I am only 22 years old and I can’t have everything yet.
The belief that the very second you are handed a college degree you are also going to land a glamorous job, live comfortably in a modern apartment in the city and hobnob every night with all of the most successful 20-somethings in the industry…is far-fetched. Has anyone else noticed this is exactly how our parents’ generation tends to stereotype us Gen-Y-ers? As entitled brats who have no grasp on the meaning of hard work? I think of myself as the proud antitheses to that stereotype.
Now, I know I’m not the only one. But I also know there are many who are somehow clinging to that belief, and its unfortunate. Because they are setting themselves up for plain old pain (and also making the rest of us look bad).
My belief that a lot of people still have this completely ludicrous expectation for an automatically dispensed lifestyle is confirmed by one thing. The amount of people my age I’ve seen roll into a pit of depression once they add up the numbers and, “Wait, I’m negative? What now? Can I pay rent with an AmEx?” is disturbing. They are shocked to see there is no way they can afford to move out of mom & dad’s house while working their entry level job and making car payments on their brand new Jetta. Fat chance. Not unless they want to give up $10 cocktails, weekend trips away, and many other unnecessary things they thought simply landing a full-time job authorized them to indulge in. And, oh, how tragic would that be?
Do you know what I realized post-grad?
Reality is not cocktail hour schmoozing, mani-pedi’s, and mimosas every weekend while living in a charming apartment uptown.
Reality is working as many hours as you can get your hands on (50+ between three jobs) because maybe getting a full-time position in your career field isn’t going to happen right away but that shouldn’t be enough to stop you from chasing your goals. Reality is doing what you have to do until you get there.
Reality for this girl is moving into an apartment on the less fortunate side of town where the paper-thin walls revealing a mother screaming at her crying babies in Spanish every morning. Because rent is expensive and day-to-day life, minus the luxury, isn’t cheap. Reality was working three jobs at minimum wage until I could use my degree full-time.
Imagine my shock when I realized Sex & The City was not exactly true-to-life for a 20 year old. That shock lasted about one month, when the job offers didn’t exactly come pouring in this summer. I did what I had to do, and I’m happy about it. Trust me, it doesn’t do you any good to be bitter because your fairy godmother didn’t drop your dream job (as a fashion columnist) in your lap.
Just because you arent living glamorously yet does not mean you never will.
You are only twenty-something.
My advice & realization: Do not waste your time complaining. So what if you don’t have the money to do whatever you want? Who does? So what if sometimes you have to still eat ramen for dinner (I happen to love ramen, actually. So it worked out for me)? Learn how to cut corners and still be fabulous. Enjoy the treasure hunt that is thrift store shopping and save money. Learn how to love the taste of home-brewed coffee and save the Starbucks for special occasions. Learn how to pack a lunch instead of eating out every day. Be realistic.
Working hard for what you have is more to be proud of than being born into riches and never expecting or tolerating anything different.
The words that I live by:
It is only up from here. I will not be in this place forever, but I’ll enjoy it for what it is. Nothing will feel better than earning an upgrade someday.
Spend your 20’s enjoying what you’ve worked for so far, and dreaming about what your continued hard work will someday earn you.
But you don’t need it all now. You’re only twenty-something.