This probably happens to a lot of 20-somethings, but I’m at an awkward moment in my life where people repeatedly mistake me for a college student. This doesn’t flatter me and make me feel young–I am young. When people think I’m younger than I actually am, it’s kind of offensive. Like I’m giving off this vibe that I don’t really know what I’m doing and need parental guidance. I guess this is true, so I shouldn’t be too upset.
As a 24-year-old living in a college town, I’m more likely to be grouped into the undergrad population. I understand that. But maybe people could start with the question, “Are you in school?” rather than jumping straight into, “What year are you?”
Ah, yes, what year are you. This is the question I was asked most often during my part-time career. It would come up every time I worked with someone I hadn’t met, and I would always have to answer, “Actually I graduated and am looking for a full-time job.” Once someone asked if I was in high school, which was strange. But I guess I can thank my timid personality and athletic (aka boobless) figure for that one.
When do classes start? This is a confusing question, because I usually know the answer (my boyfriend is in grad school, after all). So I can choose to answer and receive a follow-up question about my non-existent college career, or I can say “I have no idea,” followed by “Oh, sorry I thought you were in school.” And that would be followed by, “Nope, just hanging out, trying to find a job.”
I received the wonderful “when do classes start” question regularly last summer, even from co-workers at my internship. It’s not unheard of for graduates to have low-paying internships these days! Get with the times, people.
Now that I have a job, surely correcting people is easier, right? Actually, it’s somehow more complicated. This comes from my annoying habit of having to over-explain myself for everything. So here’s an example of how that might go:
Someone will ask if I’m in school, and I’ll say, no I’m working full time. “Doing what?” they’ll ask. And I’ll reply with, “I work at HP.” But I can’t just leave it at that, because I don’t want people to assume I’m doing really cool, techy things.
So I’ll tell them I’m an editor at HP. But I feel like this won’t make sense to them either. Why would HP need editors?
At this point I usually feel the need to explain the exact project I’m working on so they know what it is I’m editing. And by the time all is said and done, I can tell that I’ve just overshared and started a really boring conversation.
The good news is, I think I’ve solved this whole conundrum. The other day I was at the DMV, and the woman helping me (who was actually friendly!) asked me when classes started. But instead of trying to correct her, I just answered the question.
“January 22, I think.”
“Oh, right. I thought classes started around that time.”
“Yeah, CSU seems to start later than everyone else.” (Do they? At the moment this just seemed like something I should say.)
“Yes, they do!”
Awesome. End of conversation. I think this is my game plan from now on. Just play the part of the college student. And actually, being mistaken for as a college student can be a good thing. After all, they get the best discounts on museums, ski passes and other things I, too, would enjoy a discount on. Maybe I should look into getting a fake student ID…