Things I Wish I Knew In My Early 20s | Dear Graduates

  Life after university is a scary place, especially if you have trained your entire life for school. Suddenly you’re unemployed, with bills to pay and support from your parents has lost its little appeal. You are not alone in feeling this way. There comes a time where everyone graduates and begins to explore the world of work. It won’t be long until you start to realize how competitive the job market is which can really dampen one’s spirit but part of being human means adjusting to change. Sure, it’s easier said than done but please don’t panic! Also try not to compare yourself to anyone else as they are probably going through this too and no one knows how long it will last or what the outcome will be. It’s normal to go through a ‘quarter-life crisis’ so take comfort in knowing that many other people around the world are experiencing this as well. However, there are things that I wish I had learned earlier and I will share those with you now.

You have to start somewhere 

Even if it means taking a job that doesn’t pay great or isn’t in your field of study. You can work on the things you enjoy after hours and make a career out of it later on. In any case, there’s no right or wrong way to go about doing this. Right now you’re doing it for the experience and the learning.

Define what success in life is to you 

At this point, you may know what career path you want to pursue. If not, don’t worry. It’s okay to take some time off and relax before deciding on something big like that! Having a successful life is different for everyone. A lot of people find happiness in their family, friends, or significant other (if you have one). Others find success in a corporate job while some find success following their passion. Your success in life is not measured by someone else’s idea of what success is and what it should look like, so don’t feel pressured to find it their way. You should work towards finding something that brings joy into your life and makes you happy.

Setting boundaries are important in all relationships

You are allowed to be honest with your friends about their behaviour that you do not approve of or if they are bringing you down. If the friendship doesn’t work out because of this, it’s okay. You are going to outgrow some friends in your twenties, as life pulls you in different directions. There are plenty more people who would love for you to be part of their life and support you wholeheartedly. Be sure to set boundaries with your co-workers as well. When you spend too much time trying to please other people and being available for them, you neglect the one person who should matter most, you.

It’s not what you have but what you can do with it

If you’re currently in an academic program or recently graduated, take this advice to heart. It’s not what diploma, degree or masters you hold but what you can do with it. Take the skills that your program taught you and apply them towards your passion or start your own company to make something out of your credentials! The most common problem when applying for jobs is not having enough experience in your field of study. Be an innovator, create a new project or start up in your field or in a field you’re passionate about.

Remember that first impressions really do last a lifetime 

When you meet new people for the first time, be the best version of yourself, not the version you think they want you to be. A lot of times if they don’t like you initially they won’t to give you a second chance. Think about your first impression of other people and your willingness to pursue any sort of relationship with them, whether professional or casual. Networking is important in today’s landscape but don’t lose your individuality. Oh! And where interviews are concerned, if they didn’t like you and you didn’t get a call back, at least you don’t have to see them again in life; but if you do get a call back, Congratulations!

Learn to take responsibility for your actions, it’s an opportunity to learn and grow from your mistakes.

Don’t beat yourself up, but reflecting on the situation and holding yourself accountable for all your actions shows courage and strength of character.  And it’s a pretty solid life skill to have under your belt.  It’ll help you grow into the person you want to become, and that will set you apart from the rest of your peers.

Take a break from social media

Sure, staying connected with friends is important but take a break from social media every once in a while. Social media becomes a way for people to showcase their lives to others and compare themselves with everyone else. Always remember people post the good things online, not their struggles or the lessons they’ve learned along the way. You have your own life going on so forget about the life that’s being displayed online and focus on yourself.

Your family wants what’s best for you but they can be wrong too

Your family is your true support, but they aren’t always right about everything. Figure out what works best for you and go with it. Listen to what loved ones have to say on certain things, but remember that the ultimate decision is yours and not anyone else’s. Besides, it may be safe to say, no one has done more research on the things you’re interested in and want to pursue than you!

Think before you speak 

This is a hard one to learn, but when we do we make everyone else’s life 10x easier as well as our own. It is important not only for self-preservation but for awareness about what you are saying and how that could affect other people.

Get out from behind the screen and live a life you’ll look back on and feel no regrets about

Believe me, I know that as a young adult it’s all too easy to lose yourself in the virtual world, but that is not the place you’ll hold fond memories of when you’re older.   Do everything at least once – travel, hikes, fetes, shave your head, entirely up to you – but don’t be afraid to try new things.

And finally, being an adult doesn’t mean you’re wiser nor does it mean you’ve got your life together 

Adult life is full of responsibility, none of which you may be ready for. But with time and effort, you’ll get there, you’ll learn new things every day. In the meantime, don’t worry about not being perfect or super put together yet. You have to go with it until your ship comes in. You’re going to feel a little lost when it comes to finding yourself in this whirlwind of life, but that’s OK. It’s like a rite of passage. Everyone feels lost sometimes- just know that everyone else is too and you’re not alone.



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