I’m reminded often that I look like a 12 year-old.
Not kidding. Strangers tell me this all the time.
This can be frustrating. In my own head, I’m much older even than my 21 years, and I normally do things which people take several more years into their careers to do. My young face betrays that (by the world’s standards) I’m a little young to be doing this.
There’s a bright side to being underestimated, though, and that’s an easy opportunity to overdeliver and outperform peoples’ expectations of you.
If you’re in the same boat as me as a young person in the workplace, you probably already know that.
But there’s another benefit of having a baby face: you still have the element of cuteness.
The evolutionary biologists say that cuteness evolved to ensure parental bonding to the young of a species. If you’re cute, you’re more likely to get the attention and resources you need to survive.
Weird, I know.
But if you find yourself in the frustrating spot of being (frequently) reminded of your youth, now you know there’s a way to turn it to your advantage.
1. People are less likely to reject you.
Say you’re reaching out to a big name journalist. If someone sees you as an adorable little kid, they might be more willing to give you a chance.
2. People are more likely to root for you.
Cuteness generally gets a benevolent response from people. It gives people pleasure to see cute people happy, so they’ll root for you to succeed.
3. People are more likely to give you a second chance.
If you mess up, most people will soften the blow for you a bit. Own your own failures, and take the steps to do better, but don’t refuse the grace which having fresh-faced youth can help you earn on the job.
4. People are more likely to give you information and mentorship.
When you’re a cute-faced kid, people don’t view you as a competitor or as a threat. You’re a potential mentee, so they’ll often be glad to teach you the things they know and feed you information/insight/advice they wouldn’t give to people their own age.
So go out there and get things done. Don’t let age come into it, but when it does, own your cuteness. It won’t last forever, so don’t get used to it either.