Although I was 20 years old only about 7 years ago, it seems like a different lifetime. I had no job, no husband, no mortgage, no student loans to pay, and no kids. Everything came so fast. I remember that difficult transition from college to having to put my big girl pants on, actually sit down at a desk from 8-to-5 so that I could pay my bills and put my hard-earned, EXPENSIVE education to work. I thought exams and homework were hard then but honey, it’s really not that bad. So, if I could write a letter to my 20-year-old self, it would look something like this:
Work your BUTT off. Do your very best and always give 100% every day. While in college, I went to listen to a speaker about design and he said something that has always stuck with me. He said, “There is always going to be someone better than you, more talented than you, smarter than you. Someone that you look at and envy because it seems to come so easy to them. But there is no one out there that can work as hard as you. EVER.” It's going to take hard work to get to where you want to be. There’s thousands of talented people out there who want the same thing but you can always work harder and hard work will pay off. Bust it now so that you can get that coveted job and establish yourself in your career before you have kids. Make a name for yourself. Hard work and willingness to learn goes a very long way, especially in this generation. Then… when you’re able to start a family, you’ll be able to stay relevant because you have earned a reputation and good people are loyal to that.
Work hard but also enjoy this time of no major responsibilities. This is something that I don’t think I did very well as a 20-year-old. I tend to become too focused on a goal that I forget to enjoy myself. You’re twenty! Don’t forget to rest and take care of yourself. Spend a lot of time with friends and realize how care-free your life really is. Rest up because once you start that 8-to-5 and have kids, there’s not as much time for friends and fun. Relax a little, this is a marathon that takes endurance, not a sprint where you will burn out.
A few things that I have learned that will make you stand out from the rest are take initiative, make yourself indispensable, make mistakes and own up to them, and take critique. Your boss is not going to want to hold your hand. Take initiative and get things done. Always try to figure out a problem yourself first before you ask for help. You can learn a lot of things from Google, I’m just sayin’. Make yourself indispensable. Roll up your sleeves and do the jobs that no one wants to do. Always ask yourself how you can make your boss’ life easier, and eventually they won’t be able to operate without you (Cha-Ching). Making mistakes and taking critique is my hardest advice to follow for sure, but you aren’t perfect. You WILL make mistakes, big mistakes. Own up to them and learn from it. Put processes in place to make sure it never happens again and move on. Be open and receptive to critique. This will make you a better person.
Learn your personality type. Find your strengths and weaknesses. Develop those strengths but more importantly your weaknesses. I took this quick personality test (http://www.sagestrategies.biz/documents/FiveMinutePersonalityTestforclass.pdf) while in pre-marital counseling and it can really change your whole life. Work on those weaknesses and find balance.
Last and probably the most important thing is to always follow your happiness. Life is too short to do something that doesn’t make you happy. When you find yourself doing something that you feel isn’t just right deep down in your soul and you feel like you are just spinning your wheels and not growing, have the courage to make that change. Even if you don’t have the whole thing planned out. Follow your heart and the Good Lord will always provide.