Stubborn. Anxious. Nonchalant. The 20s are filled with an amalgamation of emotions. While these feelings are deemed normal and predictable in an age when you have sudden independence and least responsibility, they tend to catch up with you when you least expect it. Those vague ideas about the “real” world will soon be so in-your-face that you will lose sight of the greatness you once dreamed of.
What you do in your early 20s sets the tone for your personal and professional success. This article shares important lessons by experienced millennials in their late 20s to guide you through this consequential phase in life.
1. Grab Every Opportunity and Listen
The common feeling after being dictated terms your entire education life is to live on your own terms. Therefore, the immediate reaction in first jobs is to believe that you know a lot and that you don’t need to change. However, co-founder and editor-in-chief at Verily Magazine, Kara Eschbach recommends, “When an opportunity presents itself that seems really unique or interesting, go for it! As someone who started in accounting, then went to investing, and is now in media, you never know where your experiences will lead you.” English literature graduate turned successful entrepreneur, Urvashi, 29, echoes the same sentiment, “Grab every opportunity. Don’t limit yourself to an image of yourself you had before.”
Another common mistake is thinking we know too much. Azita Ardakani, founder of LoveSocial acknowledges that, “Our default during this time can sometimes be to assume we know most of the answers. Even if you do, the outlook, perspective, vantage point (right or wrong) of another will expand your horizon and context. Go into everything with a humble assumption that you can learn something from every single person in the room, then listen first and ask questions after.” Carina Mathur, 30, has climbed the corporate ladder of success and agrees that “having an ego in your early twenties stops you from becoming your best self”.
2. Take Chances and Embrace Failure
Will you let the fear of failure stop you? Don’t you think it’s better to fail now, when you are still young and can only become better? Although it might seem daunting at the time, renowned entrepreneur Ariana Huffington recounts, “The number one thing I learned about how to make the most of your 20s was to accept failure and welcome it as the stepping stone to success.” The founder of the Huffington Post adds, “(Failure) is not only a part of life, it’s a valuable part of life.” Failure is better than regretting.
Another stately philosophy can be sighted as far back as 1910 in Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘If’ where it reads: If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, And treat those two impostors just the same: … Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it. This explains that your life will be dawned with both, triumphs as well as failures, but you will get the most out of life if you don’t let either of them dictate the way you choose to live and the decisions you make. Do what makes you happy and choose to be yourself. Failure and triumph will follow.
3. Introspect and Find Your Purpose
It’s a painful realisation when you have reached a stage where you have been doing something because you were afraid, or because there was nothing to be scared about and now you are stuck in a passionless career. Chelsea Brownridge, co-director and COO, Ignite Good exclaims, “Find a job that you are excited to wake up and go to every morning!” If your financial circumstances are proving to be an obstacle then professional baker Ravina, 28, advices “If it isn’t your dream job, just do it to pay rent and spend your spare time building a skill, getting good at something. But don’t let yourself get stuck in that job – keep your eyes open for something better.”
The internal dialogue with oneself is most often overlooked and never given its due importance. “Reflecting will allow you to see the signs that the world is giving you about your purpose” states Rey Faustino, CEO and founder, One Degree. Searching for this ‘purpose’ is never a waste of time. Two-time Emmy winning TV producer Alice Rhee can be eloquently quoted as saying “purpose is a fuel that’s non-toxic to yourself and others”.
While it is absolutely normal to enjoy your 20s, it is important to approach these years with the right attitude. It is beneficial to keep an open mind, a level head and an inextinguishable pursuit of your dream job. You could call yourself young and tell yourself that you still have time but what are you saving the panic for? You might as well internalise these valuable lessons now and benefit from them in the many years to come.
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