In an insightful TikTok video that has attracted more than 429,000 views, Shola West (@allthingsmediasis) shares her experiences with ageism in the workplace, providing a candid account of young professionals’ challenges and misconceptions.
The video is a powerful narrative about the pitfalls of disclosing one’s age at work, especially when it intersects with ambition and achievement.
Shola begins by reflecting on her early career, where she naively thought revealing her age would garner sympathy and guidance from older colleagues.
“I made the mistake of thinking it was cute to go around telling everybody my age and my first couple of jobs, knowing that I was going to be the youngest,” she said.
However, the reality was starkly different. While some people did offer support, she found that “the majority did not react that way.”
The crux of the issue, as Shola explains, lies in the jealousy and insecurity that can arise when a younger colleague is seen as succeeding or advancing rapidly: “When you have a side hustle, and you’re thriving in the workplace, a lot of people older than you will be jealous.”
Shola recounts a pivotal moment when she confidently sought a promotion, armed with a well-prepared document showcasing her achievements and positive feedback. Her initiative was met with resistance, not because of her qualifications but due to ageism. She vividly recalls about her boss: “She used my age as a scapegoat for why I couldn’t get a promotion.” This incident is a stark reminder of how age can be weaponized in professional settings, undermining merit and ambition.
The video emphasizes that age-related comments are not uncommon in salary and promotion discussions, where young professionals might hear remarks like, “That’s a lot of money for your age.” Shola advises her younger peers clearly and emphatically: “Don’t say your age.” She warns of the potential backlash and the unnecessary hurdles it might create, urging discretion and caution.
Throughout her narrative, Shola underlines the competitive nature of the professional world, where age can be used as a leverage or a hindrance. Her experiences are a cautionary tale for other young professionals navigating the corporate landscape.
“The working world is a dog-eat-dog world, OK? Age isn’t even a thing. People will tread, step, smash over you to get to the top.”
Numerous people connected with West’s video, commenting with similar ageism claims and the sometimes accompanying changes in attitudes at work.
“This!!!” wrote one commenter, saying she’s had similar ageism struggles. “I’ve never been undermined like this in my life.”
“I told someone my actual age at work (I was 27 then), and her face dropped because she thought I was 22,” said another person. “Attitude immediately changed.”
Another wrote: “She is completely right!! As a manager at 24, jealousy is real, especially in the corporate world.”
One person talked explicitly about their salary, writing, “I got promoted, and it doubled my wage; I still get comments about my age and don’t get taken seriously. It’s a struggle.”
@allthingsmediasis Telling people I was 20 backfired. I wouldn’t make that mistake again🙅🏽♀️ #corporatelife #workpolitics #20something @College & Career Ready by Baki #ageism ♬ original sound – Shola West| Career Sis
Shola’s candid discussion derived from when a person chooses to reveal their age resonates with many who have encountered ageism or have felt undermined due to their youth. It’s a call to be aware of the dynamics at play in professional environments and to protect oneself against potential biases. Her story continues to spread and spark conversations, highlighting the ongoing need to address and challenge ageism in all its forms.
The Daily Dot has contacted Shola West (@allthingsmediasis) via TikTok comment for further insights into this compelling issue.