A few days ago while driving through the three square miles of concrete jungle in Denver — lots of parks here, ya know — I caught a rare glimpse of myself in the driver's seat in the mirrored glass of a skyscraper. I looked like a child driving a car. People probably look over and say, 'why the hell is that 12-year-old driving a vehicle?!'
Recently I've graduated from looking 16 to about 22 to strangers at first glance. I'm not sure how this happened since nothing has changed physically, so I'm assuming its the setting I'm in. Of course looking 22 with the label of intern attached to your name is not so good for a 28-year-old grad student trying to fight her way into a serious, completely new career.
It's amazing how differently people treat you in the workplace when you look younger than you really are. I've come to adopt the philosophy that you should never assume anything. Always encourage and never belittle, even in your mind, because you never know what somebody has been through, regardless of their age. Apparently most of the rest of the world does not agree with me.
When co-workers tried to send me on errands, interrupted me when I tried to talk or scoffed knowingly when I said I had one more year of school left I just wanted to grab the hair on the sides of their head, shake them and say, "DO YOU KNOW WHAT I'VE BEEN THROUGH TO BE HERE RIGHT NOW?! DID YOU EVEN BOTHER TO ASK YOURSELF THAT QUESTION BEFORE YOU REACTED IN SUCH A WAY?!" God, it's irritating. I'm already done with school and I've already had a career. This is my second career after a layoff, a subsequent long term stint in unemployment, a whole lot of other bullshit mixed in followed by a complete life do-over. Now I go to grad school full time — because I have to — I have three jobs and I'm working my ass off. People twice my age haven't had an "adventure" even half as eventful as mine. Everyday I ask myself, what am I DOING? But, like I said, gotta make it to May.
Now that the truth is out that I've aged six years over the past six weeks, people have now stopped trying to send me on errands and what not, but it's still a bit of a struggle. Recently I've been included in a lot of projects in which an intern is priledged to take part, but I'm walking this fine line between intern in the learning phase and seasoned professional. On one hand, the higher ups look to me for answers and on the other hand they like to remind me that I have a lot to learn — knowing smiles that say, 'oh honey, just stop' all around. Starting the marketing department at a company is not an easy task, especially for an intern in the midst of a career change. I know what I'm doing as far as marketing more than anybody else in the room, yet I'm far, far from a seasoned marketer. Frankly, I've been handed a job that I don't know how to do completely — just bits and pieces of it from what I've learned from school and not the whole picture from scratch. This would probably even be a huge challenge for a veteran in the field. I feel like a kid walking around in business casual, yet I know I'm not incompetent.
I want to be someplace where I'm properly coached, mentored and encouraged like an intern is supposed to be, not belittled and pressured, but does that exist in the limbo that I'm living in? It's a situation where I am glad to admit the extent of my abilities, but I was fed to the sharks anyway. I can handle it, but handling it gracefully and up to expectations is another story. Will this help me learn or only show me how badly I can fail and screw up any chance at a new career that I've worked so hard for?
Twenty eight is still pretty damn young. I've experienced so much, yet have so much to learn and I'm caught some place right in the middle — not young and stupid, but not old and wise. This place sucks. Get me out of here.
Dear god, is it May yet?