5 Things Every 20-Something Should Know
Mid-20’s Advice on Living, Growing, and Everything in Between
I’m another year older, and more than the flowers and the cards and the calls from loved ones that have made me feel so special, I am celebrating where I am this year.
Because for the first time since my liberal arts education that left me with uncertain plans, I feel that I’m on the right path.
Getting here wasn’t all that easy. Six months ago as I sat on a plane heading back to Massachusetts, and I felt something break inside of me. I wasn’t just leaving my sweetheart on yet another long-distance stint, I was also going back to a career path that just wasn’t working.
I realized that it held none of that fresh excitement for me. None of the awe I had in studying Arabic, none of the energy I have when writing, and not even a speck of the rush I feel when climbing.
It was just a duty that I was responding to, a need to be responsible and choose something.
I let all of that go this year.
I realized I could do something I love, and succeed at something that I’m good at. This letting go allowed me to grow, and came only when I mastered each of the ideas outlined below.
So here are the big things I learned this year, straight from the keyboard of a freshly-minted 26-year-old.
1. Make Big Moves
Embrace the uncomfortable, the new, and the scary. Move to a new place, leave your mundane job for a new one, explore new career paths, and meet new people. Big uncomfortable moves are what define us as human beings. When we live comfortably in our shells we risk having a fishbowl existence, (read Muriel Barbery’s book), which according to some (and I would agree) is one of the worst possible outcomes.
2. Be Fierce
As someone recently told me, “Be Fierce — no one’s going to do it for you.” This was said to me on an evening as I sat, hand poised over the send button of an introductory email to a famous female mountaineer. Could I really just write to her out of the clear blue sky? Turns out I could. And having this kind of fearlessness is what separates your success from your failure.
3. Say Yes
This is just a trendy way of saying be open. Saying YES is what your twenties are all about. When I think back on the last year and all of the things I have come to love simply because I gave them a chance, it’s remarkable how many of those things I would have missed had I not said yes.
4. March to your own beat
It’s something we all struggle with. But the older you get the more you know yourself — and you have trust in this. This isn’t high school or college. You will come to know yourself better than your best friends, better than your parents, and better even than your significant other. And this will happen because you’re growing up. Don’t be afraid of it. Embrace your process for getting things done, making positive changes, being creative, and having downtime. Know that your pace is the one that matters, not the crowd’s and not even your closest circle should change that.
5. Believe in yourself to the point of madness
I feel as though I am stealing this line from someone . But this builds off of being bold. You must believe in the beauty of your dreams — nearly to the point of madness. You must have the attitude that you deserve opportunities. Be grateful yes, but also be confident. Have a can-do will-do attitude and this confidence will translate into your professional relationships. People will recognize it and be drawn to it — and then the rest is just up to you.
“The best journeys answer questions that in the beginning, you didn’t even think to ask” — 180° South