This post is part of a blog crawl that’s been organized by my friend Sarah from Yes and Yes to celebrate the launch of her latest offering The Post College Survival Kit. We learned the hard way so you don’t have to! You don’t have to wait till your thirties for a better job, a cuter apartment, financial stability, better relationships + friendships.
Sarah’s asked me to share a few things I wish I’d know in my 20s, straight out of college. I’ve been thinking about what to share for the past few weeks now, and um, honestly… I’ve struggled. How can I sum up all the experiences, life lessons, pointers and the surprising, delightful and horrifying discoveries I’ve uncovered on my journey through this life so far, especially when I’m still finding meaning, joining the dots and my own evolving perspective is a daily moveable feast? I realised, I can’t. No chance. Instead, the best I can do is present a few tiny tidbits of advice. So here’s my humble offering to the blog crawl gods. Let’s jump in:
You rarely get points for effort.
At once sadly and fabulously true, this was a big lesson for me. When it comes to work, I’ve found your results are mainly what count. Please don’t take this as endorsement to be an underhanded dickhead. That’s not at all what I’m saying. If you want to feel good about yourself kindness is critical. But this does mean that your boss or your clients probably aren’t going to want to see your working in the way your maths teacher did on your exam papers.
Beware: you’ll still often get out of your endeavours what you put in, the trick is knowing where to best invest your energy for the greatest return.
If it matters, go for quality over quantity. Always.
Bear with me while I share a story that makes me sound like your grandma: When I was 15 I fell in love with a leather satchel. At a budget busting $500 it was way out of my league, but I decided I was going to buy it anyway. Amazingly the über understanding shop owner let me have that thing on layby for a billion years. I literally paid it off with $5 bills. I think of that bag as my first foray into the whole quality versus quantity thing. And here’s the kicker: I still have AND LOVE that bag. It’s still officially the best bag ever.
Underwear. Market positioning. Dark chocolate. Shoes. Friendships. Over and over, trial and a whole lot of itchy, unaligned, gag-worthy, painful and embarrassing errors have taught me that for me personally, the words ‘quality’ and ‘always’ are where it’s at.
Relationships are almost everything.
Who you chose to spend your time with changes everything about your experience on this planet. Period.
Also: there’s no substitute for old friends. Even on the days they really shit you because they remember that time you were deeply lame in Year 8. (Sylvia, Sibylla, Sally: if you’re reading this, please know: You never ever shit me!)
Your gut is your true north.
I mean this in 2 ways. First, when people talk about going with their gut or using their gut instinct or following their intuition, what they’re really referring to is trusting themselves enough to honour their intrinsic them-ness. I believe this is important because our gut can be our very own built-in true north if we let it.
Over the years I’ve asked a heap of women entrepreneurs if their gut has ever been wrong, and no one (no one!) has ever said yes. And this has personally been true for me too. Anytime I’ve gone off the tracks it’s because for whatever reason (usually fear) I wasn’t going with my gut. Hear me when I say: If I had my time again I would definitely work on fine-tuning and honouring my relationship with my unique me-ness sooner. Not only will it always serve you well, learning how to tap into and trust your true you-ness is also self-affirming like nothing else.
And here’s my second meaning: Your actual physical gut is also worth tuning into. The sooner you can figure out how best to work with it, the happier you’ll be. I guarantee it. An unhappy gut can literally bring you to your knees and totally screw your day – not to mention your plans for world domination (think: if it’s in knots; if it’s bloated; if it’s angry with you; it if doesn’t want to play… Eugh!). Seriously, whenever I listen to and take cues from that baby I’m SO MUCH WELL-ER on every level.
Don’t stress about getting things ‘forever right’.
Guys. Haircuts. Big presentations to clients. My first website. Back in the day I was so hung up on getting things ‘forever right’ straight up, but I see know that, in almost any endeavour, that’s a fools errand. Your tastes will change. Humanity’s body of knowledge is constantly growing. Shit happens. Instead, just aim for delighting yourself and your clients where you/they are right now.
And one more thing: Back when I was in my early 20s and starting out I thought I had a better chance of being successful if I followed a more conservative, mainstream path. Now I KNOW TO MY CORE that’s bona fide bullshit. Instead, here’s what I know to be true:
If you want you can probably be the best in the world at what you do, so pick something you love.
Now I’d love to hear from you. What’s a fun tidbit you know now that you wish you’d known straight out of college? I can’t wait to hear what you share!
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