What's your problem?

I work in a financial services agency, staffed by people in their twenties and thirties. At 61, I'm considered past it.

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

My younger colleagues are friendly, but I think they patronise me and don't take my ideas seriously. I'm sick of feeling that my age means I lack energy and creative ability. Can I alter my colleagues' perception of me, or should I look for work in a more age-friendly office?

A: I wonder how much of this is real and how much of it is being manufactured inside your head? It could be a bit of both, of course; but I strongly suspect that you're so painfully conscious of the 30-year age difference that you're looking at life through a magnifying glass. How do you know that you're considered past it? If you were, why do you still have this job? Why do you feel that your age means you 'lack energy and creative ability'? Does anyone else share that feeling? And don't you believe, with some justification, that you have a store of wisdom and experience that no 20-year-old, however bright, could possibly have acquired?

I also suspect that much of your neurosis springs from a kind of isolation.

If there were two or three of you of about the same age, you would be much less sensitive about the issue.

So I implore you not to try to alter your colleagues' perception of you.

Don't start wearing trainers and reading Zoo. Be yourself, play to your strengths, share your experience - and let your confidence in the quality of your work speak for itself.

- Jeremy Bullmore has been creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London and a non-executive director of the Guardian Media Group; he is a non-executive director of WPP. Address your problems to Jeremy Bullmore at: editorial@mtmagazine.co.uk. Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.

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