I was recently introduced to a company that has made a new type of mattress popular to young adults called Casper. They started a new project collaborating with bloggers about what advice they could give to young professionals and I was surprised, but flattered to be asked to be a part of it. My first thought was – “Who… me?!” As a mid-20 something, I can honestly say that there are a whole lot of days where I don’t feel like I have it all together and from what I hear, that’s pretty normal. If there’s anything I’ve learned so far about being in my 20’s, it’s that these are my most transformative years (at least as far I’ve seen!) Who I was at age 20 is vastly different from who I was at age 25. How I ran and organized my life at 22 and graduating college is far from the daily routines I hold as a 26-year old working girl. For me, the most exciting part of this all is that at 20 years old, I never envisioned this future for myself. It was a total surprise. And not knowing what the next 4 years of my 20’s will hold is something that I’m looking more forward to. Hopefully the lessons I’ve learned so far that have helped shaped my 20’s are something that you might find useful too!
Say “yes” to the things you want to do / Say “no” to things that disinterest you
Seems like a no-brainer, right? For me, this was one of those things that was easier said than done. In my early 20’s, I was a total people pleaser. I never wanted to leave a friend hanging or let someone down when they were so excited to do something that I was pretty much lukewarm about it. Not wanting to disappoint anyone, I would suck it up and in the end, I was just hurting myself. It wasn’t until my mid-20’s that I realized saying yes to things I didn’t want to do was eating up my own time, which I find to be very precious (we’ll get into that a little bit later!) Also, friends of mine would become upset if I didn’t have an opinion when they asked me if I preferred one thing over the other. Instead of voicing that I didn’t want to do either, I would say – “Whatever, it doesn’t matter to me, you pick!” In my head, I thought I was being flexible when really to them, I was being more difficult. It wasn’t until I started voicing my opinions with someone that I dated that this became more apparent to me because he would end up telling me that he *liked* how honest I was about what I did and didn’t want to do.
Have an elevator pitch for yourself
Not everyone has to be a salesperson and you definitely don’t have to come off as if you’re a brand, but it’s important to always know the answers to a few questions that you might be asked about yourself.
- What do you do for a living?
- What do you do for fun?
There’s probably a few more that we could add to this list, but for now let’s just stick to nailing two! There’s nothing worse than being in a social setting or even a date setting and not having an answer to these questions. When someone asks you what you do for fun, you don’t want to be caught stumbling over your words by saying that you a) spend all of your time working (cause you’re a workaholic) b) hanging with your friends c) Netflix d) whatever my friends like to do. Sure, these might be true and it’s okay if some of these things are your interests, but this isn’t ALL that you do. You are a refined 20-something that has it together now so you need to have real interests and real hobbies.
Create a home that you love
I’ve always been a little bit of homebody. When I was in college, I spent every hour of my day going from class to class, to meals, to my job and then to all of my extracurriculars. By the time I got home, I was exhausted and what I wanted more than anything was to come home to a quiet space. Today, I’m still the exact same way. :) The addition of candles in my home this year was HUGE for me because I loved how peaceful it made my living space and how relaxing and calm it made me feel after a long day. Every Sunday is clean-up day. I never knew what it was like to live with a lot of roommates and I like my space to be clean and not representative of a party house by any means so we make this a weekly routine. Lastly, I love to kick up my feet after a long day or a weekend day in and while I may not want to have conversations with anyone, I love white noise. We’re big on television and movies (no surprise there!) so I treat myself to having all of my favorite cable channels and HBO. We’ve earned this.
Don’t react / Take each day one at a time
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in the last year is to not react when something major happens. Too often there have been incidents in my personal life or my work life that just get me all riled up and I feel the need to a) explode right then and there b) vent to someone immediately c) react emotionally d) let it affect my entire day
Can you tell that we’ve been through this many times? We have 4 different options! Awful things happen every day and I’m the first to admit that some of the things I freak out about are sometimes some of the smallest things that have little to no impact on me overall. I know what you’re thinking… drama queen over here. It’s something that I’ve been working on and some of the things that have helped me are to not react too quickly. If someone says something that upsets me, I don’t get defensive in that moment. I let myself sit on it for a few hours sometimes even 24 hours so that I can make sure my thoughts are clear and so that I can see the other person’s point of view before coming up with a response. If someone tells me a piece of information that I react too quickly to, the first thought that now also pops into my head is that I might not have all of the information. I may be missing some context that would make the entire picture make sense so I wait on that too. Lastly, some of these things that happen aren’t always permanent. You may have an awful day, but you’re not going to continue to have awful days. Take each day one at a time and think of each day as a reset.
Learn to be okay with just yourself
In college, I was constantly surrounded by people. I was always in class, at work, at extracurriculars and these things always included a large group of people. Even when I was home, I had friends over to my studio. After graduating, this was a huge shift for me to get used to. I left Capitol Hill where all my friends were living so it was an added effort to see them on a daily basis if I could even muster that. Things that I normally did with friends like homework, any kind of work, cooking meals, watching tv were all done by myself now and not with other people. If there’s any advice I could give, it’s to start training yourself to do this earlier. College life and the life you have after college are naturally going to be very different and that’s okay, but you have to start accepting this. Don’t be that person that literally can’t do something without another human being. You – yourself are pretty great and like Kendall Jenner says, “You don’t need no man,” but you also don’t need someone there to make you feel like you are okay. It takes baby steps – go to a movie theater alone. Eat a meal by yourself. Go to a concert solo. You know you’ve made it when you’ve had an entire day on your own and frankly, didn’t even notice. In my mid-20’s this is one of my favorite things! I love these little moments by myself where I can do whatever I want without any obligations during a weekend day or when I’m driving up 101 into the city and am completely alone with my thoughts and my most recently created Spotify playlist.
As hardworking as your 20’s can be, there are times when you need to pamper yourself as well. Put some time aside to do things for you and things that you love. Your mind, body, and spirit will thank you for it later! One of those things for me in 2016 has been to get away at least once a month. I’m lucky that I had a couple of friends that were getting married this year so some of these monthly trips are bachelorette parties / weddings, but hey, those still count! They are vacations after all! One of my biggest regrets in college was that I didn’t have the opportunity to study abroad because I was graduating with a major and a minor and during the summers, I always had an internship or a job so that I could put money towards school. There just wasn’t time for me to go abroad even if I tried. At the time, I told myself – maybe it’s okay that I don’t travel now because I can always travel when I’m working and have the money and vacation time. Well, I didn’t get to that in the first couple of years of working so this was the year that I actively had to set that as a goal for myself. These trips, whether they are a day long or a week long are the perfect breaks that I need from my active work life, but also something that I can look forward to every month.
I don’t expect anyone to read this post and think that they can turn their life around *like that* to make their 20’s easier though it may help! These lessons I’ve learned have taken months – sometimes even years for me to come to the realization of it all, but that’s okay. You’re learning on the job – that’s what we’re all doing.