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How I (Kind of) Figured Out My 20s

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There comes a time in life where you begin to reevaluate your work, love, and personal relationships. This pondering usually ends in a mental breakdown and happens in your 20s—I was 21. That’s when I (kind of) figured everything out.

With diploma in hand, and my dreams to be the next big journalist dashed, I packed my boxes and headed back to my childhood desk. It’s then I asked, what’s a 21-year-old to do with a drowning career and a Fed Loans bill with no hopes of getting paid? She deals.

[Learn: Find Your Purpose]

She gets her act together and starts a life not many understand. I’ve spent the last year explaining that I will never have a steady income, and insurance is a thing of the past. I spend too much money traveling to jobs that pay too little, and I’ve succumbed to my mother, who unmakes my bed every night. But I’m living and I didn’t fold to the pressures of money and a secure job.

I watched as my college friends fumbled to find employment and failed to overcome their fears. I watched as they loved and lost, as they worked for dead ends, then chose back-up plans. I watched and I learned, and I’m here to say that our dreams can come true. This is a work in progress, but here is what I’ve learned so far:

Be a Dreamer

From a young age, I was a dreamer, like many kids are. Unfortunately for my parents, I never grew out of it. Your dreams might seem crazy, but embrace them anyway. In the end, someone has to do it, right? It always works out for someone.

[Read: “30 Things I’m Happy I Tried and Learn Before 30″]

Embrace Your Age

It usually takes people an hour or so to realize I’m young. Once they do, the conversation proceeds: “How old are you?” “22.” “Shouldn’t you be at a bar?” “I don’t actually drink.” This is a hard thing to cope with, but over time I’ve learned to embrace my age and use it as a tool. Not many people can say they pitch business ideas to people twice their age and do it with confidence.

Always Evaluate

Evaluate every situation. If you feel things aren’t right, or that job you thought would push you to success is falling short, evaluate. Think of what you really want and listen to the signs. If I never spelled an editor’s name wrong, I’d be lugging around a camera shooting footage of trees for “news.”

[Read: 7 Ways to Make Yourself Look Older at Work]

You’re in the Exact Right Place

It might not feel like it now, and you’re probably crying in a ball on the floor, but you’re in the exact right place at the exact right time. Sure that internship was all you ever wanted, and he had to be Mr. Right. But it wasn’t, and he wasn’t. There is a reason, and one day you’ll stumble onto it.

Photo: iStockPhoto


#Advice #Age Lifestyle #Personal Development #Sticking It Out
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Wow. I feel like this is a voice over of my life ever since I turned 20. For some reason, 20 was a milestone for me. I stopped hanging out with the people who brought me down, re-evaluated where I wanted to go, and started a new plan. This is a perfect entry for the imperfect situation. Thanks!

I do agree that you are always in the exact place you are supposed to be. I was one of those who chose back-up plans when I couldn't decide exactly what I wanted to do when I graduated, but I wouldn't say those years were wasted. I have learned A LOT through my years of confusion and dead-end jobs. I still don't have it "figured out." I mean, really? What does that even mean? Wouldn't it be boring if we had life figured out by 21? But I have learned to define what success means for ME, let go of what I "should" be doing at 25 and that dreams are worth chasing!

**Correction: Not many people can say they pitch business ideas to people twice their age, and do it with confident** confidence**

I love this. Great article!

I feel like, at 27, I am just starting to reevaluate everything. I hold people to a higher standard so I have cut many of my old friends out of my life and I now practice what I preach. It's a hard road but it is so rewarding.

I am in the same place. I am turning 27 in eighteen days and I have one year left of law school. I used to expect a lot of myself - and others - and now I seem to be unable to live up to it. I am finishing my LLM but the diploma will not sparkle, to put it that way. In 2013 I simply hit the wall, and could not summon the extra energy it took to achieve the best results. These past years have helped me understand myself better, though, and I have become a more humble person. My true ambitions and dreams have been unveiled. A crooked path is still going onwards, so I know I will will look back on my 20s and be grateful for the experience.

Maranjelys Cortijo
Maranjelys Cortijo

This article speaks so much to me. I'm 23 right now and last year I went through that point you were talking about. I'm not done with my undergrad because I wasn't sure what I wanted to do I'm almost done but it was stressful seeing my friends graduate, get married, jobs etc. I'm at a point now we're I've accepted where I am in life and am working on honing into my passions and not comparing my life to others. I teared up reading this because it affirms my journey. Thanks for sharing it!

Ekaterina Popova
Ekaterina Popova

Thanks for sharing this post... I'm 19 but I've always thought about some points you mentioned- like what I wanna do with my life. So far, I'm a student in Public Relations and honestly, I don't think I belong in there. But I have to wait some time, so I could eventually change my major. My point is, thanks for sharing how lost you felt. That's totally me right now and it is good to now I'm not alone.

Yes! I'm about half- way into 27 and I'm still figuring it all out. I got my Bachelors in a completely unrelated field to what I'm interested in now (political science to public health). I'm finishing two Masters degrees and I'm looking at possibly going back to school in a few years to get my nursing degree (never thought that would happen!). Sometimes I worry that I'm "too old" and too broke to be doing that but then again I'm not dead yet soooo why not??

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