One of the best times in anyone’s life is graduation day, be it high school or college. (Please tell me your song was Graduation by Vitamin C? Just me? Oh…) The turning of the tassel signifies the end of a major chapter and the beginning of “the rest of your life” so to speak.
And while it’s a brief happy moment to open the next chapter, I’ve met so many young women over the years who suffer from anxiety and depression about what their life will become next. They struggle to decide on the industry they’re meant to be in, where they will end up on the career ladder, and if it’s better to focus on their passionate side hustle or to take in a stable salary in a mediocre role.
Having started my own company at the young age at 25, I try to encourage all of these young women to build up enough confidence to take a big risk. In your heart, you know the type of work that makes you happy. Alternatively, you may have an idea for the “next big thing” but have no idea how to start it.
Let me tell you that just because you don’t feel experienced enough yet doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
Something I always turn to for inspiration when I’m feeling down or just need an extra boost is a quote from Theodore Roosevelt. I live and breathe the entire following passage:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
This quote resonates with me so much because I believe that too often we avoid stepping “into the arena” of life. We run from our insecurities and prefer to stay in our comfort zones. We never feel confident enough to jump into something we don’t feel we have mastered. This has been studied to be especially true with women more so than men.
I fondly remember being fresh out of college and feeling like I was just at the beginning of adulthood. I felt educated but totally inexperienced. I was afraid to mess up, so I didn’t force myself out of my comfort zone. I didn’t speak up at networking events. I shied away from adding my opinion in case it came across as stupid. And I definitely doubted my ability to become an entrepreneur with only a few years of professional experience.
That being said, I ended up asking myself what my life would be like if I failed. I realized that I believed I was a smart enough person who could find another job again, and that if anything, my future employer would probably respect me more for having the nerve to go out on my own.
If I could do it all over again, I’d tell myself to jump right into all the things that scared me the most. Because whether or not I succeeded, I would have failed while daring greatly and thus growing exceptionally more in the process.
So, to all of you new graduates getting ready to step into your next phase of life, take as many risks as you possibly can. There will be setbacks, you will stumble once or twice, but you will also learn a remarkable amount and it will make you a stronger, smarter and more driven person than you were before you took that risk. Best of luck, I believe in you!
Stefanie Keenan / Contributor for Getty