Am I 41… or 14?

Here’s a good question of the day for you…. Am I the only one who still feels like a child? I don’t mean the child-inside stuff, playing with toys and childish behavior. I mean like you are a child surrounded by adults; or are surrounded by people senior to you and are the new kid in the room.

As an example, the company that I manage some properties for built a 20-unit condominium development when I was still a direct employee of theirs. As part of managing that business venture, I also managed the condominium association. Last year, when the condo association transferred from the control of the developer (or declarant control) over to the association, I was asked to stay on as a member of the board of directors, and to continue to “pay the bills” as the secretary/treasurer for the association. Last night, we had a board meeting… and we are all equals. The board appreciates the detail in the minutes, and the detail and care I put into the financials and recommending budgets. However, as I drove away from the meeting last night, I got that same feeling that I am the “wet behind the ears” new guy. You know the feeling, you go to some social event with the parents where they introduce you to people they know… or in business, you go to some event with the boss as the new guy and you get introduced to others but understand your role is more passive in nature.

Is this just me?

If I was the new guy, this would make more sense. However, I have been involved with this condo association longer than any of the owners… and the same amount of time as the original owner/developer.

I still have this feeling when I go to large conferences, like the affordable housing conference I went to this summer, or the apartment association conference I am attending next month. I feel like I am the new guy, surrounded not by peers, but by people I am junior too. As an elected leader of my chosen industry (I am the current president of the Wisconsin Apartment Association), this feeling of being surrounded by people senior to me makes little sense.

I am 41 years old, I am actually my dad’s employer (boss if you will). And that works when on the clock. But when off the clock, I am still the little kid whose job it is to hold the flashlight and stay out of the way. Don’t get me wrong, my dad does nothing to make me feel this way… it is just that feeling. It is hard to describe.


About drrent

Wausau, Wisconsin Landlord, past president of the Wisconsin Apartment Association, Host of the Dr Rent Radio Show on WNRB-LP, 93.3 FM, Wausau, WI
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3 Responses to Am I 41… or 14?

  1. Mohawk Matt says:

    John, I sent you a message on here the other day, don’t know if you got it or not.

    Anyway, as far as this post goes, I have had the same thing happen, on a far smaller scale. I was brought on as a manager at a bar a guy owned (he owned more than one), and even though I “had equal say” it bar matters, I felt that I wasn’t a part of the management club.

    He would take the other guys out on a night on the town, and I, being the good employee I am, stayed at the bar and missed out on the “good ol’ boy” fun. Needless to say, when it came time for respect to be doled out, I got the short end, and felt like I was the short kid in class.

  2. Matt, I have seen no message, but then again I am not fully computer-literate so it may be there somewhere and I have yet to find it… you can also try email at

    You make some good points, I do mirror blog posts at the Daily Herald and in the comment thread there, I admit that my surprising low self-esteem levels could play a role.

    However, I can see where once a relationship is formed, it doesn’t change much. In this condo association, I am one of 5 board members and an officer on that board… however, when it was under Declarant control, I was his assistant, doing the legal work and the accounting work… an underling. So, it makes sense that even though the actual job title has changed, the job itself has not so I am still the underling.

  3. John — I think that a lot of people feel this way, if they are honest with themselfs. I know I still feel that way in certain contexts — and I am 41 years old also.

    To be honest, reading about all of your life expreience in your blog these past months . . . military, business, rental, political etc etc. . . . . I just assumed you were much older than me — because you have so much knowledge.

    I also feel that way when I watch the NCCA basketball tourney. Those college athletes are so talented and handle the pressure so well — I think back to when I was 15 and watching the games — and assume the players are older than me becasue they are so composed (most of them) — but then I remember many of them can’t even legally drink a beer — and I have been drinking for many years : )

    Don’t even get me started about how I feel when I watch the World Series for Little Lague — they seem so mature and composed, and handle the pressure so well, until they lose and I see them crying then I am reminded just how young they are.

    If we are honest with ourselves, as you are, we all feel inferior iat times even within contexts in which we should not.

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