Falling into the “young adult” category is possibly the most confusing time to be alive. In certain scenarios you are expected to act like an adult and know what you are doing, like when filing your taxes and paying off student loans. Then in other situations you get the short end of the stick for being the youngest person in the room, like trying to figure out your entry level job. All that we know for certain is that change is inevitable. It is impossible to be in your early 20s and not have exponential personal growth year over year. Nothing is comfortable, nothing is stable, nothing is guaranteed. A lesson that I have had to learn (the hard way if we are being completely honest) is that growth is uncomfortable, but so necessary. Let me give you a few examples of what I mean:
- Finding new opportunities and taking them
As a young adult, you start from the bottom. Like the very very bottom. The most entry level job (and pay), the smallest apartment, the smallest budget. You are the lowest level possible, and that’s where you have to start. But hey, you have a job, you have an apartment, you are fortunate right? Swapping the meaning of fortunate and comfortable in your mind is dangerous because when the opportunities come that help you grow, you need to take them. Other people who are too deep in the “comfortable-ness” of their position will tell you that making moves to help you grow is too risky, do it anyways. Look for the job that will make you happier, look for the group of people who share the same interests as you. Meeting new people is scary, but the growth is necessary.
- Figuring out your morals and if the people you surround yourself with share them
When you no longer have anything to protect you, it becomes obvious more quickly than ever before what is important to you and what isn’t. Possibly even more difficult than figuring out what is important to you, is figuring out if your friends share those same values. And if they don’t, are they really your friends? Do you want them to be your friends? Creating a circle of people who you care about and who care about you is work. Since when was making friends such hard work? As we get older we realize more and more about the things that happen around us, now is the time to start making choices based on that information.
- Finding out when you need to put your head down and push through
Remember when we were talking about being at the lowest level? Well, that means a lot of this time in our lives is filled with moments of “grin and bear it” attitudes. Put your head down and do the work you wouldn’t normally want to or have to do. Build up a reputation at work as being the person who always shows up early and stays late. Put yourself out there! Reach out to people who you know probably won’t respond, but you know they could really use hearing from you. Be the bigger person and get it done.
- Figuring out when to leave
In the same breath that I say you need to do the hard work, you also need to learn when that work isn’t worth is for you. Is that job really not for you? Leave. Is that relationship not making you happy? Leave. Is that friendship taking too much from you? Leave. Is that situation making you uncomfortable? Leave. You don’t need to apologize or give an explanation. You need to do what is best for you and get out of situations that aren’t good for you. The trick is figuring out what is just hard, and what is not worth it.
When the going gets tough, remember, you are not alone. This stage of life is difficult. The challenges you rise through now help you develop a sense of character that will follow you through the rest of your life. That growth molds you into who you are. It gives you a chance to become someone you are proud of.