1. Your mentor
A mentor is essentially someone you look up to, someone whose guidance you value, and someone who aims to help you achieve your goals in life. They can be one of the most important and influential people in your life. I’ve had various mentors throughout my 20s and all of them impacted me in different and powerful ways. I’m not really sure how I would have made it throughout my college career or had the various professional and creative opportunities if it weren’t for those people genuinely interested in my success.
If you don’t have a mentor think about the people within your field of interest that inspire you and that are doing things you truly admire. Reach out to them. Send an email. What’s the worst that can happen? You’d be surprised at how willing people are to help others.
2. The people you call family
As you get older you realize the term ‘family’ is fluid. It can change and evolve over time, often including people you aren’t actually related to. Some people come from extremely close-knit families, while others are more distant from their relatives, and some have been left to create the family they wish to have with friends and others. These are all different types of families and none of them are any better than the rest. They’re simply different.
In my early 20s I had a lot of bitter resentment left over from things that took place in my adolescence and for a long time I held onto that resentment. It impacted the way I looked at the world and the way I handled my relationships. Over time, though, things changed. Things got better. It wasn’t easy but eventually, I learned to forgive, to let go, and to let others in. Family is an essential part of a person’s life, regardless of which decade of life they’re in. The key is to not let those moments early in life harden you.
3. Your first serious love
There’s no greater moment than experiencing your first real relationship. I’m not talking about the puppy romance that happens in high school or the fly-by-the-night relationships that happen when you’re 19. I’m talking about the first person you look at and think; “I could spend the rest of my life with this person.” This is the person you can get lost with in conversation, the person you feel like just “gets you.” This is someone you’ll always remember and think about, even longer after you’ve broken up with and moved on to someone else. Your first serious love is something you never forget.
4. The boss that sucks
Everyone experiences a boss they can’t seem to get along with or a boss that they just clash with no matter what. It’s basically like a rite of passage for the 20-something professional. I remember the first boss I had at a newspaper really hated anything to do with online media. He had built his career on working at a print publication that was beginning to see its readership change and its sales slow down if it didn’t embrace the online world. Throughout college and after graduation I had always had my hand in both areas. I loved the feel of being in a busy newsroom and seeing my words in print, but I also really enjoyed finding opportunities to publish my work on the web. He constantly told me there was no future in online media.
Even though I understood to some degree why he felt the way he did there was no getting through to him and so we clashed pretty often anytime it came up. Plus, anytime I could call him with ideas he would hang the phone up without a response if he didn’t like the idea. Again, not the best way to work with someone when you’re genuinely trying to learn the ropes within your field. Despite our differences I still learned a lot from him and he made me really appreciate when I eventually had a boss that I liked.
5. The boss that’s awesome
That’s the thing about bosses that suck – you feel truly grateful when you finally get a boss that you not only get along and work well with, but someone who is genuinely eager to help you succeed. I didn’t have that until recently but it honestly has made all the difference. Having a boss you can talk to, discuss the elements in your life that may be affecting your performance, or even just a boss you can shoot the shit with is so important.
Obviously, we don’t usually get to choose who manages us at work, but it makes a strong variation in how you enjoy your work life if you have a boss that’s easygoing and approachable instead of someone that’s always trying to find faults in what you do.
6. The one that got away.
This can mean so much more than just someone you broke things off with too quickly and always wondered if you should have given them a second chance.
There are people, every day, we limit the possibilities with. It’s the stranger that started a conversation in line at the coffeeshop you wanted to ask on a date but were too scared to ask. It’s the friend you’ve had the lifelong crush on that’s moved away to a different city. Or the best friend you ended your friendship with over something petty but you were both too proud to apologize.
These are the things that will always stay with us. The people we look back on from time to time and wonder what could have been. People and the moments they give us are powerful but their absences can be even greater.
7. The friends that come and go
I think there’s a couple of different types of friends you have in life – the kind you can come back to throughout the years and it feels like nothing’s changed, and the kind that you come back to and it feels like everything has changed. The thing is, though, even if friendships disintegrate over time they can still be responsible for some of the most important times in your life.
I think back to some of the friends I had in college. The friends I lived in the dorms with and spent every minute with outside of class and work. At the time, those people were my family. They would talk to me late into the night about anything and everything, they gave me solid advice about life and school and whatever else I needed help with at the time, and they’ll always be remembered in that very specific time of my life. I rarely talk to those old friends anymore but you know what? It’s totally okay. Some people are not meant to be with us forever but we can still learn from the time we shared with them.