Ten years ago I was a 17 year old high school student who let the opinions of other people largely influence my choices. It was a dumb way to live, considering that ten years later, those people whose opinions I held in such high regard arent even a part of my life anymore!
The times when someone elses opinion of you truly matters are few and far between. Think first impressions, like meeting your significant others family, meeting a new client, or meeting a potential employer for a job interview.
Dont let other people rent space in your head. What they think of you isnt important. What matters most is how you feel about yourself.
When I cared about what other people might think about me, I never tried new things. I was afraid that if I sucked at something, Id be embarrassed. To spare myself the embarrassment of being bad at something new, I would never explore opportunities to learn a new skill, or start a new hobby.
Looking back on it, I see it as lots of time lost!
Nowadays Im always anxious to put myself out there and learn something new. I sing at karaoke, I enter juggling contests, and I play Euchre even though I suck at all of them. I try new things as they come up, whether its a new restaurant, a new beer, or a new pastime. When you try new things, you discover more and more things that you enjoy.
Currently, I have plans to master the piano, the pool table, the surfboard, and the pen in my lifetime. Theyre things that I know I love. Still, if you were to introduce me to a unicycle today, Id hop right on to try and take it for a spin, fall off, and then hop on again!
As Harold and Maude put it best, Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just cant let the world judge you too much.
People cant read your mind. This goes for your significant other, your employer, and that hot girl youre too scared to talk to.
Ten years ago I was dating someone I no longer wanted to date. I knew that I was unhappy in the relationship, but she didnt. Consequently, I waited and waited for things to improve, but they never did. I want to scream at my young self: Well no shiet things didnt improve. You never told her anything was wrong!
Relationships cant improve unless you communicate. This applies to your relationship with your employer also if youre working hard at your job and believe that you deserve a raise, you probably wont get it unless you ask for it.
Simply put, your supervisor doesnt know what you want. Dont wait for them to come to you, because your blood will boil over and youll end up quitting before it ever happens. Ask to meet privately and spell it out for them!
As for that hot girl, if you dont say anything before she walks out that door, then shes going to walk out of your life forever having never known you. Dont let it happen. Learn to communicate so people can know you.
Professors. Classmates. Roommates. Neighbors. Frats. Sororities. Clubs. Students outside of your major. Students outside of your social clique. Returning students that are older than you. Teaching assistants. Resident assistants. Adjuncts. Tutors. Career advisors. Deans. Librarians. Friends.
Why? Networking. When employers look for a good match for a job opening, the first thing they do is ask the people theyre already working with if they know someone who would do well in the position. They tend to look through resumes as a last resort.
College is the best opportunity youll ever have to build a complex, varied network of smart people. Use it to your advantage and get your name out there, because grades mean nothing in the real world.
Also, live it up, because college is fuking awesome. Trust me when I tell you that after youve graduated, youll go through college withdrawal. Theres a reason why so many people say its the best four years of your life.
No matter how good it might feel to tell your boss to suck it right before storming out of a dead-end job forever, it is never worth it. You will probably need another job someday, and you might just need some good references to get it.
Giving up all opportunities for future recommendations for one fleeting moment to tell your employer what you really think about them is a bad trade. Give two weeks notice, and say thanks for the opportunity to work with them even if its bullshiet.
Even though you may have been hot shiet in college, or at your last job, it will not grant you the slightest amount of entitlement in a new position for a new employer. In many companies, youre basically getting in line to wait your turn to move up the ladder, and it may take years to advance beyond positions of indentured servitude.
Stick to it. Hopping from company to company looking for something better may allow you to get ahead in the short-term, but in the long-term your resume will become a mishmash of temporary stints that makes you look like a quitter.
In the end, persistence creates an impression of dedication and relevant experience and it will outshine any other attribute, every time.
So take a look around. If youre absolutely certain youre on the right career path, then stick to it. Pay your dues. Climb ladders. It will be your turn soon enough.
When you invest in yourself you can never lose. This applies to everything:
Learn to cook. Youll save a bajillion dollars on food in your lifetime.
Learn a foreign language. Youll expand your horizons and be easily employable.
Learn to spend less than you earn. Youll never be broke.
Change requires two things: a conscious decision to accomplish something, and follow-through. If you want something accomplished, then do it now. If it cant be done now, then do it today. If it cant be done today, then start it today.
Change is tough, but the most difficult step is getting started. Of course once youve actually started, the most difficult step is following through. Change is tricky like that but know that if you truly want it, youll find a way to create change in your life.
In all walks of life, you wont see eye-to-eye with everyone. People will come out of the woodwork to tell you that youll fail, tell you that you suck, laugh at you, argue with you, call you names, write you messages laced with profanity, and be altogether unpleasant. As Tony Gazzo from Rocky put it, Some guys, they just hate for no reason.
The thing is, although its common to receive negativity from strangers, youll find that even the people you know and love can surprise you with negative attitudes. No matter who it is thats trying to boo you off the stage, dont let them succeed in doing so.
Weve all heard that If you love what you do, you will never work another day in your life. The problem is that few people seem to actually have this luxury.
It seems that somewhere along the line the consensus changed to If you do what you need to do, when you need to do it, then maybe someday you can do what you want to do, when you want to do it. You end up spending the majority of your life waiting for that someday to arrive.
Its mostly unavoidable though, since we spend most of our growing years hearing things like:
You need to go to college.
You need to get a job.
You need to keep working even if you dont like your job, to pay for college.
You need to save for retirement, so that you have the option to retire.
Once you finally make it to retirement, then you can finally do what you want. It seems so backwards, doesnt it?
When Im not distracting myself from how repetitive my job is, I always think about how Im slowly trading away the sunny days of my youth for job security. I show up, put my butt in a chair for eight hours a day, and collect a paycheck. Congratulations, Ive traded away some time for some money.
I dont feel alive at my job. I do shiet thats unimportant to me. Id rather spend my time doing anything else, but the things I want to do wouldnt pay me the way my boring job does.
Consequently, I write. Not because it earns me a lot of money, but because I feel most alive when Im writing. For me, to not write is suicide and I desperately wish that I realized this about me sooner.
If I could offer my younger self some real advice, Id tell myself not to base my career choice on what someone else recommended. Id tell myself not to pick a major because its whats popular. Id tell myself not to get into a career field for the money.
Id tell myself that the right choice is much simpler: Do what you are. As long as youre true to yourself, and follow your own interests, you can find success through passion. Perhaps more importantly, you wont wake up ten years later in a career field you hate wondering What the hell happened?