Post Grads – Welcome to the Real World
–Tips and tricks for mastering the haphazard, early-twenties adventure often referred to as “Adulting.”–
1. Don’t be afraid to let go and move on. Failure isn’t changing your path, it’s staying in situations that make you miserable because you’re too afraid to walk away.
2. If you always choose convenience over the amount of time it takes to do a little extra planning, you are basically chucking your money out the window and into the breeze.
3. A perfect example of this is transportation. Learn to navigate public transportation and seek advice from your veteran colleagues and friends because you’ll need it.
4. For parking in new places, go to this magical website called http://www.bestparking.com/ and find the free or cheapest places to park near your location.
5. If you don’t execute travel efficiently, especially if you move to the city, you’ll end up trading your grocery budget for parking ticket fees and one day an irritable Italian dude wearing a tank top will tow your car during a snowstorm in January.
6. Travel. Travel often and travel smart. Don’t forget to check out the travel sites that offer trips specifically for people in their twenties, like http://www.under30experiences.com/
7. Be confident and embrace your passions. In school, you can be perceived negatively by your peers for being over-the-top excited and nerdy about what you enjoy. In the adult world, that’s how you succeed and stand out.
8. Don’t put off paying your student loans. The banks may offer you somewhat misleading reduced plans that make payments seem manageable for now, but will be piling on loads of interest over time. Don’t let ’em fool you. Find the best repayment plan for you.
9. Network. It sounds nerdy and may feel awkward at first, but giving someone a business card or connecting on LinkedIn can mean the difference between an awesome job, a crappy job and no job at all.
10. Try to call home or visit when you can. Facetime Grandma and/or your family dog. Hold on to the connections that remind you who of you are, because it’s easier than you may think to lose pieces of yourself.
11. If you don’t have Venmo, get Venmo. Venmo is life.
12. Set goals and consider them every time you make a legitimate decision.
13. Find mentors and people you aspire to become. Ask them questions and learn from them.
14. Try to save money. You’ll start feeling like a straight-up baller after you get a few paychecks that rival your entire college earnings in a few months. BUT that doesn’t mean you can start picking up everyone’s bar tab at Quizzo. Rest assured, you’re likely still pretty broke. Here’s a great budget app. Use it.
15. You CAN save money on groceries without being one of those extreme coupon ladies with fifty containers of peanut butter in her pantry. Just don’t buy name brand items with little to no added value. You don’t need branded dish soap and frozen nuggets, you need electric. (And margaritas. You need them too some days.)
16. Try to plan out meals as much as possible. I’m not saying you have to #MealPrep every Sunday with the nutrition gurus, but if you go into the week with zero clue what food you have or can make, take out goes from Plan B to Plan A way too often.
17. Let go of the people in your life who don’t make an active effort to be in it. Life only gets busier as you get older, and seeing your friends eventually starts to feel like an uphill battle against adulthood. You only want to fight for those who you know would and do fight for you too.
18. Don’t sell yourself short. If at age 22 you walk into a room filled with professionals, you’re likely going to the youngest and least qualified person there. If you tell yourself that, then that’s what you become. If you instead focus on what you can contribute and what value you represent, you are choosing a different identity for yourself.
19. Resist the urge to compare yourself to your peers. Everyone has a unique path and professional/educational milestones happen at different points for different people.
20. Read articles and listen to podcasts that interest you. Keep your mind fresh. Check out this list of podcasts for ambitious millennials.
21. Try to use negative feedback and setbacks to grow and improve.
22. Work hard and believe in your capabilities. Accept a few late nights and extra cups of coffee. Understand that you’ll have to push yourself to accomplish your dreams and that’s what will make them so worthwhile.
23. Also remember to take breaks. Have fun. Explore and engage with others. Don’t let yourself drown in the challenges and instability of life in your twenties.
24. Be mindful of your health. Eat right, exercise when possible and don’t neglect your mental health either.
25. Ask for help if you need it. This is the time to learn and people will respect you for that, trust me.
26. Keep your resume and LinkedIn updated. Build your personal brand. We now live in a digital world that doesn’t require you to actively seek career options. Incredible opportunities can just land in your lap if you’re prepared and open to that.
27. Don’t feel pressured to rush into any personal decisions. As unromantic as this sounds, you have your whole life to get married and raise children. You don’t have to do those things to be an adult in thriving in the real world. Many of us are still working to find ourselves in our twenties, let alone find the person we can confidently decide to spend the rest of our lives with. It needs to be something you do when you’re ready.
28. Understand the reality of those decisions and how they fit into your plans. Marriage isn’t emulated in the glittery wedding photos on Pinterest. The reality is a lifetime’s worth of compromise and hard work. The same goes for cute little babies that actually represent decades worth of helping a human grow. Everyone has their own timeline. Stand by the personal and professional goals you set. Don’t allow yourself to get pressured either way.
29. Step outside of your comfort zone. Take chances. Fall in love with new places, new faces and new experiences.
30. Give yourself a break. Accpet change. You’re going to fall down a couple times as you master the first several years of adulthood. You may change jobs, change friends and change boyfriends a few times. You could get lost in weird parts of town, shed some tears about the state of your bank account after bills and maybe even have your own run-in with the grumpy tow truck guy. That’s perfectly fine.
When I was 17, I can remember yelling at my mom in my best teenage angst voice that-“I can’t wait to turn 18 so I can become an adult and live my own life!”
My 17-year-old statement was flawed for a number of reasons, but the most prevalent being the idea that there’s some brain switch or life event that triggers our sudden transformation into adulthood. That’s not the case. Becoming an adult is a journey. It’s filled with late nights, wrong turns, crazy people, quick lessons and just enough heart to get you exactly where you’re supposed to be going.