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Ah, to be 22-years-old again. Young. Full of life. Everything is ahead of you. Life in your early twenties is often a time of fast changes. You graduate college, move different places, start new jobs and begin to figure out what you want and don’t want out of life. It’s a time period of exploration.
Although, a time of exploration usually leads to many confusing periods. You don’t know if you want to stay at this job. You’re not sure if you want to keep doing this career. Should you switch careers? How do you change careers without having to go back to school? Should you break up with your significant other? Why is dating so hard? Oh, and crap, you forgot to turn off the A/C before leaving the house.
As Taylor Swift so eloquently put in her pop anthem “Feelin 22”, you’re often happy, sad, and confused all at the same time.
When I look back on my 22-year-old self, I see a guy who sort of knows what he wants out of life but feels confused amidst all the constant changes. Being young and fresh out of college, a lot of options are pushed at you.
Older adults look at you like you’re an alien when you say you’re not sure if you want to buy a house. According to old fuzzy logic, homeownership is the best thing there is. Renting is just throwing money away *eye roll*. You understand what people are saying but you can’t even imagine saving up the ungodly amount needed for a down payment on a house.
Material possessions get pushed on you at every corner. It’s all under the guise of ‘you deserve it!’. Buy a new car because your old one just won’t do anymore. Go out to eat constantly and call it networking, or brunch, or both. Get the nicest apartment, sans-roommates, that you can get. Those student loans are fine. Just paying the minimums on them is fine (spoiler alert: no it isn’t).
So, my younger self, a lot of things are going to get pushed on you during your twenties. There is going to be an intense pressure by society, peers, and family to constantly be upgrading your lifestyle. Don’t fall into it.
Lifestyle inflation can be a dangerous thing. Don’t contribute too much to it. Let your friends pass you up. They can have their nice cars, restaurant food, big houses, and debt. Focus on you. Stay in your lane! Figure out your why, find your goals and chase them like there is no tomorrow.
Relax and breathe. There is no need to be so stressed out at this point in your life. Right now, you’re relatively string-free. There is no mortgage, kids, or partner holding you down. Relax! Take deep breaths! Everything will work out.
Life is an experience. Learn to enjoy the ride!
Yeah…no. Let me explain. I actually am 22. Right now. Right at this very moment (I just had my half birthday last month!). So why am I writing a list to my 22-year-old self when I am…22? It’s because I’ve been noticing an alarming trend in many of these “what I would tell my younger self” articles. The people writing them seem to almost romanticize their younger self. It’s as if they’ve lost touch with how things were in the situation they look back on.
Let’s assume you just saw a person get in a fender bender. No one gets hurt but the person’s car gets totaled. The people in the car accident would, fittingly, be distraught and stressed. They just totaled their car and they’re already stressed enough about money. After a few years pass, the person looks back on the ordeal and gives a faint smile. I would have told myself to not be so stressed! They reminisce.
It’s easy to offer advice like that. Advice that downplays past situations and even sort of romanticizes them. College commencement address speakers love to offer the ‘embrace failure!’ advice. It’s easier to say that than think about a 22-year-old scraping by with very little after going through a setback.
So, what would I tell my 22-year old self? Listen to advice that doesn’t lean too much on survivorship bias. Remember to take risks, but have them be calculated risks. And most of all, pay attention to advice that doesn’t overly romanticize past times.
To other twenty-somethings out there, I’d refer them to this article, which is filled with solid, sound tips. It’s a good, informative read, sans all the fluffy romanticism.
What do you think of those “what I would tell my younger self” lists?