no geek street cred!!!

  5. Ah, you're not a card-carrying geek, I see now ;)


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