Last week I did a Q&A on stories, and y’all sent in some great questions! One of them was “biggest advice you have for someone in their mid 20s.” I thought this was such a good question so I wanted to recap my answer (and add to it) on the blog. Hindsight is always 20/20 and there are so many things I wish I would have known 7-10 years ago (I’m 32 now). Okay, so let’s get to it!
- Try different things to see what you like/don’t like. I remember when I graduated from college (before nursing I got my BA in Communication), I worked for a marketing firm for 6 months and while I didn’t love it, it felt like it was a big deal to leave and try something new. I did ended up leaving though, and moving to NYC until I ended up going back to school for nursing. While I was in NYC, during the day I worked at a online clothing brand and at night I would waitress. Instead of feeling like I was wasting time, I was just trying different things to see what I liked. A year and half later is when I decided to go back to school for nursing (I was in my mid 20s) and during that time is when I stared my blog. Again, I just continued to try different things that I was interested in because you never know where they may lead. If I would have felt “too old” to go back to nursing, I would have never gotten a nursing degree, may not have started a blog as a creative outlet, etc. We don’t live in a traditional world anymore where you need to graduate high school, go to college, get a degree, and then work the same job for the rest of your life. It is never too late to reinvent yourself and try new things, ESPECIALLY when you are in your 20s. You’re so young. Seriously.
- Long term happiness doesn’t come from other people’s opinions or perceptions of you. I think it can very easy to get caught up in what other people think of you, and let it determine your self-worth. But. I always remind myself that is what Karen (sorry for all the good Karen’s out there!) thinks of me going to determine my happiness? The answer is no. But let me give you an example. Let’s say you’ve always wanted to get breast implants, but you’re worried that the Karen’s in the office are going to judge you (I use this example because many of you have DM’d me this scenario lol). So you have 2 options: you can not get the surgery and just live according to what Karen deems acceptable (would this make you happy?) or you can get the surgery you’ve wanted, feel confident, be glad you did something for yourself and have miserable Karen talk some sh*t. Umm I definitely choose the latter. Sure, maybe it feels good in the moment to not have people making judgments about you but is that going to make you truly happy long term? I think we all know that answer. And let’s be honest. People who are judgmental will always find something to pick apart so don’t let their opinion determine how you’re going to live your life. I’ve always said that people who are genuinely happy and successful don’t have the time or the small-mindedness to spend their time judging others. At the end of the day, you’re happiness and self-worth comes from who YOU know you are as a person and those that you choose to surround yourself with.
- Be okay with not being for everyone. This is something that I even still kind of struggle with now if I’m being honest. Having a “public” platform, I want to appease everyone. Of course I want people to like me (hello enneagram 3), and my content –after all, it’s a big part of my job. And it can be hard to look at other very successful influencers in the space who remain very neutral on everything and feel like I need to do the same. But then I think, do I want to be so vanilla that I just never have an opinion on anything? Sure, I don’t want to be polarizing and I don’t feel like I’m a polarizing person but there are certain things that should be spoken up about. And TBH, we all know that my sarcasm wouldn’t let me be too vanilla anyway LOL. Point being that if you have any kind of personality, you may not be for everyone and that’s okay. I’d rather be surrounded (on IG and IRL lol) by people who really understand me and support me vs. people who like me but overall may feel indifferent. As I’ve “grown up” and reached my 30s I’ve gotten much better at just saying f*ck it –in the nicest way possible! Again, you will be happier being your authentic self than trying to conform to what you think will just please everyone.
- Only focus on what you can control. I guess you could say that this has been a mantra of mine for a while now. When I was younger I feel like it was easier to get so caught up in things that at the end of the day I couldn’t do anything to change. I learned that it’s not a good use of time or energy to dwell on things that we can’t change hence choosing to only focusing on what we can control. This mindset is where two of my tattoos stem from, “que sera sera” (what will be will be) and “forward.” It reminds me that after doing what is in our control (sorry to keep using the word control 8392182 times lol) that it is what it is, and that the only thing we can do is focus on what is the best next step, and to move forward.
- Failures are not final, they do not define you. The word failure has a negative connotation, but instead, think of failures as learning experiences. The only way you get from A to B to C is to try and go after things, and when you do that you’re inevitably going to make some mistakes, have some missteps, things that you possibly deem as you failing etc. But no one that you admire and look up to got to where they are today by letting a failure stop them. You may think that people are an overnight success but no one is. Everyone went through missteps, trial and error, and some failures to get to where they are today.
- Don’t settle. Don’t feel bad for wanting more out of life whether it’s in friendships, romantic relationships, your job, etc.
- Don’t waste time in any relationship that is making you unhappy or that you know isn’t ultimately healthy. This goes for any relationship (blog on healthy friendships coming soon), but I think so many of us have stayed in romantic relationships longer than we knew we should have. Something my mom always said is “you’ll either marry them or break up.” I remember when she said that it seemed extreme but it’s so true! This isn’t to say that everyone who you’re dating in your early 20s, etc. needs to be your potential husband but at the end of the day it’s a good reminder–why waste your time and energy on something you know isn’t ultimately going to work or is unhealthy?
- Comparison is the thief of joy. I don’t know about y’all but there are moments where despite being super grateful for what I have, I still can get caught in the comparison trap. I feel like this another one that I still struggle with despite being older. But I love this perspective that I came across recently from Brendon Burchard, and I wish someone would have phrased it to me this way in my 20s. Basically when you come across someone who has something or has achieved more than you or who you feeling is doing “better”, has more, etc. Instead of feeling envious, or feeling you aren’t enough, flip the narrative. Realize that someone having more than you means it’s POSSIBLE. It means that if one person can achieve that, then it’s possible for others too as well; possible for you. If it’s been done before there is no reason you can’t do it too. You just have to figure out the steps you need to take to get there.
- Stand up for others and yourself. This one is definitely not an easy one but I can tell you that it’s 100% worth it. I remember the first time when I really spoke up for someone–I was on a plane and there was a younger boy who presumably had Autism just a couple rows ahead. The guy who was sitting next to me started to just make fun of the younger boy and just making really mean comments. My blood was literally boiling the whole flight. When we begin our descent I finally worked up the courage to basically tell him to STFU. I basically told him how rude and disrespectful he was and how would he feel if someone treated him that way for something that was beyond his control. Needless to say for the remainder of the flight he did STFU lol. Anyway, even when it’s hard, even when it may not be the popular thing to do, stand up for yourself and others who need your voice. They and your future self will thank you.
- Life is too short to sweat the small stuff. Working in an ICU really taught me in life that most things aren’t a big deal. In the grand scheme of things the stuff we deem annoying or are frustrated by, usually really don’t matter. I know there is the joke about “first world problems” and I’m the first to admit I love using that phrase haha, but if those kind of problems are actually ruining your day, you’re going to have a pretty frustrating life ahead of you. Beyond that, you have to learn to be able to transcend certain things and people. Again, realizing that not everyone will like you, people may judge you, etc. Focus on the things and people that really matter and while the other things may be frustrating in the moment, be self-aware enough to realize that they are pretty inconsequential and shouldn’t dictate how you respond and live your life.