Younger is better: realizing my potential

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Photo credit: Brandon Hillier
Photo credit: Brandon Hillier
Photo credit: Brandon Hillier

Working in an office of your friends and peers is a wonderful thing, but there are certain difficulties that come with being the youngest of the group.

I’ve had the good fortune to have worked in a few different environments lately alongside many incredibly bright, good-humoured young adults. Almost exclusively, all of them have been older than me.

It’s also not uncommon for me to be the second Roach working at a job, either. The dynamic between me and my future co-workers is usually predetermined by the impression they get of me from my older sister and boss — our radiant Editor-in-Chief, Alison.

This comes with a certain amount of baggage. Most of the time, they know me by her favourite pet name — Smelly — before they ever see my face. They’ve heard about the time I dove into the shallow end of the pool on our family vacation, only to emerge looking like something out of the movie Carrie.

Being the youngest in the workplace can be intimidating. It’s easy to feel dismissed, underqualified, undeserving. What’s more, the fear that I had been hired due to nepotism — and that others would perceive it that way — rather than based on my skillset, was a cloud that darkened my first weeks of work at the paper, especially.

It’s easy to feel dismissed, underqualified, or undeserving.

As a result, I’ve often found myself in a ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ kind of mindset. All there was for me to do was to do my work, build up my confidence, and hope that my sister’s peers would become my peers, too.

Having been in my editing job for a year, I find myself taking on more responsibility in my position at The Peak. It’s a strange feeling, coming to grips with the idea that you might actually know what you’re doing after feeling uncertain for so long.

Adopting the philosophy that nothing is inherently good or bad, and only thinking makes it so, I’ve tried to approach it from a different angle. Instead of feeling like I shouldn’t be where I am, I look to great people who have accomplished things at an early age. Usually the remark people make is that that person did something noteworthy, “and they were only this old.”

Instead of feeling like a faker, I’ve realized I might try taking pride in the work I do, while always trying to rise to the occasion.

And maybe, just maybe, I will be known as simply ‘Melissa,’ and not ‘Smelly.’’