The responses are in, and while I received fewer this year than last, the overall trend seems to indicate that things are looking on the up and up.
Here’s what your fellow peers had to say:
This morning I read a quote by Plato, “What do they know of England, who only England know?” That sums up a lot of my takeaways from this year.
I moved to El Salvador and learned a lot about America. I learned that 24/7 access to potable water is a miracle. So is not being at risk for tropical illnesses or parasites and being able to walk on the streets safely and more. I never would have been able to gain this perspective in America. Before, I scrutinized America too much. Now I have learned that, although America still has room for improvement, we do the basics for human happiness very, very, very well. — JAB, age 22, Peace Corps volunteer, Metapan, El Salvador
I figured out that the most lucrative place for a person with a degree in English is in marketing. Everyone asks in interviews why you’re leaving journalism, why you’re not writing books full time. To answer, I open my purse and release four elegant white moths. Nothing else in there. Writing is life, but it isn’t survival.
A marketing job like mine (running platforms, writing blog posts) makes it into both. It’s money to survive and support my writing, which I need in order to live. It affords me diverse and enriching experiences every and day, and writing is always informed by that. And all writing practice counts; even the stuff you do for a brand or a corporation. All of it makes you work, sharpens you toward purpose and turns you toward audience. I’ve fallen into a good thing.
So my biggest takeaway this year is a day job, for which I am grateful and of which I am proud, every damned day. — Meg Elison, age 1000, social media marketing, Oakland
(1) Sometimes if nothing is working out, hitting reset and cutting out the things that are making and keeping you unhappy is the best option. It’s hard when suddenly you feel adrift, but it also makes it easier to come up with a new plan or to even just go with it for a while.
(2) Detox — and by that I mean give up the drugs and alcohol for a bit and take care of yourself, you’ll feel better and the mental clarity that comes with it feels really good.
(3) Now that being said, don’t be the downer that turns down Friday night drinks with a friend, and who knows you could make new friends or meet someone special. Enjoy yourself sometimes and don’t think about what has to be done on Monday.
(4) Work hard at your career, but don’t let it be the only thing in your life. Also, don’t try to make your job the only thing that makes you happy — diversifying will make your life fuller.
— SB, age 23, analyst, San Francisco
Less friends means better relationships. College was not the peak, and the best is yet to come! But looking at Facebook is more depressing now because it feels like so many people are further along their paths to success. — Anonymous, age 23, quality technician, Irvine
In one sentence: Be humble, be confident, be patient, & be active (& never stop vacationing).
Here is some cheesy rambling:
To everyone who is on Year 1 of Post-Grad life, don’t worry, Year 2 is SO MUCH BETTER. But don’t think all your problems are solved. The last year has been amazing, and grounding, but stability is still just as terrifying. I’ve learned to never say no to a trip and to max out weekends in the 9 to 5 life. Time for oneself is vital and it is still important at this point to put yourself first. At the same time, it’s other people in this time that often can help shape your life, so be compassionate but also don’t put up with bullshit (ain’t no time for that).
Other lessons I’ve learned:
-Health is wealth
-Time is (also) money: biking 15 minutes to work vs driving 45 minutes is 110% worth a pay cut
-Money (coughNotHavingIt) sucks
-Online shopping: more convenient, more dangerous
-Beer is still so delicious
-Always jump in (to a clean & safe body of water)
-Some people never grow up — but it’s not your job to make them
-The learning is never over
-Relationships are hard
-Nature is addictive
-Empathy is important but don’t let it take over your life
-Never be afraid to network
-Investing and health insurance are boring to read about, but good to start on early (I sound like a dad)
-And most importantly, your twenties are about everyone thinking that everyone else’s life is more awesome than yours (and that they’ve got it figured out), when the reality is that we all feel the pretty much the same.
— FH, age 24, marketing/publicity, Oakland
Gotta just roll with shit. — Elice Leung, age 23, forest botanical technician, Nevada City
Life takes you to such unexpected places. Last year, when I wrote in for this, I remember being so miserable and finding the whole experience of being a twenty-something so traumatic. I don’t think it’s gotten much easier, but I feel like I’ve settled into myself more and accepted the changes and curveballs life decided to throw at me. I moved to a different country (even if that country is home) and started down a new career path and I’m still feeling my way around everything … but it’s easier than it was a year ago. Here’s to hoping it gets easier from here on out. I guess I’ve learned that people will do their own thing and really, all anyone expects of you is that you do the same. Bad shit happens, good shit happens — you just have to roll with the punches. So basically, my life has become one giant motivational quote cliche, and I am 100% OK with that.
— ST, age 23, in between jobs, Hong Kong