As I approach my birthday I always reflect on my year, where I’m at in life, what my future goals are, and how I’ve changed and / or grown as a person. I also recently received a question for my Q+A videos to discuss career advice I’d give myself in my early 20’s. I’m not a stranger to that topic, as I have 2 younger sisters that are in their early 20’s and trying to find their way. It amazes me how different my perspective of just about everything is now than it was just 4 or 5 years ago when I was in my early 20’s.
Experience and knowledge are the most powerful tools I could ever ask for. Yes, school is important to develop a sense of discipline and perhaps give you business sense, but nothing can replace experience. Arguably, in a city like LA or NYC who you know is also just as important. I guess it just depends on the type of job you want. I can really only speak on fashion-related jobs, as that has been my life since I was old enough to work, but hopefully you can take away some advice from my list below.
ADVICE I’D GIVE MYSELF IN MY EARLY 20’S:
-Don’t be in a relationship. I didn’t follow this, and yes, I married my early 20’s boyfriend, but until you’ve developed as a person you should stay single. Date, go on many dates, experience different people, as they will all leave their mark in a way. You don’t want to adapt the personality of another person too early, because then you won’t develop on your own. I find myself to have a strong personality, and while Paul has definitely influenced me as a person (in good + bad ways), I still make a point of reflecting on myself as an individual to make sure I’m being me, not a version of me influenced by Paul.
-Meet people. Whether it’s in a business or social setting, mingle, expand your network. It does you good to know an attorney, a doctor, a business professional, an entrepreneur, a socialite, someone in fashion, a restaurant owner…catch my drift? Not to be confused with using people. Make relationships, one day they might be able to help you out and hopefully you, them.
–Try everything. Ok, ok, maybe not everything, but don’t be closed-minded. I find that trait to be extremely unattractive in people. I used to be closed-minded about a lot of things but as I’ve gotten older and tried them, I actually love some of the things that I was depriving myself of. Being open-minded has really opened my eyes to a lot.
–Don’t judge others. This one correlates with the last one about trying things. If you decide not to participate / try something, don’t judge others for choosing to do so. And in general, being judge-y is such an ugly characteristic. If anything it makes YOU look insecure if you have to judge others. As girls it’s easy to be catty, and with my best friend I have no problem gossiping for hours, but it’s mindless chatter, not the way I go about my life. I have a much more accepting view of people now than I ever did.
–Take chances. But be smart about it. If you’re unhappy in your job and know you have to move on, don’t do so without thinking through the logistics. Ideally, find something to replace your job, give 2-weeks notice, then move on. Don’t get stuck in a stressful situation over it. If you want to start your own business (awesome!), just make sure you have enough saved up to cover your expenses for X-amount of time.
-Intern! OMG, would you even believe me if I said I’ve never been an intern? Maybe it’s because I’ve always had a job, but one thing I wish I did while attending FIDM was intern. I believe everything happens for a reason but I do wonder what would have happened if I interned in PR. I could see myself being a publicist. However, I finally found my path and know this is what I’m meant to do.
-Save money, but also spend money. You never know what tomorrow brings, have a little something saved just in case. At the same time, don’t work just to pay your bills. Live within your means, but allow yourself to enjoy life as well.
-Travel. As often as humanly possible. I know it’s not always realistic to travel a ton, but if / when you can, do it! Responsibility only grows as you get older, so take advantage of the freedom while you can. I’m self-employed but my husband is not so our schedules don’t always line up when I have the chance to spontaneously travel. It sucks, but that’s reality.
-Be super busy. This last one is kind of broad, but basically since graduating high school I have not sat still. Sure, I take vacations to relax and definitely have a good time often (trying to cut back on the fun, in fact LOL), BUT, I always have a million things on my plate. Sometimes it backfires, as I’m spreading myself too thin, but being tired is good for you at this age. You have your entire “older” life to be boring, at home, etc. While you have the stamina, go for it, attend events even when battling traffic sounds awful, you’re tired from your real job, and you might even be broke. You will come to find that staying busy presents so many opportunities that are not available to you sitting on the couch at home.
Putting yourself in a state of mind that revolves around getting sh*t done, putting your face in the place, and juggling multiple jobs to afford that trip to Europe is perfectly acceptable when you’re in your early 20’s. And hey, if you’re still grinding (like me), that’s cool, too.