repeat after me: i am a young professional

I spent the early part of my evening with twenty-nine 1st-6th graders and five moms of 1st-6th graders.

I know, I know. You can already tell this will be a riveting story.

I began working with my church’s children’s choir tonight. I’m actually incredibly excited about this because I have such fond memories of my own days in the children’s choir and because I love my church in Birmingham so much and want to help out now that I’m back here on a more permanent basis.

I forgot how much little kids can be. And how loud. And how obnoxious. And how adorable.

I was chatting with a sweet little girl before we started, and she told me she was 8.

“I am much older than 8. In fact, I’m 14 years older than that,” I replied, groaning inwardly to myself. The age gap between us could fit almost two of her current lifetime.

She scrunched up her face. “I’m going to figure out how old you are,” she said, beginning to count on her fingers.

A few moments passed, and the verdict was in. “48!”

No, sweet girl. Miss Jackie’s not that old yet.

A simple math trick later and we finally found our answer, right as we were beginning our practice.

We went around the room to introduce ourselves, the kids by saying their name, school and grade, and the adults with their name and whatever else was necessary.

“Hey guys. My name is Miss Jackie. A lot of you don’t know me because I haven’t helped out here before, but I’m so excited to get started with our musical. And I just graduated from school!”

One of the older girls got a big grin on her face. “So you’re free!”

“Not as free as you’d think.” The words tumbled out of my mouth before I could stop them. Thankfully, everyone laughed. Especially the moms.

Throughout the rest of the night, I realized that I was being treated as an authority figure by the kids, even though they barely knew me. This isn’t that unusual for me, especially having worked camp for two summers. (I balk at being called “Miss,” but I accept it as a part of the whole “good manners” thing.)

But I also noticed that I was being treated as an adult by *gasp* the other adults.

Now, this shouldn’t be weird to me. I am an adult. This has been established. But I forget that other people recognize this. 

I’m still so used to people categorizing me as a “student,” that I forget that new acquaintances now put me firmly in the “young professional” category. While I still think, “Oh, they are so much older than I am. They’re adults living an adult life. I am not on that level,” they are thinking, “She is a young professional. We are on the same playing field. We are peers.”

The continuous realization of this boggles my mind.

Granted, the women I was with tonight are a handful of years ahead of me. They’re married, all with multiple young children. But they see me as an equal.

So if the kids see me and think “adult” and other young adults see me and think “peer,” when the absolute mess is my mind going to catch up?

This has been your existential-ish post-grad rant for the evening. We now return you to your regular programming. 

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