This is a Young Professional Advice from Friends post written by David Berezin from 20Somethings in 2013. YPAF is a collection of voices from different ages, places and industries to share advice on starting off and being twenty.
What’s hardest about my twenties:
Growing up, I had this notion that by the time I was in my twenties, I’d have my life figured out. I’d have a stable career, I’d be getting married…I’d be a grownup in every sense of the word.
Perhaps that’s because when I was a kid, my twenties seemed so far away, like this point that was always on the horizon. So when I finally arrived at my early twenties and didn’t have a stable career or even a steady girlfriend (let alone a wife), I felt like I had failed.
My whole life, I’ve been hardworking and diligent: I got straight A’s, went to an Ivy League school, and did extracurricular activities. But none of that seems to matter to employers, who are more focused on experience and qualifications. I’ve worked so hard for all these years, and at the stage of my life when it’s supposed to be paying off, I’m getting so little in return.
What’s best about my twenties:
Although I lamented not having a steady career or a family, their absence factors into what I enjoy most about my twenties: the freedom to explore different options while you’re still young and time is still on your side.
You don’t have children to support; you don’t have a mortgage to pay. You’re only responsible to yourself, which gives you the freedom to go new places, to try new things, and to make choices based on personal fulfillment rather than finances.
It’s easy to stay where you are and never challenge the status quo; it’s harder to take risks and face the possibility of failure. But when you’re so young, and you have so much time to explore who you are and what you’re passionate about, staying put might be the biggest risk of all.
Advice for twenty-somethings:
When it comes to your job search, I think that what most matters most isn’t your education or your experience or even the economy. What matters most is your confidence: your ability to believe in yourself and convince others to believe in you too.
But it’s hard to maintain your confidence when you’re struggling to find employment, when you’re constantly getting rejections, and when the jobs that you do get are those where you’re underpaid, underused, and mistreated.
So I would advise all you twenty-somethings who are unemployed or underemployed to find an activity that builds your confidence. You could start a blog, take up a sport, or even make dinner – so long as it gives you a sense of pride and achievement.
Because if you’re not confident in yourself, why should anybody else be?
I’m an alumnus of Cornell University. My biggest career interests are writing and filmmaking. Also, I run a blog called 20somethings in 2013, where people in their twenties share stories and advice about beginning a career in this economy. I encourage you to read my blog, and if you’re in your twenties, to write an entry about your own experiences:
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org