By Farah Joan Fard
There is so much advice out there directed at those of us in our twenties, whether we’re struggling to find a career or just trying to make a life for ourselves. But many of these articles are written by… twentysomethings.
Don’t get me wrong; advice from my peers is great, not to mention comforting. It’s nice to know that you’re not alone, and to gain perspective from those who are in the same boat as you. Positively Smitten is a great example of this — advice on layoffs, health, etc.
This is true even from when we seek solace and comfort in television characters. Doesn’t it make you feel a little better when Monica Gellar is trying to chase her dream of become a chef, or Rachel Green laments on her job at Central Perk, when she truly wants to work in fashion? Yes! Because we can relate to these feelings of frustration, coming up on our (gulp) thirties.
That being said, some of the best advice I’ve received in conjunction with this time known as our twenties has been by those who have been there, done that. You know… parental figures. Here are a few things they’ve taught me through the years.
Always be able to support yourself financially. This was actually something my grandfather told my mother, and she passed it along to me and my sister. It sounds simple, but it’s important. While traveling, couch surfing, or leaving for a big city with nothing but a dream may seem romantic and adventurous, what happens when the money runs out? I mean, really runs out. I also see some girls out there, still, who seem to be banking on (pun intended) marrying rich — but what if something happens to your partner’s job, or (even worse) to your partner? Honestly, this has been some of the best advice I’ve ever received. I took it seriously and that’s how I was able to get an apartment the same week I got my first job, and how I was able to avoid going broke when I was laid off. I saved money and made choices where I’d be able to support myself if I were alone, or without a steady income.
Be patient with your goals. We live in an age of instant gratification. Social media, online shopping, you name it. But our generation is going to have to be especially patient with their goals, career or otherwise, given the economic circumstances. Though not parental advice, I was given this nugget of truth from an interview I did with Creed Bratton (who you may know from “The Office” or The Grass Roots):
“…Even though you say ‘well, what’s the point’? The point is…the point IS you’ve got to keep doing it. Because it will get better. Even if it doesn’t, you’re going to feel better about yourself. It’s not about saying ‘I gotta do this to be a success’. You do it because you love it. If you don’t do it because you love it, then you’re doing it for the wrong reason. That’s true, that’s very true. And I’m a living example of that. I didn’t hit it really big-well The Grass Roots, yeah sure. Forget about that. I was in my twenties. As far as an actor…I didn’t hit it until I was sixty. Think about that. Most people would give up.”
Appreciate simple things. I was in a Chinese restaurant with my father. He lifted the lid off his order of steamed chicken and began dishing food onto his plate. Then, he stopped. “What is this?” he exclaimed. Perhaps it was my pessimism of seeing so many cranky people at restaurants, but I expected the worst. He pulled out leaves of iceberg lettuce. Still, I expected him to continue with a, “why is there half a head of lettuce in here,” but no. He looked at it with delight and said something to the effect of, “wow, I didn’t know it came with all of this lettuce!” I realized a) how glass-half-empty I’d been feeling and b) how most people probably would not appreciate that much lettuce. Let’s try not to get hung up on the Facebook profile of that girl we haven’t talked to since high school and her seemingly glamorous life, and try to appreciate what we have.
Speak up for yourself. When I was a kid, I would get embarrassed at how loud and opinionated my mother could be. Sometimes, nobody else is going to be an advocate for you but you. I remember being very little, maybe four years old, and being cornered at a roller skating rink by another girl. The girl tried to push me and cover my mouth and nose. I was terrified! But I was shy and didn’t do anything, until my mom came over to save me. She told me to never be afraid to speak up or defend myself. Whether it’s an issue at work, socially, or out and about on the street, don’t forget to be your own advocate. Standing up for yourself doesn’t equate to being pushy or mean, though. Remember that.
Don’t be too hasty. I think we can jump the gun a little when we’re in our twenties. I was offered a new job a while back, and immediately thought I would need to either move closer to the job, since it was a heck of a ride via public transit, or get a car. I was worried about both, financially. My dad advised me to not weigh my living situation on a job, because that can change in an instant. What was I to do? I love my apartment. Boy, am I glad I didn’t move to a more expensive apartment or take on the expense of a car for this job. They cut a handful of positions shortly after I decided to take on the role — including mine! I would have likely been stuck with a crappier, and more expensive, apartment or a car loan for a job that barely was.
Appreciate your family. This, too, sounds trite and cheesy. My mom’s parents died when I was five, while my dad came to this country before the rest of his family, and it wasn’t easy to be in touch with them at that time. Although my family and I may have our ups and downs, I appreciate that they want to be involved with my life, and there’s no ocean or vast timezone between us. Whoever your family is, try to take some time to appreciate them and let them know you care.
Farah Joan Fard is a writer, media producer, and drummer. Her blog, LaParadiddle, focuses on profiling as many careers in music and sound that she can find. She has written for various sites and online magazines, and her non-writing work has mainly been in audio and media production. She enjoys sci-fi, dinosaurs, baked goods, hiking, performing, and watching ’90s television shows with her cat, Aria.
- 9 Things Every Twentysomething Needs To Know About Money (buzzfeed.com)
- 12 Life Hacks Every Twentysomething Should Know (eyeoncelebs.com)
- Six Outfits Every Twentysomething Should Have In Their Closet (setoshino.wordpress.com)