You guys, I really like my office’s intern. I didn’t want to like her. She is a teenager, aka an adult’s natural enemy. She shares my table, which is not great for me, a compensated employee. But she is awesome. She wears minimal to no make-up at work. She’s super duper tall, which is NBD to her. She eats as much as she wants and jokes about it and doesn’t give a shit. She has meetings with partners. She reads finance books and is good at math. She is assertive on a male dominated trading floor. We bonded over Tide pens. It’s not that I want to wear her skin or anything, but I do think she’s a badass.
So I had to smile the other day when a senior analyst was giving her advice and she kept cutting him off to finish his sentences. I am familiar with this habit, and it comes from not wanting to look ignorant. It’s what I do when I get nervous and it is annoying. Any kind person, like this analyst, understands this habit and lets it slide. We’re all just small town girls, living in this lonely world, etc.
Last week, I had to hunt down my high school transcript for a job application. Upon receipt, I realized I’d taken the SATs three times. I can’t stop thinking about that. Why would anyone take the SATs three times? I wasn’t trying to get into Harvard. I didn’t even apply for an academic degree. I wish I could take my own little teenaged hands in my grown-up, basically same-sized hands and tell me not to worry so much. I hate it when other people say that but it’s true. Working towards a goal and over-preparing/compensating are different things. Even though this intern is much cooler than I was at her age (re: Math Skills, not giving a shit), I wanted to say, “Chill out. No one expects you to know everything and if you listen more than you talk, you will learn more.”
Instead I sat there silently and worked on my own stuff, because nothing is more annoying than unsolicited advice from a semi-stranger* and realized that this intern, who I so did not want to share my space with originally, is helping me. She is the Thomas Ian Nicholas to my Gary Busey. Soon she will be gone, back to college or whatever it is that she does, and I will be left a little wiser and with lots of stories about “that damn kid….”
*Today on the subway, this guy told me he could see my phone in my pocket and someone might steal it, which would have been nice except that he was really angry at me over it, so instead of gratitude, I just felt shame. I would never put that on my cool intern.