Now I know I work for myself, but stay with me here. My husband Alex and I are the youngest people in our neighborhood and work networks. When people discovered our ages a few months after meeting us, we could physically feel the air change in the room. Age is tied to experience and that’s not necessarily always true. So here’s what you can do to navigate being the youngest person in your workplace.
Put your work forward, not your age. We intentionally avoided telling neighbors and work colleagues our ages. For one, it shouldn’t matter (even though it does), but two, we let our work speak for us. You’re going to feel like you have something to prove, so prove it. Generations stereotype, so put your head down and break the classic “lazy” or “entitled” stereotypes will impressing your boss at work in the process.
Find things in common with your colleagues so they stop seeing your differences first. Do you like the same music as someone in your office? Did you grow up in the same small town? Find common interests to build a relationship beyond the superficial.
Don’t take the age comments too seriously. A friend or work acquaintance will make a comment like, “Oh you’re too young to know who that is” or “You weren’t even born when that came out!” Oftentimes that’s their insecurities being projected onto you. It’s often hard for people to accept that someone younger is at the same point in life as they are.
Avoid age references. The other side of the coin is just as true. No one wants their older age to be pointed out. Avoid the “you don’t know what Snapchat is?!” comments. Trust me. That’s now how you make friends.
There are going to be those people who just can’t get over the age difference. It’s unfortunate, but it’s also not your problem. Be proud of your personal successes while not rubbing them in anyone’s face. Work hard and be kind.