With my recent birthday – 23 – the age where I could no longer deny my post-college age and lifestyle, I have been thinking a lot about the way I function through my age. We 20-somethings deal with so much social pressure to be the best we can be right now without realizing the age we actually are.
Now, I agree with being your best (you should always be your best), but maybe we should define what “best” means for you. Maybe that means being the best at the age and place you are – excelling at your current job, building your experience, and meeting people.
For me, it means doing a little something towards my future every day, even if that just means going to work to earn my paycheck. Recently I’ve been getting down over not blogging every day, not working on my poetry/creative work, not “doing” anything to make myself the 20-something I want to be soon, career-wise.
What is this sense of urgency that drives me to feel this way? I don’t need to achieve everything before I’m 25 (or 27, or 30)!
I find myself becoming self-conscious when I see someone’s resume with tons of internship experience, or a literary agent’s assistant with all of his or her credentials, or a published article written by someone who has so many more. I think I want to be like them! Why am I not there yet!?
But when I think about my actual life, I remember that I’m only newly-23. They probably are not, and if they are, good for them!
I’m only one year out of college – a year spent getting to know the special needs and health care community, a year spent getting to understand their behaviors, thoughts, and actions, a year spent figuring out what direction I want to go besides to be an advocate for them, and a year spent forming my marriage to my husband (don’t laugh at me, but since I’ve always treated marriage as the beginning and not the “end life goal,” I act like it’s no big deal that I got married. It is. And I shouldn’t take it – or the fact that it took a lot of work/time/energy to get here – for granted).
We are told the lie that we have to be achieving things now to be getting to where we want. But the fact is that these things take time.
Have you made a LinkedIn profile? Edited your resume on InDesign? Written cover letter after cover letter, editing and making sure that everything looks perfect? Given yourself a well-earned episode of Friends after submitting your application, resume, and cover letter because you just spent all your energy on that one job application?
Well, I have. And even if you get that dreaded rejection email/phone call, know that your time was still well spent.
You don’t need to write a novel, publish a million articles or poems or creative work, or land a starter position at your dream company before you turn 25 (or 30). If you’re a 20-something like me, relax and keep at it. If I do achieve things in the next 2 years, I hope it’s something I can be proud of rather than something rushed or that caused anxiety, too much stress, or made me forget my other priorities in life.
What other priorities? Exploring my fabulous city, spending time with my husband and close friends, reading great books, trying the best food at recommended restaurants, and keeping up with pop culture, world news, and the best new music.
I’m learning how to be content with 23, with slowly working my way up in the world while also enjoying my life. Are you?
Can you relate to wanting to “do all the things” before you reach a certain age? What are your priorities that you don’t want to let achieving your career overshadow?