I am in my mid 20’s and following a very non-traditional career path since I’m in the Peace Corps and living in Nicaragua. Watching my friend’s move on and build careers through distant social media has shown me a few things. Which is why I am writing this. Somehow, some way, we have been pressured to believe we have to have our entire life together by 21. I just want to encourage everyone struggling with debt, still living with their parents, unable to go to grad school and doesn’t have a spouse or children: THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU.
I don’t know where we get this from but I felt it too. I have felt at one time or another that I was not enough. This feeling that I haven’t accomplished enough. I still have debt. I haven’t attended grad school and when I am home, I live with my parents. I am in my twenties and although I’ve accomplished way more than the average 20-year-old, I’m saying you’re normal if you haven’t accomplished anything at all. I am not saying don’t have aspirations. You need to have dreams. But you are not somehow less than for not accomplishing what others have in their 40s. Here is what you need to accomplish in your twenties.
1. Grow up.
We think we’re grown in college but after that, the real adulting begins. You need to mature and accept your fate. Yes, the time has come. That means paying all fees and tickets you receive. Unless you’re unemployed, it’s not ok to ask your parents for money all the time. Handle your business. No more late night parties and out of control drinking. Get to work on time. Dress appropriately and act like you want your job. Be mindful of what you post on social media and for once take your parents advice.
2. Know and accept your responsibilities.
It’s your responsibility to know what is in your checking and savings account. It’s your responsibility to check weekly and not overdraft. It is your responsibility to prioritize the phone bill over the weekly unnecessary splurges (i.e., Starbucks, fast food, etc.). It’s your responsibility to prioritize and start thinking about other things like not related to drama.
If you live with your parents, wash some dishes, cook dinner every now and then. If you live with roommates, make an effort to get to know them. If you are good friends, talk about ways to help each other reach your dreams. Make a pact to collectively reduce debt or spend less for the month.
4. Make an effort.
Set small goals and strive to accomplish them. Build your resume. If you can’t find a job, volunteer somewhere for experience in your industry. Don’t just sit bitterly on the couch. Go out and visit the places you’re applying to, ask what specific skills they’re looking for. Introduce yourself and let them know you’re applying online. Show up to the interview in actual professional attire.
5. Ask for help.
Don’t beg but humble yourself enough to sit under someone else for wisdom. Take advantage of what the adults in your life have to offer. Whether it’s taking a job you don’t necessarily want or interning, ask for help. If you’re really behind on a bill, don’t be ashamed to ask for a small loan.
6. Love yourself.
Don’t be bitter towards all those being lovey-dovey pictures on social media. Understand that there is more to everybody’s relationship than what meets social media’s eye. Your special someone is out there waiting for you to become a person ready for a relationship. Instead of being jealous, build on yourself. Are you someone worth loving? Until you are, don’t worry about everybody else’s relationship. They might not be together in a year, but you will still have yourself in a year.
7. Social media is not life.
Do you post your burnt dinners, failed exams or boring days of work on social media? No. Neither does everyone else. Social media is everyone’s highlight reels. Don’t compare your down to someone’s publicised high. We’re all just trying to make a way for ourselves and have a better tomorrow. Focus on yourself and you’ll be amazed how much happier you’ll be.
Build your portfolio. Build your skill set and your network. It’s not always what you know. It’s also who you know. Go to meetups. Attend local events in your community. Ask your friends for suggestions, just get our of your comfort zone.
9. Make mistakes.
Travel. Splurge but remember to save. Learn a new language. Get lost and free yourself to make mistakes. It’s never a loss if it’s a lesson. Failure is life’s way of saying, maybe another time. “Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be” – John Wooden
Make friends you want for a lifetime. Take time to love your family. They will not always be here and figure out what you really want from life. Don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t stress about your life in 10 years.
Don’t worry about what they say. Just accomplish these 10 things and you’ll do your 20s right.