Lots of things have prompted me to write this post but mainly it's because I finally realize I'm not the only one afraid to share her numerical age. In fact, two conversations in the last 24 hours showed me that. I have always been afraid of "being too young" to do whatever 'it' is in my professional life and business. Always. Even though, in retrospect, I've likely been perfectly prepared and sometimes even over qualified for whatever 'it' happens to be. But I would never let myself believe I was good enough because I was/am young.
Something in our society tells us that we need to be in our 40's to be the leader. Sometimes it's true, but more and more often, it's not. And more realistically, it depends on the person. Why does being in your 20's or 30's lump you into a category of young, inexperienced and entitled...or however we are being defined these days?
To let you in for some background, I'm the old soul in every circle. I've been told I have maturity and wisdom beyond my years. I've been called the Mom (I always have snacks, so there's that...). I prefer a backyard dinner party to a night of clubbing in the city. I like to read and go antiquing...garden. I hate drama. Most of my friends and people I get along with are at least 5-10 years older than I am.
So how do I hide my age? I'm horribly driven which is great sometimes, but others not so much. One of shadow traits is that I can be too goal oriented and achievement driven if I don't stop and re-group. But it's because for a long time I associated meeting goals and quotas and getting awards with age...and therefore being 'worthy'. I felt like I needed something measurable to be in my favor to feel like I was enough. When I was an intern in the hospital, every day I saw every single one of my patients on my list PLUS patients of other dietitians. But that's not the only way I was trying to compensate for age. For one to two years when I started writing on a more public platform, either as a ghost writer for others in my profession, or when I started sharing my nutrition expertise in the beginning, I was constantly getting feedback that my health writing was 'too technical'. Subconsciously I was cramming so much "I know this and I'll prove it so you don't think I'm too young" into what I was doing the purpose of why I was writing and the message itself was lost.
Within my personal thoughts that age was equal to excellence, my feelings were compounded by taking too much stock in what others said. The 'old guard' in certain areas of my life were reinforcing the message that taking your own path, that being really good at what you do and taking risks were merely impossible and stupid unless you 'put in your ten years in clinical hospitals' or unless you 'put in your time in a 9-5". And I listened. And it was so stupid for me to listen because I wasted several months holding back my abilities, and happiness for what I do now while agreeing with them.
What I've finally come to realize in the past year is that you cannot fear your age. How old or young you are does not translate to how good you are or how 'enough' you are to do something. You would be amazed at the experiences and education and passion you can have as a younger person. And that you have an amazingly connected and in depth understanding of community building and message creation that people in their 40's, 50's and 60's mostly don't (FYI there are definitely exceptions to the rule here). But also that your passion can fuel you to accomplish and push to learn, understand and do more in a few short years than in someone's career of 9-5 or traditional 'should' career progressions.
I still sometimes fear not being taken seriously or people thinking I'm not experienced enough to do something I know I can. But now I know I always have the chance to just 'do'. And when you 'do' and let your passion and abilities speak for you without worrying about what others think, you 'do' great things. And then age doesn't matter.
So here it is. How old am I? I'm 24. To be honest, even today I try not to share my age unless someone specifically asks! Twenty four, thirty four... sixty four, I'll always be young to someone so all I can do is do and be... age is just a number after all.
Have you felt this way? Do you hide your age? Do you feel like you held yourself back by not feeling enough?
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Dietitian Nutritionist and cookbook author sharing flavor-forward recipes and simplified science-driven wellness.