A 25-year-old boss? Are you kidding me?

by DGO Web Administrator

Adapted from a recent online discussion:I’ve been at my job for 14 years. We started a new, huge project so there are some new hires and new structuring. We are divided into four groups of about 10, each with a team leader, and there is one person who leads the team leaders.This person used to be my direct boss and we had a great working relationship.I’ve been on my team for about three weeks and I’m having a hard time with my team leader, who is just out of business school and is the same age as my kids. She doesn’t do anything specifically insulting or difficult, I just have a really hard time taking a 25-year-old seriously at work.I went to my old boss and asked to be switched to a different team, and he told me no. He also said there is no reason not to listen to my team leader.I like my actual work and my co-workers, so I want to stay here, but it’s difficult for me. How do I take my team leader seriously so I can continue to work here?Having a Really Hard Time

According to what you wrote, at least, there is in fact no reason not to listen to your team leader. So quit indulging these hard feelings before they cost you your job.

Imagine how you’d feel if she asked to have you transferred out because she doesn’t like working with someone her mother’s age.

Ageism is ageism. Your complaint is ageist.

If it’ll help: Imagine if your 20-something-year-old children mentioned to you that older people they supervise at work were undermining them because they think 20-somethings are too young to be in charge. Would you sympathize, or would you say, “I get it – I don’t take you seriously either”?

Re: Young supervisor:It’s also worth reflecting on the fact that one’s supervisors are only going to keep getting younger (or seeming like it) as one ages. Resenting it is like battling against the tide.Anonymous

Amen, thanks.

I was trained for this myself by watching my doctors get younger and younger. (How do they do that?)

Re: Ageism:The older I get, the younger my colleagues are. I’ve worked with older bosses, younger bosses, and same-age bosses. I recommend this worker pay more attention to the work at hand and less to what the leader looks like. A younger person has energy and vision and fresh eyes that can open up discussion and solutions. An older person has experience and judgment and skills that, if not stingily withheld, can move the project forward successfully. This worker is at risk of being seen as an inflexible old fogey that everyone has to work around.Older

Right. And even if the younger person fails to bring “energy and vision and fresh eyes,” it is still the employees’ job to make the best of it – just as they must muddle through when an older person occupies a management position despite dubious experience, judgment and skills.

My boyfriend and I have been dating for six months and best friends for over eight years. I recently moved across the country so that we could live together.His day-to-day lifestyle is not healthy and he chooses to drink and smoke every night. I enjoy a good time but understand the importance of moderation.Also, I often find myself waiting for him due to his inability to plan. If I want to eat dinner with him, I have to wait until 10 p.m. It leaves me feeling very lonely.He says he wants to change but I see no real, consistent signs of this. Are my expectations of healthy living unrealistic? Do you recommend I stay with him until he settles down, or find my own path in this new city?Lovingly Frustrated

You actually have three choices, not two: Stay and hope he changes; go; or stay and don’t hope he changes.

The only truly terrible idea I see here is the first one, agreeing to something and wishing it were something else. It’s anti-reality.

Plus, the wisdom of moderation notwithstanding, it’s YOUR definition of how a life should be. It’s arbitrary. Period. Adults are free to drink and smoke and plan poorly; they just need to live with the consequences.

And the people who love them have to decide whether the person’s companionship is worth it, consequences and all.

Every year on my birthday, my husband and I do something simple like going to a museum and dinner.I have a friend who is in a long-distance relationship, and I’m not a fan of her boyfriend. She announced that my birthday is when her boyfriend will be visiting next and she wants to double date. She ended the conversation with “Let me know what we’re doing’’ and has brought it up multiple times since.I want my low-key birthday with my husband, but this is the only day they have free, and she is very excited to celebrate together.You’ve talked before about how as adults we need to calm down about our birthdays. Do I just suck it up and spend the day with the glass bowl?Reluctant Birthday Girl

I’ve also talked before about how we get to decide how we use our own time. When she “announced … she wants to double date” on your birthday, you had every right to say, “I’m sorry, I already have plans – but when he’s in town next, we’re in.” Saying no isn’t rude.

You can still say it, even though having stalled this long will make it more awkward than it needed to be. Just say, “I should have said this upfront – we have longstanding plans on my birthday. I’m sorry to disappoint you – but please do let me know next time your boyfriend is in town.”

There are usually several principles that can be applied to any given situation. The one you rest on is the one that honors your integrity best. There’s nothing wrong with planning the birthday you want. There’s also nothing wrong with setting aside your preference to indulge a friend.

It becomes something wrong when you make a choice because you think you’re supposed to, but don’t actually believe in it, and then just go miserably through the motions, thereby serving no one.

Something to keep in mind: With few exceptions, the best time to say “no” or have a difficult conversation is as soon as possible after you realize it needs to be said. Waiting just gives you a whole new awkward thing to admit on top of the original one – and it’s often the stalling that comes between you, not the original awkward thing. It’s the emotional equivalent of the cover up being worse than the crime.

And, ah, happy birthday!

Carolyn Hax is a syndicated advice columnist for The Washington Post. She started her advice column in 1997, after five years as a copy editor and news editor in Style and none as a therapist. Email her at [email protected].

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