“What do people think when they find out you’re just 16?” ranks among the most popular of questions I receive. Usually, they never find out. No, it’s not because I’m some genius when it comes to trying to act like a 30 something when I’m really just mid-teen. I just follow a eight tried and true habits when it comes to “acting old when you’re really not.”
1. Say things about the traffic, even though I’m not old enough (until a couple months ago) to drive. Also remark what a “beautiful day it is” regardless of the weather.
2. If politics is the topic of our chit chat, talk about who I’m thinking about voting for, even though I have no right to vote.
3. Ask if my contact wants to “get coffee” even though I never will drink java…it’s terrible for you.
4. Insist that I cover breakfast or lunch with my contact with my handy dandy credit card…even though you have to be 18 to have one (don’t ask how I do use a credit card).
5. Say “take care” often.
6. Write good.
7. Unlike in high school social circles, don’t make jokes that involve sarcasm or tongue-in-cheek. Too risky. What if they don’t get it? Strictly business.
8. If at a formal dinner, desperately try to use fork and knife to get at that chicken breast even though everyone knows that if you could just pick it up with your fingers and devour the thing it would be much easier and much tastier.
I will address true professionalism – this has nothing to do with age – and elaborate on number six above, in a later post.