Here's the thing, guys. The internet is filled with articles about being a young, 20-something millennial. Some say this is the time to spend what money you are able to muster on travel, while others implore you to save your money now if you want to be happy when you're 40. Perhaps finding yourself in your 20s is the time to become carefree, selfish, and ephemeral – or perhaps it is a time to be practical and arrange for your future. Whichever option you choose to believe, whichever path you choose to take, I think it is fair to say this is an inevitably confusing time in our lives.

But, what exactly makes it so damn confusing? I reached an epiphany a few days ago at work, at the “big girl job” I've had for a year and a half where I work 40 hours a week to pay for my own rent and bills. I've proven to be reliable, responsible, and perfectly capable of supporting myself. This should make me become qualified as a grown-up, right? You'd think. Yet I, along with my Millennial peers, struggle to truly adopt this feeling of being “grown-up”.

We are expected to act grown-up in all aspects of our lives – yet simultaneously are still viewed as children. This became very apparent in my experience as I attempted to have a professional conversation having a family member of a gymnast I coach – and she or he patted me on the back and called me sweetie. Twice. Excuse me for attempting to communicate myself as an authoritative figure responsible for your daughter.

We are required to act grown-up in all aspects of our lives – yet simultaneously are still considered children.

How am I expected to view myself like a competent, responsible adult when those who seem like real adults (over the age of me, have a child, etc) pat me on the back and call me sweetie?! Inside my job where I am attempting to portray myself as an authoritative figure, believe it or not. Can we take a minute to consider that this is probably really freaking frustrating? Excellent.

Let's examine the list below of five contradictory ways 20-somethings are treated:

  1. Your older colleagues call you the baby, even though you all perform the same job.
  2. People regularly remark at how much older than you they think.
  3. Baby names! The dentist called me sweetie before I visited (a month ago).
  4. You feel so old whenever you visit your college friends. However, you feel so young when you’re around your new work friends. Which one is it?
  5. You graduated college. This should be in a position to land you a job, right? Well, the super great thing about the current job market is nearly all jobs require experience – even the most entry-level positions. WTF?

This is why 20-somethings are confused! We get mixed messages that come from each side of the spectrum. Are we said to be grown-ups, or do we accept grown-ups as they look down upon us, pat us around the back and call us sweetie? Apparently, it's both. This intersection is strictly what leaves us scratching our heads, not able to figure out our place.

Are we said to be grown-ups, or do we accept grown-ups as they look down upon us, pat us on the back and call us sweetie?

I can't claim that I actually know how to adult. I still ask my mom/dad/Google benign questions that adults should maybe know the answers to. I'm still figuring exactly what my path is in life. However, you know what? I am doing my favorite to navigate this phase of my life – we all are. We may not have the answers, but we're working on it. So sure, we're young. That doesn't mean we aren't also responsible, capable, and professional within our work.

Treat us as such, please.