Your Advice Sucks

Your Advice Sucks 😝😡😱

Well, yeah: I started this #SeeMe Movement, and I’m learning how to start a nonprofit, partially by actually working with nonprofits. [I’m finding that my blend of startup skills, strategy knowledge, and digital media-wonkery is very, very useful for these organizations, but that’s another story.] 

So I’m on a mad hunt, searching for resources, gathering information from my clients, learning how to assemble the pieces into a functional organization. And as I research, I have to stop and calm myself every couple of hours, a necessary defense against the millions of tiny little stabs of annoyance that make me want to tear my eyes out, even when reading well-meaning advice. Actually, MOSTLY when reading well-meaning advice. 

#SeeMe is going to do four things: Provide support for over-40 job-hunters (including advice and a job board); explain the rules around age discrimination and how to tell if it’s happened to you; create an advocacy and lobbying infrastructure; and ultimately, offer a legal fund for folks who’ve been affected by age discrimination. 

It’s the “advice” category that’s making me nuts at the moment. As I’m searching for linkable resources about age discrimination and how to handle yourself while bucking for a promotion, facing a transition, or embarking on a job hunt, here’s what I’m turning up: 

  1. “Keep pace with technology!” This is a real quote: “Considering investing in economical technological equipment like refurbished laptops, computers, tablets, or any other devices and practice your newly acquired skills on them.” [Excuse me a moment, I have to go scream.]
  2. “Demonstrate liveliness!” Another real quote: “That may be an obvious conclusion with a 30-year-old, but as we age, it becomes critical to demonstrate that vibrancy and spirit.”
  3. “Dress your age!” … “Trying to dress and act like the younger employees will only make you lose credibility among them.” [Can someone please give me the GenZ synonym for “barf?” Oh, wait, it’s … “barf?”]
  4. “Take your vitamins!” … “All of these health issues [from aging] can result in your finding it difficult to compete with the high energy levels of the younger crowd … consider opting for plant-based supplements.” [I hope one of those supplements is whiskey. I’ll take a shot of well-aged Rye.] 

I can’t decide if the writers of these columns are actual middle-school students, or if they’re 30-year-olds who truly believe that entering middle age means you’re no longer a responsible adult. 

And herein lies the rub: In this day and age, middle age often seems to be the actual start of adulthood. 20, 25, 30 years plus of work experience, child-rearing, mortgages, illnesses and national traumas are apparently what it takes to make a grownup these days. We’re actually holding the whole country together. And man, do we KNOW. Know how to manage, know how to excel, know how to survive. We’re done with worrying too much about what’s up with the Kardashians. (Although we love Kris Jenner because she runs the hell out of that machine.) We prefer to spend our apparently limited time on the planet getting sh*t done. And considering that we’re the folks who invented all that fancy tech, who are extending the definitions of “vibrancy,” who just keep on going to those Rolling Stone shows, I’d say we have a grip on “liveliness.” 

So, please, please, please — quit talking to us like we are children. As if, after 40, 45, 50 years we don’t know who we are. As if we’re going to try to be someone else, when we’ve earned the toughest prize of all, the one you don’t get until you’re old enough: identity. Instead, let’s talk about seeing the value in that. 

BTW (yes, I know how to use Internet acronyms), I’d challenge any 30-year-old, any day, to see if (s)he can hang with my posse. Most days start with a 6:30 am hike up a major hill, and are often closed out with a tennis match, with hours of work in between. And no one, I repeat, no one, wears mom jeans, because frankly, they’re just too damn hip and who wants to look like a 20-year-old, anyway? 

Check out #SeeMe at time2seeme.org. If you’re so inclined, sign up. No mom jeans necessary. 

Angela Gyetvan