I never thought being 24 would ever feel like a glaring disadvantage.
Age discrimination is usually absent from my entire field of thought. If you can do something and do it well, I don’t care how old you are. If you’re a 16 year old Olympian getting gold medals left and right, I might be a little jealous and question what I’ve been working toward in my personal endeavors, but good on you. If you’re 76 and memorized the entirety of Paradise Lost, which you can recite in three eight-hour sessions, I might question having ever majored in English but again, good on you. People are well equipped to learn things at any point in their life, and if they’ve got the skills, so to speak, they’re good in my book.
At 24, I am decently equipped to be the teacher I am; I work part time, attending my two MWF classes in an atmosphere that fits my pedagogical beliefs. I have a good degree from a good school, and as long as I continue to learn and improve in my own practices, I have my heart set on becoming the next Ms. Frizzle of the Liberal Arts.
A fun fact they gloss over in college: teaching involves many secret degrees. You need to master and balance the following: sociology, anthropology, language, semantics, coaching, counseling, applied economics, critical and creative thinking, and human sciences.
Unfortunately, your lack of secret degree mastery at 24 comes from a huge lack of experience. I usually chalk it up to the amount of time spent as a teacher behind a desk, which admittedly isn’t long. If you count my student teaching run, I’ve been a teacher for about a year. I’ve only run my OWN classroom for half of one with midterms just on the horizon. This job is unfortunate in that you can’t get experience unless you’re thrown into it, no matter how much reading you do or how many college degrees you have. Teaching will always and forever will be a verb, and to become the noun you must verb it up substantially.
A fun fact they gloss over in life: You will never live through enough to appropriately and constructively address any and every situation, but you will be expected to do so anyway.
I sat in an IEP meeting where a student stormed out in the first five minutes and refused to come back to school because she felt betrayed by our director. She sat crying in her mom’s car while mom, visibly stressed, snapped at dad and listed her grievances towards our director and the case manager. She was told only the director would be privy to the name change on the IEP and now she had no idea what was going to happen to her daughter over the weekend, and whether she would want to come back to our school again after making so much progress, or if she would threaten suicide again. The case manager insisted that certain information had been passed on to the parents before, and the draft sent to them was meant to help them review it before this meeting and if they saw the mistake they should have pointed it out. Dad agreed with most of the things the case director said and didn’t seem fazed.
I sat silently, realizing how young 24 actually felt and how little I knew about the world. I was the kid at the dinner table while mom and dad fought over who was more wrong.
After the director returned from shuttling students to the annex building of the school, the parents left, he spoke with the case director, and everyone left.
"Do you want my job?" he asked, smiling wryly.
I shook my head. “I’m too young for this,” I said.
"And I’m too old for this."
A fun fact they gloss over in general: You will have more moments of clarity when you allow yourself to gain perspective on any given subject.
24 feels like a glaring disadvantage, but everyone was 24 once. I’ll grow out of it and into some legitimate form of an adult. Even if I never age into a proper adult, I think it will at least help me to become a more well equipped person that can help other people navigate the world a little bit better.