I was in a meeting today with eight other people, who would probably fall into the category we used to call “middle managers”, in a large energy company. And part-way through I realised that most, maybe even all of them, are young enough to be my children.
I’m in my early fifties (well, I say “early”…definitely not “mid-” yet, at least not in my mind). For many years I was conscious that I was always working for and with people who were older than me, which to my simple way of thinking is how it should be, and how I perceive that it was when I was young: age should bring wisdom and experience, and that should be valued and rewarded, and so older people will be senior.
I have realised that the gap was closing – as I got older, the people I was working for were getting closer to me in age. I did manage to work for a couple of people who were heading towards retirement, so that redressed the balance, and for a couple who were my age. But increasingly my work peers have been getting younger and younger it seems, and I think I’ve now crossed a threshold: for the remaining 10 or so years till I can retire I’m going to work with and for people for whom I’m like their Dad.
The group I was with today aren’t exceptionally young, and that’s kind of my point. They’re in their late twenties and early thirties, with children at primary school or nursery. They’re not fresh out of school or university, but already are experienced in their roles, and bringing real expertise to the meeting (good: that’s why they were invited). But I’m older than them by 20 years.
And I don’t know how to feel about that.
I guess that this is something everyone feels at some time, and it’s not even something that’s particularly new to me – I’ve been aware of it for a while. Like most people, I’m much younger in my head than I am in real life, so (in my head) I’m just a contemporary of these colleagues.
But I do wonder how they see me. I’m not young-looking for my age – I’ve been grey since I was in my 20s, and getting a bit wrinkly – and I’m not one for keeping up with the latest trends. I know it doesn’t matter – I’m there for my knowledge, not for my looks – but I do wonder…..
Once again, I’ve started writing a post waaaay too late in the evening, and I’ve ended up somewhere that really needs a lot more time, effort and exploration. I’m not even sure it makes sense. But I’m going to hit “publish”, and I’ll come back to the subject another day.