Being Taken Seriously

by Elizabeth on November 17, 2011 · 21 comments

in struggles

Do people take you seriously?  Or do they dismiss you because you are young, old, fat, thin, white, black, short, tall, smart, sarcastic, blond, funny, pretty, plain, or any 100 other things?

People do not take me seriously.  It’s been a running trend throughout my life.  I have no problems in making myself heard, but I struggle with getting people to listen, believe, and respond to what I am saying.

Example: Tuesday, when I went to the doctor for the second time in two weeks for the sinus infection from hell, all I got was “your scans look fine, here’s a steroid shot”.  He didn’t ask me about my symptoms, barely looked at me, and when I asked about potential side affects with my other medicines and could we talk a little about my anxiety/depression issues, he basically blew me off.  I left the office feeling like he was not taking my illness nor my raging mood swings seriously.  He dismissed me because I appeared fine.

Example: I am constantly called a secretary at work by new library patrons.  They want to know where the librarian is, they need to talk with her.  When I say I am the librarian, they look at me in confusion.  Some have even asked how old I am.  My age makes people question me.

Doctors don’t take me seriously.  Library patrons, administration and physicians alike, don’t take me seriously.  Sometimes my parents don’t take me seriously.  I feel like my friends don’t always either.

I am a naturally serious person, which is why all of this is confusing for me.  Other than being young, I don’t fit the classic (and totally stereotypical) image of someone who doesn’t get taken seriously.  I am not short, I don’t look younger than I am, I am not blond or ditzy, I dress professionally 90% of the time, I try to portray myself as the smart, slightly sassy person that I am.  Unless I’m being purposely funny or relaxing, I take myself and my work very seriously.

But for some reason no one else does.  I am constantly overlooked, dismissed, ignored, or laughed at.  I am truly offended by people, from strangers in Starbucks to my family, not taking me seriously.

Do people take you seriously?  Does it bother you when they don’t?

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Megg November 17, 2011 at 3:07 pm

If you’re still having trouble with your depression on your meds, then you definitely need to see your dr. again. And if you aren’t, I’d HIGHLY recommend seeing a psychologist. Mine is wonderful and worked with me really closely to make sure my dose and medication were right for ME. Don’t just rely on whatever they throw at you because there are tons of options out there, and not everything is right for everyone.


2 Elizabeth November 18, 2011 at 8:41 am

Yes, this is something I’ve been thinking about for a while. I might have to look into it a little bit more.


3 Ginger November 17, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Thanks for this ! NO, people don’t take me seriously. I wish I knew why, but my theory is that it has to do with being young and smiling a lot.


4 Elizabeth November 18, 2011 at 8:42 am

Something about smiling and generally looking pleasant seems to make people take you less seriously. I refuse to be a grumpy gus though. I can be serious AND smile!


5 Susan November 17, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Youth does cause people to not take one seriously. When I was your age I fought the same problems. You are talented, smart and beautiful and those things are be intimdating to some people. Continue on your journey and when you get old like me you will wish people still thought of you too young to take seriously:)


6 Elizabeth November 18, 2011 at 8:44 am

Thanks, Mom. 🙂

But I don’t think that youth should be an excuse. I am an adult; have been legally for almost 8 (yikes) years. I refuse to allow people to run all over me or dismiss me because of my age. Just because I am young doesn’t mean I am ignorant.


7 Jayla November 17, 2011 at 6:32 pm

I find a lot of people don’t take me too serious. It happens often enough that I get annoyed. Doctors, older adults, and even friends seem to think I am just saying or doing something to waste my breath/time.


8 Jessica (@gardenJess) November 17, 2011 at 9:01 pm

Ugh, how frustrating. And on the doctor thing – if you’re doctor isn’t taking you seriously it’s ok to find another one.


9 Amber November 18, 2011 at 8:33 am

I completely and totally feel your pain.

Being 25 and working in a college can be a serious pain in the rear. I get mistaken for a student all. the. flipping. time. At Orientation this summer, I almost had to take a mother to my office to show her my Master’s degree because she wouldn’t believe that (a) I was qualified to advise her little snowflake (b) I wasn’t actually a student. One parent mistook me for a HIGH SCHOOL student. GRRR. It’s REALLY a pain when I have to work with another department on campus, because 98% they think I’m a student and just blow me off (or worse) but quickly change their tune when I inform them that I am actually a University employee, which irritates me even more that they would be rude to students. Ick. So frustrating.

And chime to: “You are talented, smart and beautiful and those things are be intimdating to some people.”


10 Elizabeth November 18, 2011 at 8:47 am

I’ll never forget that time that an airport employee was positive Christine was an unaccompanied minor who needed assistance. That was one of the funniest things that I have ever witnessed.

