As a 30-something, it's now easier to reach back and reflect on all of the things that I would have taken more seriously, acted on more intently, or just ditched altogether in my past. However, this isn't a pity party or expression of regret by any means, but rather an eye-opener of sorts. That older/wiser thing is surely kicking in (life comes at you fast) and I'm happy to share the life lessons I've learned so far

Dear 20-somethings:

  1. Don't underestimate your abilities You don't have to dim your light to appease others. In masking your gifts to fit in, you are doing yourself a huge disservice, not to mention, missing out on valuable opportunities to stand out. As the poem, "Our Deepest Fear" by Marianne Williamson so boldly states, "Your playing small does not serve the world." You are extraordinary, so let your light shine.
  2. Do not sit on your talents; they are meant to be shared with the world Do you know how many great businesses began on the grounds of natural talent(s) alone, and not necessarily formal experience? Ever hear, "I used to be really good at XYZ, but I quit...," followed by no further explanation? If you don't work to develop something over a long period of time (i.e., singing, playing an instrument, dancing, writing, crunching numbers, etc.), you naturally become a bit rusty. Some are able to bounce right back into it almost immediately and others, not so much. Natural talents are undeniable. When you've got it, you've got it. The real question is how will you use it?
  3. Not everyone is cut out for the entrepreneurial life, but you very well might beThe fact is that you'll never know if you don't explore the option. You will find that having multiple streams of income is the way to go. These same income streams could set you right into the position of being your own boss or staying afloat financially should a layoff at your regular 9-5 occur. What are you great at (see #2)? You are not too young to start your own business and, in fact, now is as good a time as any to try and fail... and try and fail again (rinse and repeat until you succeed). Never forget that Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook, along with college roommates, in 2004. This is a prime example that sometimes all you need is a well-thought-out idea and plan to get the ball rolling. However, pack your patience — entrepreneurship is a long, bumpy ride!
  4. Stop with the comparisons More clearly, don't tie anyone's failures to your potential for success. Different game, different elements and different players. Get it? Got it? Good.
  5. Ditch the "milestones" I totally understand that you want to hurry up and finish school, move out from your parents' house, find a job making decent money, maybe get married and have some children. "Adult-ing" is hard. And it becomes even more complicated once you enter the workforce, the bill-paying world, marriage and parenthood. Those are all factors that will immediately alter your life. Although it's nice to want all those things (and more), don't be held hostage in your mind to a magic age for marriage, children or even "finding yourself." I promise that you will be highly disappointed. Your life will happen on it's own timeline. It's a continual discovery process and I will be the first to admit that I am still "finding myself" in my 30s.
  6. Don't chalk everything up to "being young" and "having fun." Your life is serious business The 20s define you more than you realize. Sure, you're still young and having fun (by all means, travel as much as possible). However, make your future a top priority and do your best to make the best decisions along the way. There will be a lot of trials and errors but that's a part of life. Don't let your youth slip away without seizing every opportunity for growth that comes your way. Play hard and work even harder.
  7. You can't take everyone with you One day, you'll look around and see just how drastically your circles have changed. The harsh truth is that you will outgrow friendships and end some relationships, but that's okay! The bigger lesson is that you surround yourselves with people who are going to push you to the next level and add positivity to your life. Never allow individuals or circumstances to keep you stuck. And that includes yourself — get out of your own way!