Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What Erin Would Tell Her 20 Year-Old Self

Guest post by: Erin Helcl of Urban Thirty Something

I was only 20 when I graduated from college, ready to take on a new career, challenges, responsibilities and experiences. Here are a few pieces of wisdom that I have learned since then and if I could, I would share them with my 20 year-old self.

My 20 year-old self just out of school
1) Face Fear Head On – You are young and have lots of time to bounce back if a chance you take doesn’t work out exactly as planned. To me, your 20s should be about learning who you are and who you are not.  The best way to learn these lessons is through taking risks and trying new things. Go for what you want and learn from your successes and failures. Whether it’s moving to a new country, jumping out of an airplane, speaking your mind, approaching someone new, or dancing like no one is watching, you can learn something from any outcome if you keep your mind open and don’t let fear get in your way.

2) Plan for the Future – While this point may seem to contradict the last, it is important to strike a balance in life and be aware that decisions made today will impact our lives down the road. Retirement may seem like a long way off to your 20-something self but starting an RRSP, investments, or some sort of savings plan will pay off sooner than you think. Whatever the vision for your future is, a dollar saved today will make that dream easier to achieve. On a typical 20-something salary saving money can seem overwhelming. So start small and as your salary increases so should your savings. Do this before you get used to spending your new sum on an increased cost of living.

3) Take Time for Yourself – I think that living alone is something that everyone should experience. Perhaps this is because I never did. But I think that being confident that you can make it on your own is an important step in finding the right people to spend your time with. Whether you are looking for friendship or love, knowing that you can be alone allows you to save your time for the right people that add value to your life.

Facing fear by skydiving, of course
4) Be Prepared to Move On – Love and relationships can be complicated no matter what stage of life you’re in. I am certainly no expert but there are a couple of things about love I wish I’d realized sooner. The first being that if you have to chase after someone or wait around for them to realize just how amazing you are, you are better off moving on. Love that is right shouldn’t require any convincing. Secondly, don’t try to find someone to fill a void in your life. When you love who you are and where you are in life, you’ll attract more positive attention.

5) Don’t Make Assumptions  – We can be guilty of passing judgment as to why those around us make the choices they do. It’s common to let our personal values; motivations and insecurities shape our opinions of why others make their decisions. Not sure why your friend missed your birthday party? Just ask; chances are the real reason isn’t nearly as dramatic as what you’ve dreamed up.

Toasting my 30th Birthday @ Terroni's
As an early 30-something, I have to say that I often need to remind myself of many of these points. Older and wiser friends and family members tried to give me much of this advice when I was younger, but being the know-it-all I was (and perhaps still am) I wanted to make my own decisions and learn these lessons for myself. While I really think there is something to be said for learning from our mistakes and successes, I also believe that we are lucky to be able to learn from those that have had the opportunity to experience some of life’s lessons.

What would you tell your 20 year-old self?

Erin Helcl is a Toronto-based blogger of Urban Thirty Something. Check out her site!

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