My nephew was born recently, and I was able to be there for his birth and tag along for many doctor’s appointments. There were times when the doctor, nurse or other medical professional would walk into our room and be undoubtedly younger than me. I started noticing that my first thought was, “You can’t be serious. How does this kid know anything?” Then I stopped and realized how wrong that idea is.
Just because someone is younger than me doesn’t mean that I am automatically smarter. In order for these men and women to enter the exam room, they had to go through years of education and testing that far exceed my own education.
So why do I have this bias?
Life experience is important. There are some things you just can’t teach from books. However, that automatically doesn’t put a younger-faced doctor below my 30-something self. Their education and specialized training far outweigh my ability to give medical advice.
After the initial shock, I found another emotion hiding beneath the surface: jealousy. My subconscious went into this spiral of putting myself down, “Look how successful that younger person is with their career. What have you done with your life, Kristina?” I found myself thinking of how I too could become a doctor if I started today. Oh how often I have listened to that voice in the past.
Seriously. I have no desire to ever become a doctor. So why was I letting a younger doctor’s sheer presence affect me so much?
It has a lot to do with how I have been treated as a younger adult. I still struggle with older generations who don’t think that I know anything. It is this sad creeping sort of judgment that my generation face every day. We are asked to respect our elders but in turn don’t get that same respect when it is warranted.
Unfortunately, I let those same assumptions about my own knowledge seep into my subconscious and in turn judged those younger than me. It was a good wake up call to view people for their talents instead of their age. So the next time you are faced with a younger professional, please give them the opportunity to serve you and believe them when they give you advice.
Kristina Phelan is a former Spokane-area resident now living in Illinois. www.mamabear moxie.com. Visit her website at www.mamabearmoxie.com.
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