Notes To My Younger Self is helping spread the word about The Post College Survival Kit. We learned the hard way so you don’t have to! You don’t have to wait till your thirties for a better job, a cuter apartment, financial stability, better relationships + friendships.
Sarah of Yes & Yes recently asked if I'd like join her blog crawl. As a newbie blogger, I said, "Sure!" (but I secretly thought, "Should I know what that is?"). The gist: Sarah asked some of her favey-fave bloggers to give advice to their younger selves. So, Young Molly, put down that Diet Coke (It's full of poison and you don't even like it that much.), pause that Postal Service CD and let's do some learning.
1. If you want something, ask.
This means speaking up when you're in a packed car driving back from Lollapalooza and really, really need to go to the bathroom (even though you just stopped 8 minutes ago). It means telling a friend you need them to come over and drink a bottle of wine with you as you cry over a break-up. It means you shouldn't just think about landing that dream job, you should find a person who already has it and ask them if they'll meet you for coffee. Most people are open to that-- especially when a young person has taken the initiative to seek them out. It's flattering and they will see themselves in you. Be your charming self & who knows? They might even hire you.
2. Pay your dues.
Three months of data entry, running errands and grabbing lunch at an internship is not paying your dues. Paying your dues will probably take years. Until then, be helpful at work. Offer to stay late to assist a coworker. Save your complaints about mindless grunt work for happy hour with friends. Don't just dump your coffee mug in the break room sink, do all the dishes.
You'll know you've paid your dues when people at your company start looking to you as an authority on something other than running errands. Be patient, it will happen. And at that point, you'll have the leverage to get what you want (or simply have the street cred to land the job you love).
3. Stop trying to make it work with that exotic, mysterious boy you met on vacation.
It's not going to work with him, nor will it work with older guy who is still living with his ex-girlfriend. It's not going to work with the guy who always seems to be out with his buddies, but is always too busy to call. And that romantic guy who doesn't have a car "because he doesn't believe in them" and always forgets his wallet when you go out? He'll be fun to make out with for like, three dates, but after that, he's just going to borrow your car and eat your food. All. The. Time.
Dating these guys is fine. Just know it's going nowhere and quit trying to force it.
You'll know you've found a good one when all of a sudden everything is easy. He calls you all the time (but not in a creepy way). He thinks you're smart and funny and beautiful and he tells you and means it. He doesn't bitch when you ask for a back rub. He appreciates you and cleans off your windshield when it snows. He says thanks for making dinner. He'll even do the dishes.
Date all the dirty musicians, exotic ex-pats and manic older (but not wiser!) guys you want. Marry an engineer. They are the best guys.
4. A Lot of People Are Big, Dumb Idiots.
Don't go ahead and assume that just because someone has some fancy-ass job or title, wrote a book or lives in a perfectly Pinterest-y apartment that they're smarter/better than you. For every super-talented person out there, there are literally dozens of bozos faking it. Some people are simply lucky. Some people mindlessly climbed the corporate ladder. Some people don't care if they're in the red, just so long as their life looks amazing to people on the outside. Stop thinking you aren't smart enough. Stop comparing your insides to other people's outsides.
And kind of along the same lines: a lot of people lack the self-awareness to know they are pretty mediocre at whatever it is that they're doing. In some sick, twisted way, this is actually a strength. When you believe you're great at something, you're better at self-promotion. Stop questioning how good you are at what you do and start selling yourself a little harder.
5. Invest in Your Future.
If your company offers a 401K or some other savings dealio, enroll & match their contribution. Figure out a way to make a portion of your paycheck automatically deposit into a savings account (you're not going to miss a few bucks every pay period. Promise). You'll be shocked at how quickly those accounts will grow without your having to even think about it.
Of course, 'investing in your future' doesn't have to be all boring and stuff. I'd argue the most important way to invest in your future is this....
6. Don't Ever Assume the Fun Stuff Can Wait.
Young Molly, you're now 32-years-old. More then a half-dozen of your high school classmates have died. You've cried with friends battling cancer. You've helplessly looked on as a woman you've always admired became a shell of her former self, just as she was planning her retirement. F*$&ing Alzheimer's!
If you want to do something, do it. Nobody shells out awards for living an austere life. Do the fun stuff while you can. Your obligations? Nil. Responsibilities? Just make sure you have health insurance and some savings.
If you want to travel, get your GD passport and do it. You'll never be able to travel as cheaply again (trust me, even at age 27 the thought of staying in a hostel will make you want to barf). Write a book. Learn to cook. Go skinny dipping. Stop talking about things. Do things.
* * *
Huge thanks to Sarah for asking me to partake in this insightful project. Of course, you want to find out more & you can at this link: The Post College Survival Kit.