Hopefully we will still be mistaken for college students 10 years from now. Perhaps our youthful appearances will have an advantage!


11 Elspeth @ paper armour November 18, 2011 at 9:44 am

Wow, that was really disrespectful of that mother to disbelieve you to that degree! A surprised “really?” is weird enough, but to actually need proof?


12 Andria November 18, 2011 at 9:14 am

Not being taken seriously was one of the reasons I was really looking forward to getting older. Problem is, people seem to guess my age correctly, but often fail to take me seriously still. I know it could be a lot worse, but just a heads up, it might last a while for you.

I wonder sometimes, is it because I try to stay lighthearted and positive? I’m not severe enough? I’m not assertive enough? I certainly think, in the case of your doctor, you need to be like “no, this is not working and you are not leaving the room until we sort it out.” Maybe practicing being assertive will give you a more authoritative demeanor. Try it with the cat first 🙂


13 Amy @ Feathered Friendsy November 18, 2011 at 7:05 pm

People don’t take me seriously because I look like I’m 12 and it makes me VERY angry. One day not too long ago, I was buying a rated R movie at Wal-Mart and the employee carded me (you have to be 17 to buy one). After looking at my ID, he accused me of having a fake one and demanded to scan it through the system to verify its authenticity. I wanted to punch him in the face, but I just smiled and complied.

People also tend to not take me seriously because I have tattoos. Yes, clearly, ink on my skin means I have no brains. *sigh*

I also get people who make remarks about me being a “teenage mother” (for the record to anyone who doesn’t know me, I’m married and 25) and how I’m so irresponsible for getting pregnant at “such a young age” & “more than once!!!!”

So yeah, I feel your pain. Maybe we just need to be meaner?


14 Melanie November 19, 2011 at 9:43 am

I look younger than I am, apparently, and people don’t take me seriously. Proof in point (conversation with a library patron not too long ago):
Man: I have a problem about X and need to speak to whoever is in charge!
Me: That would be me. What is the problem?
Man: No, I mean an actual employee, not a student.
Me: That would be me. What is the problem?
Man: No, I mean your supervisor. Who is in charge today?
Me: That would be me. What is the problem?
Man: The manager of this desk! Who is it and where can I talk to him?!!?
Me: That would be me. What is the problem?
Man: *gives up and walks off*
Me: *goes back to my office to finish my lunch*


15 Amy @ Feathered Friendsy November 19, 2011 at 11:56 am

LOL well at least it diffused the situation….


16 Elizabeth November 20, 2011 at 10:40 am

Wow. It sounds like you handled that really well. I’ve never had a patron not believe me after I say that I am in fact in charge. They always look skeptical, but I guess it’s easier to believe since there is no one else in the library who can help them.


17 Amy @ Feathered Friendsy November 19, 2011 at 11:57 am

I notice that everyone commenting is a woman. I’m wondering if we took a poll of the men we know – how many of them would have similar stories? It seems to me that people seem to take men (even young men) more seriously than women. Perhaps I’m mistaken, but I think I’m going to ask the guys in my life and see what their take on it is.


18 Elizabeth November 20, 2011 at 10:43 am

I think you are right, Amy. People always take men more seriously. I guarantee that if a man my age did my job he would never be questioned or called a secretary.


19 Cate November 29, 2011 at 9:39 am

I totally thought I’d posted a comment here already. Apparently not!

Honestly, I’m not sure whether or not people take me seriously. I’m very short and petite, and people often mistake me for younger than I am. (Even after I got married, hairdressers ALWAYS asked me “What school do you go to?” thinking I would respond with the name of a high school instead of a college.)

My husband, Jason, is about 9 years older than me, though he looks a bit younger than his age. When I’m with him, I never get carded for anything. Waiters used to offer me the wine menu and talk to me about their wine options when I was still underage. In fact, I’ve never been carded buying alcohol EXCEPT for one time when a 21-year-old friend and I were picking up a bottle of wine. The man behind the register looked at us VERY skeptically and examined our licenses for a long time.

But, despite my size and obvious youth, I think people take me a little more seriously simply because I always look a little pissed off. I’m not, but my default expression looks, if not angry, a bit dissatisfied. Maybe people think I’m mean?


20 Elizabeth November 29, 2011 at 1:01 pm

I do think that people take other people more seriously when they look serious. Smiling, seemingly happy people are often mistaken for being silly and not believable.


21 Elizabeth November 29, 2011 at 2:52 pm

I just want to let you all know that I have edited this post and removed a few comments based on something that has recently come to light. If your comment was removed, it has nothing to do with you, but with a situation I’m in currently in.

Thanks! Love you all!


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