I am now in my mid-twenties. 24 going on 25, actually.
Now, I don’t say that because the numbers frightens me to my very core, because it doesn’t really bother me all that much, I say it to put things into perspective. I finished college at age 21 and I have had four years in the “real world.”
You know what I have to say about trying to navigate your early twenties? Not so fun, and definitely not so easy. You spend 50% of the time searching for the slightest shred of a feeling that resembles accomplishment and the other 50% of the time staring down the empty bottle of cheap Chardonnay you killed watching The Office on Netflix because you couldn’t afford to go to the bar.
1. You will learn…a lot.
I think this goes for any stage of your life, but your early 20’s in particular. And sometimes you don’t learn things the easy way. Diving into the workforce at a job that is not ringing groceries, moving out of your parent’s house into a home that is not on a college campus, cooking real food that is not microwaveable mozzarella sticks or mac & cheese. You’re in the big leagues now. Finding your footing is not easy when everything around you feels like it’s constantly changing. I have had four jobs from ages 21-24. I have learned from each. I’ve learned a lot about what I don’t want, but truth be told, I’m still not entirely sure what I do want, career wise.
2. Money will not start flowing in immediately.
You got the degree. You landed a job. Congrats! Not everyone can say the same, so, good for you! And it was only a matter of time before those student loans kick in. And chances are, the hunk-of-junk car that you bought when you turned 16 is probably making some weird noises, one foot through the door to the junkyard in the sky. You have first and last month’s rent to pay on your new, wildly overpriced apartment. Are groceries really that expensive? Yep! Don’t be discouraged about your entry level, low paying job; you have years to dig through the trenches. And in case you forget where you stand in society as a recent grad with a mediocre job, heap of debt, and car that barely makes it from here to the market, people will remind you, every day.
3. Friendships will fade.
You leave college having met tons of new people with whom you share memories that will last a lifetime. Nothing can break that bond. Unfortunately, friendships change and fade a lot in your early twenties. People end up on all different walks of life. Some relocate, some find new interests, and some you simply grow apart from. This is a part of life. It took me a while to come to terms with the fact that growing apart from friends is normal and should not be looked at in a negative light. Some friendships take more maintenance than others and people change. Look back on your time with friends fondly, but know that it is okay to keep on living without them being a part of your life.
4. Don’t compare yourself to those around you.
This is a big one and I am a repeat offender. You are not going to progress at the same pace as other people your age. Or people younger than you, or older than you for that matter. Your focus should always be on yourself, your goals, and your accomplishments. Comparing yourself to others will not help you reach the point they are at. If you strive to be in a similar position, then you need to work hard to get there, not complain about how unfair it is that they’re where you are not. To the same effect, what other people think of you does not matter. You know why? Because no one is thinking about what you are doing. They are focused on themselves and have a critical eye on their own trials and pitfalls. Your only limit is you, and no one else.
5. Sometimes, you just need to have faith.
As a self-proclaimed control freak, I have trouble giving things over to the hands of fate. That being said, any time I have taken the leap, things seemed to fall into place. A little positivity goes a long way. If you believe in something enough, the universe is going to reward those good vibes. Keep on keeping on and believe that what is meant to be really does find its way.
I didn’t wake up one day with a sudden realization that my early twenties had cruised on by and I had it all figured out. I absolutely don’t. But one more thing I have learned…you never really do.