“Don’t let them look down on you are because you are young.” I heard this over and over from church youth group leaders and various other people who shared in the idea that you could change the perception of others – that others didn’t have to look at you like you were young. You could act mature, work hard and people would not perceive you as just another stupid, immature kid.
I have always acted with maturity vastly beyond my years. Adults around me said I was an old soul at 15. I’m not sure that was true but I never took the time to find out. Now, almost 10 years later I know that the world doesn’t work how they said it would. Ageism is real and it is profound. I’ve worked for several companies in the short time I’ve legally be able to be employed and I have experienced this first hand. People like to use youth because it is a socially acceptable scapegoat in many places and because there are silly, immature young adults that have allowed this stereotype to perpetuate. It’s easy to blame the new person and if you’re young you’re used to being the new person a lot even when you aren’t new young is such an easy target for some people who often feel threatened by the skills us new fangled youths possess like our ease with social media, lightening fast typing skills and proficiency with various software.
I know now that I won’t be able to change everyones mind. I will be discriminated against for reasons I cannot control. It’s wrong and it’s illegal but it is not going away. How do you stand up to those that want to put you down because of something you can’t control?
I’ll admit I don’t have the answers yet and somedays it’s bad enough that it makes me want to throw in the towel, but then I remember that I’m a responsible, mature adult and that isn’t the way to handle problems or my bank account so I persevere. I work harder. I don’t give in to their pettiness and I hope and pray for change to come because I believe that prayers can change what I cannot.