Sunday, March 1, 2015

10 Lessons From A 20-Something

Soon to be 26, I just realized that my twenties will be over before I know it. I mean, the last 5 years went in a blur from college to the professional world. This post is for my fellow 20-somethings! Here are 10 things I've learned so far about being a 20-something (note: I tried to title this "Coffee Solves Everything" but honesty wouldn't allow it and after all, that's only 1 lesson. But coffee does help!).
1. Keep It Real

I'm an idealist. I'll be the first to admit it. But in all honesty, it's important to have a healthy dose of realism. I had a lot of things I wanted to accomplish by the time I turned 25 - some of which haven't happened yet! I'm still working on these things, and that's okay. Dream, but keep it realistic!

2. Patience Child, Patience

We've heard the phrase, all good things to those who wait. Some things take a lot of hard work, perseverance, and patience. Remember to be patient, because ultimately, each baby step brings you closer to your goals. Never forget that.

3. Get It Done Now

I was a terrible procrastinator in college. I'd have a 12 page paper due for my Shakespeare course and I'd wait until 3 days before it was due to start it - when I had known about it for 2 months. While my college self enjoyed the challenge of writing a paper on a deadline (and because I like writing, it essentially turned into a competition with myself on how well I could write in a short time frame), this is not a good mentality to have in the "real world." Get it done now. Seriously. You'll thank yourself for it later.

4. Network, Network, Network!

Nobody remembers a hermit. Use your twenties to connect with other people in your life - whether it be for career or personal interests! It's important to build a strong network of people you can trust.

5. Keep On Learning

In the professional world, for some it can be easy to get bored very quickly. I am thankful to have a job that is different every day, but this isn't the case for everyone. Do things to challenge your mind. Learn something new, or pick up a new hobby. Who knows? You may discover a new lifelong interest!

6. Work With The End Goal In Mind

This applies for a lot of things. When you have a vision on what you want from life, it makes it easier to put those dreams in action. For example: I know I want to pursue book publications. I have a program in mind and a rough financial plan to make the continuing education happen. This is a large scale example, but smaller things count too! Ex. I want a Fender acoustic-electric guitar and a good amp. I'm working on a savings plan to make it happen (they're expensive!). Working with the end in mind makes it easier to stay on track.

7. Smile More

Sounds simple I know, but let me explain. In my experience, people like happy people (and if you are one of those perpetual grumps, sorry, not sure how I can help you). Turn that frown upside down! People remember kind, cheerful, and smiling people who aren't a constant Johnny Raincloud. So maybe when you do have a bad day, week, month, whatever - there will be someone to help ease that stress of a bad time.

8. Take Time For Things You Love

I have to remind myself of this constantly. Yesterday was the first time I'd been to Barnes & Noble (my favorite local haunt) in over a month. Yikes. And while there, it was almost as though I could feel the stress from life things melting away while browsing for books. Doesn't just have to be a bookstore for me. Playing piano. Playing guitar. Painting. Archery. A myriad of things really. Whatever you love, do it - even in the midst of your busy life.

9. Let It Go

This encompasses a lot. Learn how to let things go. Don't be a perpetual grudge-holder. When something goes wrong (as so many things do in life!), acknowledge the problem, do what you can to fix it, and adjust your attitude. Holding onto things only makes you bitter, and in the end, it's only hurting you because everyone else moved on a long time ago. Let it go.

10. Love What You Do

I think this merits all capital letters: LOVE WHAT YOU DO. I mean it. I love a lot of things, but loving my career is important. It has its ups and downs to be sure, but at the end of the day, it matters to me and matters to others. And it's not just teaching - I love the other things I do too! Writing for GenTwenty, working with the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, doing theatre work, and so much more!
Fellow 20-somethings: what else would you add to this list?

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