I’ve given up.
I used to be a young, energetic, fire-ball who rebelled against mediocrity, stupidity, and ambivalence (I like big words; they make me feel like I know stuff). I remember fighting the system, and getting a charge out of every small victory. I remember scaring old people that I worked with because I could easily do their jobs better than they could. I remember being a stickler for perfection. I got a lot of crap about it from older people.
Now, I just don’t care anymore. I’ve allowed myself to become part of the establishment. I subscribe to philosophies like “C’s get degrees”, and “Eh—Whatcha gonna do?”. I find myself at work, trying to help younger employees “fit in” and “not make waves”. I’m not talking about people in their first jobs, but people younger than myself. People who look to me for guidance, because I’ve created a reputation of being the best.
I believe reading SOMEWHERE that we have the right to a pursuit of happiness. Of course, the guy who wrote that was kind of old, so I think he meant that old(er) people have a right to a pursuit of happiness. Age discrimination laws don’t even affect people under 40. For people your age, it’s okay to discriminate against you.
I’ve asked peers about this, and the responses I get are comments like, “That’s the way it is. You remember what it was like.” Sadly, I do.
So, if you aren’t able to pursue happiness, I say F- them! Pursue anger! Pursue doing better than those who actually take time out of their life to put you down for the temporary condition of youth.
You have the advantage here. All they have is the past, while you have the ability to think outside the norm, towards the future. You will hear, throughout your career, “That’s the way it’s always been done”. Those words used to burn through my soul like oil. Now, I’ve found that they just make me die a little inside.
– Use your youth and ability to work harder and longer than the others to your advantage. Be the first person at work, work your full schedule at full speed. Be the last person out.
– Ask if there is more that you can do to help the company do better.
– Do not be afraid of the bitter old person who keeps telling you that your ideas don’t work. They will tell you that they have tried everything. They will tell you about how they failed. That was a different set of circumstances at a different time. Now it’s your turn.
– Pay attention to the little things. If your job is flipping burgers, make sure that all of your burgers are cooked to perfection, the fries are evenly and well seasoned, and the napkin holders never go empty.
– Understand that it is okay to make mistakes, but don’t allow yourself to make the same mistake twice. Make new mistakes. There are few things in the first few jobs that are irreparable. Just make sure you don’t make those mistakes.
– Take notes on EVERYTHING! Review those notes, and keep them within easy access. These notes are important to you.
– If there is a better way to do something, learn it then do it. If you thought of a better way, ask permission to implement the better way.
– Pay attention to the way you appear to those that matter. Keep appropriately groomed and dressed.
– Run harder, faster, and longer than the others. When you walk out of work, be sweating because of the effort you put in. Believe me when I tell you that we, as management notice such things, and look favorably towards those that do.
– Don’t give the old people ammunition against you. AS WE SAW YESTERDAY , the older people out there take glee in arresting the success of young people. It’s not surprising that BILL O’REILLY thinks Amy should have known better than to take ‘sleazy’ pictures, but I have yet to hear any of the major pundits say that Amy did nothing wrong, and was a victim. Take whatever measures necessary to keep your private life private.
– If there is a job you really want to do, but someone else is already doing it within your company, ask them to work with you to teach you. Everybody likes to feel important enough to teach someone else, and you may be able to do the job in the future, either with your company or another.
This is the first in an occasional series about bucking the system in as many aspects of life you can. You will rule this world at some point, but that doesn’t diminish your contributions today. Stop letting those that are older destroy that fire inside you.