Posture, Maturity, and Wanting to be Old

The word “posture” sounds so high-class. I always imagine someone like Dame Maggie Smith slapping my slouching back with a ruler and telling me to watch my posture. It’s also a very easy word to repeat five or six times and start laughing at its loss of meaning.

I’m sure it’s good for my back to sit up straight. My back aches a lot, and better posture would probably make my back stronger, and allow for less unhappiness there. Plus, it makes you look professional and more mature.

As a person who could pass for a young teenager, it is often hard to get people to take me seriously. I’m not intimidating in the slightest, and was offered the children’s menu until I was about 16, which makes getting a job in a professional environment quite difficult to say the least.

In the spring of 2015 I got an internship that was huge for me, but before I showed up in the office I knew I had some work to do. I bought an all new wardrobe of work pants and “professional-looking” tops, wore only nice shoes, styled my hair every morning, and worked on my damn posture. Of course, I’m so introverted none of that really mattered.

I was uncomfortable in my costume and felt I seemed outrageously tall when sitting up straight. My hair was sticking up in the back for sure. I was insecure about the strangest things even beyond my appearance. I didn’t eat lunch because I was afraid someone would comment on my choice of meal. I only called clients when the air conditioner kicked in or one of my coworkers in a nearby cubicle was also on the phone because I felt my voice sounded silly. I made sure to go to the bathroom at least twice a day because more than once people commented on how little I left my cube.

It doesn’t matter how straight you sit or how nice your clothes and hair are. If you’re not confident, you’re not confident, and if you’re uncomfortable, you’re uncomfortable. For me, it all boiled down to age. I felt too young.

I realize being young is a quintessential part of being an intern. The whole point is that you’re inexperienced and not ready for a job, so you get an internship, I get it. But I felt like I completely didn’t belong due to my age, even though I was about the same age as the other interns. I knew they thought I looked young, and tried to stay out of their way, which led to me not talking, which led to my voice getting weaker, which led to a fear of eating in the office, which led to me being incredibly hungry four days a week for ten weeks.

I find nothing wrong with wanting to be older, wanting to be mature, or wanting better posture. Each of those are valid things to want. I would argue, however, that age does not define you. Buy more mature clothes, sit up straight, but finally and most importantly, act older. If I spoke clearly, they may not have treated me like I was over my head. If I felt accepted, I might have had the confidence to eat a sandwich during lunch hour. It all boils down to actions.

So, listen to Dame Maggie Smith and correct your posture. It just might help you feel older.

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