Being 24 and just starting my second post-graduation job in a new city, I still feel like a kid sometimes. By all means, I’m an adult. I pay my rent. I pay my bills. I can legally drink. If I have sex with someone I’m not afraid my parents will find out. I cook food for myself and go food shopping. I wake up every day at 6:45am and go to work. But I know that I am no adult, well at least not the version of me that I want to be.
This came to me like a smack in the face when I met my new boss (we’ll call her Melissa). Melissa is 32ish, incredibly successful and absolutely gorgeous. Not only was she the director of my type of department at another company by 27, she’s lived abroad, dresses well, is married and probably the thing I’m most jealous of, is intelligent as hell. Now, I’m smart, don’t get me wrong; I’m not one of those people who said they got wait listed to a college in high school when in reality they were rejected. But Melissa is intelligent in a way I have yet to master and I hope that comes with age.
Every single word she says means something. She doesn’t ramble when she’s nervous, if she’s ever nervous. She is concise and to the point. She sets deadlines and completely holds her own in meetings with some of the most successful men in the country. She rocks a mean power suit but has the intellect to back it up. She knows the ins and outs of our market and I can honestly say she’s one of the first women I’ve met in a long time that makes me feel 5 inches shorter than I am.
She doesn’t intentionally do any of this, it’s just who she is. After my first full day with her, seeing her in meetings, watching how she performs, I left work feeling like a fraud. It made me feel like to the outside world I am perceived as having my shit together and for most, I guess that would be acceptable, maybe even great. But for me, I realized, it’s subpar.
I don’t want to be 32 at the moment; I like being 24. But I’m now worried that I’m not pushing myself and that I won’t be a version of me that I’d be proud of when 32 does come around. I’m currently trying to stay above the weight of this realization and it’s a battle. Some days I look at Melissa and think “This is awesome, I’ll be able to learn so much from her.” Other days I avoid her like the plague because I’m afraid she’ll ask me a question and although I may know the answer, I’ll shrink within myself and fumble an incorrect response.
None of this is Melissa’s fault. I’m incredibly proud to work with her and for her. I just realized maybe I’m worried about my future, about who I’ll become, in a way that I never thought about before. Better late than never I guess.