I’ve recently read somewhere that your 20’s are you selfish years, your 20’s are your ‘f*** it’ years and I guess its true. I’ve heard people describe their twenties as being young enough to make mistakes and blame your age but old enough to take on responsibility. Young enough to take risks but old enough to make life investments. I get that your twenties are about finding your purpose (in work and in life), but no one really talks about the journey to finding it or just how frustrating that journey really is.
I’m 23, a psychology graduate and in the space of graduating 2 years ago I’ve worked in finance, digital research and volunteered sharks in South Africa. You could say I don’t quite know what I want to do with my life… Actually you could describe me as a “millennial job hopper” as a recruitment agent once did.
My first job was in finance (I’ve no idea how I was employed to work in finance when I had zero background), I worked there for 9 months and decided that wasn’t quite for me. I then thought I wanted to use my degree and found a UX (user experience) consultant position, which was looking for psychology graduates for its digital research role. I thought this would be perfect for me, however i lasted all of three months. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the job I fell back into this sense of “is this really what I want to do?” So I handed my notice in and told my line manager “I’m off to work with sharks”. I think it was the up there with one of the best most random reason for leaving he’d ever heard.
When I look around at people my age, I see people doing a range of different things. Some people have found their feet after uni and are successfully pursuing their careers. Others have jetted off abroad travelling and have started their lives again in a warmer climate and some I’ve seen focus on settling down getting married and having children.
Then there is me, still absolutely clueless as to what I should be doing, should I buy a house? Should I be 2 years into my career? Should I get travelling out my system then start a career? Should I sit on the sofa and just watch The Kardashians (probably the least sensible of my pending questions). I think the list of questions and uncertainties in your twenties are endless. But here is what think I’ve learnt in the first third of mine…
1.There’s no such thing as ‘adulting’: When I was younger I was so exciting to be in my twenties because I thought I’d be an adult and I’d have my sh** together (I really don’t FYI). Adulting is a myth; you don’t become an adult you just grow up. You start to realise that Nutella or last nights take away pizza for dinner just ain’t cutting it anymore.
2.Not everyone likes you and it will have nothing to do with you (unless your mean then it might be you… so stop doing that). Stop trying to please everyone and make everyone like you. You won’t gel with everyone and the sooner you accept that the happier you’ll be. You’re not defined by your Instagram likes or Facebook friends (I’m pretty sure I’m due a Facebook cull soon). Just be kind to yourself, be the best person you can be and screw the rest.
3.You’ll get declined for jobs because you have no work experience. The entire education system says: “you need to go to university, it will get you a job”, Employer says: “so what relevant work experience do you have”. I don’t have an answer for this, but its pretty damn annoying.
4.ALWAYS stick up for yourself and your ideas (life lesson in general). No matter what youre doing with your life in your early twenties, just be certain (or wing it if you’re not) that it is what you should be doing. Because people won’t always agree that the voluntary work your doing will get you that job or they won’t see the point in spending all your life savings travelling the world. People will always have their opinions on your life, the crucial thing is they are not living it.
5.Don’t be forced to get a job in your degree if you don’t want to. Common responses to this are… “Why did you just get into £30000 of debt if you’re not going to use it”. My response to this “ I had a bloody good time, I met amazing people, I learnt stuff, I learnt how to live on my own, to cook for myself, to budget (albeit badly), I learnt independence and I pretty much just learnt life” and to me £30000 is a pretty good price tag for that. Unless your degree is so specialised in every way, that there is not a single transferable skill you can apply to another field (which I highly doubt), then your degree will always be of benefit to you.
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