Career · Life

A letter to the 20 {ish} year old trying to flourish like a 40 {ish} year old

Slow down—relax. There is no rush to grow up.

That is what our families have always told us from the time we were 16 going on 25. It’s the cycle of life—when you are younger you want the independence, knowledge, and financial stability of a grownup and when you are an adult you want the freedom, opportunities, and adventurous spirit of a teenager.

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No matter how we go about it, it seems like life is a constant circle of wanting what we can’t have. But why not change that? Why not truly enjoy the stage of life that you’re currently in? Why not bask in the opportunities of your current situations and reflect on your past experiences?

I am 23-years-old and I feel as though I am constantly challenged to do better, be better, work harder, learn more, and reach higher. It is as though the second I reach a previously set goal, I am not granted the time and enjoyment to celebrate it—I am programmed by society to check it off my list and continue moving forward.

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As teenagers and young adults, I believe that we think we have much more pressure on us by our parents, employers, mentors, and society than any generation before us. No, that is not an “entitled millennial” complaining about her “rough life.” It is a young professional feeling the pressure to be more involved, make more money, sleep less, and achieve more—like the adults I am surrounded by. But, that is not true. That is not what society wants from us and that’s not want our parents, bosses, or teachers want for us.

In your 20s it is ok to be struggling to make ends meets. It is ok to not be at the top of your company in your dream job. It is ok to not be married, not have kids, or heck, even be in a serious relationship! As we enter the workforce and venture off into new cities and new environments, it’s so easy to compare ourselves and our accomplishments to those around us.

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Don’t. Don’t give in to the pressures of society. Enjoy your life—sleep in a little too late when you can. If you don’t have kids to tend to, why not take that extra 15 minutes to lie in bed and not curl your hair for work? If you’re invited to go get drinks with an old friend on a Wednesday night and stay out way too late—do it! If you want to take a road trip after work on Friday and not drive back until late Sunday night—please do it.

No, I am not saying forget all of your responsibilities and go out drinking every night, and stop working towards your future goals. I am not saying to stop saving for your next car or dine out at your favorite restaurant every night. What I am saying is to live. Live in the moment, celebrate life’s little milestones, experience love, and learn from heartbreak. After college and before true adulthood is one of the few times in life when you have the undeniable freedom to just live.

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To the 20 {ish} year olds, trying to flourish like the 40{ish} year olds—stop comparing. The individuals you are comparing yourselves to have 20 {ish} years on you. They have lived and learned through their mistakes, they have traveled, they have had time to save their money, and they have slowly climbed the ladder to career success.

There is a quote I saw in high school that I will always remember to this day. “Instead of wishing you were someone else, be proud of who you are. You never know who is looking at you wishing they were you.” I challenge all of you young, hard-working, beautiful professionals to remember this quote and I challenge you to live for the now and celebrate all that is right in front of you!

With Love,

Monica

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