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What's my age again?

"My friend's say I should act my age"

I'm 23, and if you haven't heard the song "What's my Age Again" by blink-182, take the time to listen to it, because it has brought about this quarter-life contemplation (not a crisis, because nothing is actually wrong).

As a theatre major, I was told multiple times that I should get a "real major" so I could get a "real job" after graduation. Well after graduation I found a "real job" that I love and started a career path I am truly excited for.

Then the imposter syndrome set in.

"No one should take themselves so seriously."

It started when I realized this was the first job I had that did not have an end date. Minus some fireable offense or organizational collapse, I can work there as long as I want, which is the first time I have ever experienced something like that. The excitement quickly turned into panic (as commitment tends to do to people).

What if I want to move to New York? (Which I don't want to do)

What if I want to dye my hair purple? (Which I ended up doing)

What if I change career goals? (I really don't see that happening)

What if I want to go back to school? (Currently getting my masters)

The panic was simply because I was told over and over that people my age don't have their lives figured out, but here I was with a pretty solid game plan I was kind of excited about.

Then I realized that other people my age also had their lives together - my roommate is a teacher, my twin sister is married, one of my best friends just finished her masters, the other started med school - all GIANT commitments, that they all seemed pretty excited about too.

I took the time to actually think about my future, and even if I spend the next 10 years at my current organization, I will still only be 33. I remember that I am ahead of the game, and start thinking about why I was telling myself this lie that my entire life was supposed to be a disaster right now because I am a year post-grad.

I have 4 years of marketing experience, I've been working in Los Angeles Theatre since I was 19, I shouldn't discredit myself because I started young, I should be proud of myself for ambitiously starting my career so young!

With the panic calmed, I discovered I am in this weird limbo between wanting to be young and adventurous (like dying my hair purple, driving across the country with my sister, and buying tickets to Warped Tour) and wanting to be taken seriously as a professional, but I am wondering why I can't be both? I am lucky enough to work at an arts organization, so people are used to non-traditional lives and I have to remember that every artist has a different path, so if mine involves sorority sisters and pop-punk music then so be it.

"Nobody likes you when you're 23."

"You're so young, you haven't had your dreams crushed yet."

Yes someone actually said this to me when I told them of my (ambitious) career goals and what I want to accomplish, (not at my work, at a networking event).

It wasn't that me and my other post-grad friends weren't ambitious and productive members of society, it's because so many people want us to fail. I am the youngest person at work, and in almost every environment I am in, and people like to remind me of that (not my coworkers - they are gems, but definitely other people). Constantly. I'm not really sure why.

There are the people who instead realize I am the next generation of arts leadership and try to help and teach me (see: my coworkers who answer every annoying question I could possibly have). And then there are those who talk to me like I am a child, and sometimes it's hard to remember that I deserve to be treated with respect because so many people like to remind me that I am a good-for-nothing, avocado-toast-eating millennial.

I still have 4 years experience in marketing, I have worked in arts administration for almost two years, I have a degree, I really don't know what you want from me other than to just be older, which I cannot do. Ask me again next year.

I may not have as much life experience, I may be a #millennial, but I also have some great ideas, and I have a lot of energy and optimism.

People spend a lot of time telling me I am not smart/old/experienced enough but I am just trying to figure it out, and I am learning day by day. Instead of beating myself up for something I have no control over, I am going to try and learn as much as possible.

So here is to enjoying the journey of being a young professional in a sector that doesn't know how to define being a professional. Here I am, purple hair, tattoos, and trying to do my best at my job.


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