People tend to assume that if you're quiet then you're a deep thinker.
I have a habit of zoning out and staring at things for long periods of time. Which, aside from being a conveniently cheap boredom killer, means that people often think I'm thinking deeply about something. I'm often trying to work out the proportional relationship between getting another coffee and how soon I'll need to pee again. And yet because I'm quiet, people think I'm contemplating the state of governance in East Timor.
We make these assumptions about people all the time. Beautiful women are arrogant, lawyers are whip smart, teachers are selfless and middle-aged women in cardigans are kind.
What about us babes in the wood - those bright young things? People love to attach myths to us. Take these for example ...
1. "God, dating a 23-year-old girl would be so great ... " Something I've often heard from wistful middle-aged dudes. I get that 20 somethings are springy. I get that they're supple. But trust me, you really don't want to date us.
My mental commentary is something like, "Oh God, this skirt is too short ... did Matilda drink my milk? Maybe she's angry because of what I said last week about her eyebrows ... oh God! She hates me! Christ, I just flashed someone ... I'm going to call her right ... n-oooh, he's hot."
Surely you remember being 20 something? We're a ball of insecurity, the need to please, self absorption, vanity and Nutella. It's exhausting just being us, let alone dating us.
2. "Our social media intern is 21 because all young people are good at social media".
I have the social media savvy of a hedgehog. But I have been, as have many other young things, given social media internships purely because I'm young. And because I know enough tech buzzwords to scare adults.
Yes, we've grown up with smart phones. But we normally use them in a personal capacity. We can filter an instagram photo. But that doesn't mean we understand how to use social media to market and develop business strategies. That's a skill where you have to know all forms of social media, markets and audience requirements. The people who are good at that are still existing ad execs who just aren't scared of technology.
3. "Young people are so much more confident than we were."
Again, I get why people say this. We run around the Viaduct at night in our knickers, swear freely and have conversations on buses about blow jobs. We look confident.
Don't be fooled. Despite the flashiness, we are actually terrified we're doing everything wrong, have nothing to contribute to a conversation, are not worthy of love or sex and adults will find us stupid and monotonous.
If I'm ever being loud and confident it's because I'm overcompensating for a feeling that I should really shut up and sit down.
We're overawed by older people - you're the confident ones. You guys can have coffee on your own, return things in shops, manage a bank account, raise children and find time to buy chia seeds. We're still eating Nutella for dinner.
4. "Young people these days are so open minded."
Hmmm. Yes, well, we're more in favour of issues like gay marriage, feminism, ethical production standards ... But is that because we're more open minded than previous generations?
Ethical stances on issues like sexism or carbon emissions are part of our generation's set of received ideas. Take climate change. Pioneers in the 70s changed society by establishing the idea that climate change is bad. We inherited this culture.
So now we recycle because we've grown up being told that climate change is bad - but the majority of us don't give daily consideration to the terrible impact of Kit Kats on deforestation.
Those pioneers were open minded, but our absorption of their ideals doesn't necessarily mean we are.
5. "Young people have great sex."
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. No.