Congratulations, you’re an adult! Welcome to the age of paralyzing fear, crippling self-doubt and lots of cereal for dinner! Here are some pieces of advice and words of wisdom that we wish someone had told us before we started this whole adult thing:
Things take time. You’ll hear the phrase “paying your dues” a lot. And it’ll start to wear on you the same way other millennial clichés will make you want to tear your hair out, but it’s a real thing. You won’t get promoted in 6 months. You won’t be thanked for every assignment you complete. Your boss will probably micromanage you for a while. Things take time. We’re talking years, not semesters. Grunt work sucks, but it is essential if you want to build trust. And you need to build trust to get to the next level. Manage your expectations. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
You’ve actually got to take care of your body. I know, it’s lame, but it’s truly important. Drink water, exercise, meditate, sleep, eat green things. You’re an animal first and foremost. Attend to your physical needs and everything becomes ten thousand times easier. Neglect your body and you will feel awful. It’s that easy. And yet, so hard.
Your career isn’t the most important thing about you. Seriously. There’s so much pressure these days to follow your passion and pursue your purpose. All well and good, but sometimes, you just have to pay the bills. And even if you find a job you love, it will still be difficult and frustrating and stressful. Your coworkers will be weird and your boss will be annoying and you’ll wonder if you’ve made a mistake. The point is that all of these things are normal and are in no way an indication that you are somehow messing up or falling behind. Careers are what you do for money. Don’t put more pressure on yourself than necessary.
Social media is a giant time suck and will make you feel insecure. You probably knew that already, but it’s worth repeating. Stalking people online never ends well. Comparing yourself to others is silly. People are different. Some people are getting married. Some people are moving to Japan. Something can be great for someone else and not be right for you. Learn to support people without feeling the need to compare. Let someone else shine without having it affect you. And put your phone down once and awhile. There’s a life you need to be living.
Friendships require effort. Appreciate the people you have, and make time to spend with them. It’s a lot harder to be friends as adults. Find the friendships that are worth maintaining and make an effort. This means, but is not limited to: inviting people to hang out, staying up past 9PM when you’d rather be sleeping, driving people to the airport, watching their dog, etc.
It’s up to you. You get to write your own script. You don’t have to listen to anyone else. You can do whatever you want. You’re an adult! I realized this was when I discovered that I could paint my basement purple and put an artificial Christmas tree in the corner… just because! I get to do what I want! No one can tell me otherwise! This is a major perk of adulthood, use it well!
You’ll cry a lot. Mainly because you think you’re falling behind. You’re not. You’re right where you need to be. And also because adulting is hard. You’re not crazy or dramatic or weird or broken. You’re doing just fine. Cut yourself some slack for crying because it’s normal and not that embarrassing and expressing your emotions is actually quite healthy. And if you’re lucky, you’ll laugh a lot, too.
No one has any idea what they’re doing. We are all just winging it. I promise.