Tonight, I turned on the television and the first thing that popped up was the movie “Legally Blond.”  I have a confession.  I love this movie.  Every time it’s on I have to watch it.  There’s a scene in the movie where Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) is saying good-bye to her manicurist (aka Stifler’s mom).  She decided to quit  Harvard Law School and head back to California after the lead lawyer at her internship hit on her.  Elle believed that after that incident no one, not even her ex-boyfriend or family, ever took her seriously. 

Oddly, I relate to Elle Woods.  I’m not a skinny, blonde Valley girl from California who got into Hardvard Law.  Actually, I’m the complete opposite.  But like Elle, I feel that I’m constantly having to prove myself.  At 31, I look and sound young.   Professionally, it’s been a challenge for people to take me seriously.  Even though I have a Masters in Social Work and years of experience in nonprofit work, I find myself fighting for people to admit, “Yes that girl knows what she’s talking about.”  

I remember at a previous job, my supervisor announced to the Board that I would be touring a major foundation.  At that point, I was with the  organization for ten months.  I wrote and submitted a grant request to this foundation for funding.  One of our Board Members who is very influential in our community and a generous philanthropist herself took my supervisor aside to voice her concerns about having me do the tour.  I remember I passed by them and overheard her say, “Is that young girl going to do the tour? I think someone else needs to do it.”  Luckily, my supervisor was confident in my skills and reassured her that I would do a good job. We ended up receiving the full amount of our grant request.

To this day, I continue to have to prove myself as a professional.  I’ve never had it easy.  My current supervisor is someone I look up to and value her advice and feedback.  She told me that I need to be aware that people view me as young and as a novice. No matter how old I am and what it says on my resume, when people meet me for the first time the first thing that pops into their head is “she’s young.”  My supervisor told to be aware of the fact that there’s not much that I can do about it, but to accept it and work through it. 

Despite the challenges I face in my professional career, I know that looking young is not a bad thing.  I love the fact that I still get carded to buy alcohol.  I will appreciate it even more when I’m 40 and still getting carded  (I hope that is still true in 9 years).   It’s also nice to hear people tell me they thought I was barely 21 after carding me to go into a bar or nightclub.  I was even a bit flattered, but mostly creeped out, when a high school student hit on me at the gym this evening.  All in all, having a babyface has it’s advantages and disadvantages.  I just hope that as I get older it gets easier in my professional career.  At this rate, if I keep working as hard as I do to get people to take me seriously, I might find myself aging at a much faster rate.  And do I really want that??  I don’t think so!

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