Mindset mistakes I was making in my 20’s
You’ve heard that phrase right? “I can’t adult” is being bounced around more than a kid on a moonwalk. What does it really mean? In basic terms, it is saying that one cannot—or more likely, will not—behave as an adult by taking on adult responsibilities and transitioning to that next phase in their lives. From the stories I’ve heard and the articles I’ve read, a lot of individuals, particularly the Millennials, are feeling the same way.
The Millennials are having a tough time adjusting to being an adult in this world for several reasons, but predominantly it is because we view things differently and want different things out of life. We want not only work life balance, but also fluidity. We want to be able to take a few hours for the doctor during the day, and work a few hours later at night if needed. We want to make a difference in the world, and be part of a team as well as be part of social groups. We want our lives to mean something, while still making money.
For me, personally, there were several mistakes I was making in terms of the way I was viewing my changing world. Once I realized them—and also because I was being faced with the tick-tock of starting a family—I was much better able to transition and cope with the next stage in my life.
1. I expected a [successful] job right out of college.
Some would blame this on my condition of being an only child, but apparently many Millennials have this expectation. We put in hard word at school, study, get a diploma, and should now be handed a job and a good paycheck. The world gave me a major news flash when this didn’t happen immediately. Or for four years after that. That was an ego crusher, let me tell you.
It may be due partly to the recovering economy, or the fact that I lived in a big city with other qualified professionals, but I didn’t expect that my Master’s degree wasn’t enough. When I first got out of school, I was lazy and was waiting for a profession to come to me. Four years and several epiphanies later, I have learned that I needed to go chase a job and literally get a foot in the door. It is awesome to have a degree, it is quite another feat entirely to land a job.
2. All I cared about was money.
When I was in school and then after, I had this perception that I wanted to make a bunch of money and didn’t care about the job I did to get it. It was more important to me than loving what I was doing. Four years later I realized that uh, yeah, it actually matters—a lot. It is very important that I still have some pursuit of passion and don’t hate my job. I’m not saying you have to love your first (or second, or third) job, or even that there aren’t days when you don’t want to go to work. What I am saying is that you should never lose sight of what your passions are, and should continually try to pursue them. I now would rather make less money and be happier on a daily basis than hate what I do for 8(+) hours and live my life on the weekends. I am working my job and also blogging, painting, and jewelry making on the side. I don’t mind, though, because I love having that creative outlet. It keeps me sane. One day I plan to turn it into my own business, but that’s a story for another day.
3. I didn’t know myself and let others define me.
We live in a very critical culture. A world of plastic surgery, selfies, and viral everything. For women, especially, this puts a lot of pressure not only on how we look, but also who we are as people and what success is defined as. It is easy to let our culture, parents, and friends define us. What is even scarier is that we often define ourselves by the expectations we impose upon ourselves. Frankly, I could never live up to my expectations; my bar was set at an unachievable height. It was so high I could limbo standing up. Since the new year, I have been doing some serious self-evaluation. Call it age, call it life experience, but whatever you call it, you need to do it. I took time to really reflect on where I was in my life, where I wanted to be, and where I wanted my future to go. I knew I couldn’t stay on living as the person I was in the life I was leading. It wasn’t a bad life, just not the one I wanted for myself.
I started defining myself from my own inner-guidance. With self-reflection I was able to meditate on the goals that I wanted to achieve and the passions I wanted to pursue. I stopped listening to my inner critic. I stopped listening to society’s ideals. I stopped listening to what other people thought I should do. I started listening to the real me.
4. I was mentally living in college (aka. Living in the past)
This was probably my biggest hurdle to overcome. College is amazing. You get to live on your own, set your own schedule, met people easily, party, learn new things, have new experiences… you get the picture. I spent six years there. My college was my home. When I graduated, moved out of the apartment I lived in for three years, and relocated to a suburban area, it was like I had landed on Mars. There were no throngs of people my age and potential friends, everything closed early, I couldn’t walk to the bars, and I didn’t get to pick the things I wanted to learn and study, while also have time during my day to do whatever I wanted to do. Changing to an “adult” schedule was challenging. I spend most of my time reminiscing and wishing I could go back. I was mentally living in the past in the biggest way, and was very depressed that I wasn’t physically living there. I had blinders on.
I recently made the decision to take those blinders off, and put some sparkly adult glasses on. I realized that my college experiences were awesome, but a new adventure was waiting for me that I wasn’t diving into. Instead of lamenting about not making friends, I plan to start yoga and take an art class. Instead of being bummed things aren’t open late, I now enjoy days of gardening, crafts, and sunshine, and fall into bed happily at 10 pm. I traded the parties and late nights for vegetables and runs. Another cool thing is that adults make money, so I can buy myself a shirt or go on a weekend getaway if I want to. It’s definitely different, but intentionally living in the moment and enjoying it really makes all the difference in the world.
I was afraid if I grew up and became an adult I would lose myself. The truth is, I am now myself more than ever before.
Want to read more about the troubled 20’s? Check out this enlightening links…