One of my favorite things to listen to when I was high school was “Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen).” Not only did I find the voice of Lee Perry extremely soothing, and not only did it sample music from Romeo + Juliet, which I thought was the pinnacle of artistic cinema, BUT even at that young age I found myself nodding and going, “Yeah, man, you get it.”
I listened to it before I sat down to write this post. I realized that even though I liked to think at that age that I was an “old soul” who had life, love, and the world figured out…I understood the lines of that song about as much as I understood things like feminism and Ethiopian food. In an extremely distant, contextual way. Which is to say…not at all.
Why is it that right around that age – and for the next ten years – there is a chronic, infectious case of control freakatitis? Even if you were a perfectly chill teenager (haha, yeah, okay, I know) it’s like as soon as you get out on your own, you immediately hit this second, major puberty. Only this time, instead of facial hair and boobs, you get persistent anxiety and crippling inferiority!
So, in the style of Baz Luhrmann’s EF(TWS), I am going to give you my advice in 5 minutes. Everything I can write, the timer is on, I shall dispense that advice…now.
Bad jobs build character. When you get out of college, there is a good chance you may have to take a job that is not your dream (but never stop trying), that is not what you envisioned in yesteryear, and you will deal with it for a while. Maybe it will get better. Maybe not. But you’ll have the story. The experience.
Know your rights. Never let anybody tell you that you have to give more than your best. Don’t allow people – employers, friends, lovers – decide your schedule. You are your own time wizard.
Take care of your body. Floss. Take advantage of your health insurance, vision, whatever you have. Spend every penny of it. Make it count.
Never stop. Even in the face of failure and defeat and even when it feels like you are talking into an empty room, eventually people will find you. It takes years to build a fanbase/platform/forum/voice – your own personal voice – and if you just stop talking because you think nobody is listening, you’re just going to flatline.
Somewhere between sleepless nights and restful days is nirvana.
Reclaim every second of your free time. At the end of the day, when you leave that office, leave all the mess of the last 9 hours there. Envision it as a torch, and when you clock out, that torch goes in a bucket of water. It’s gone. Don’t let any of those bastards eat into your life when you’re not getting paid for it.
Get hobbies. Try everything at least once. Twice if it’s fun.
Make friends. In the office, on the street, on the way to work. Get used to talking to people. Leave your phone at home, and if you have it, call someone. Make that connection, even if it’s really really hard and not fun.
There you go. In closing, your twenties are going to be really confusing. They won’t always be as fun as they should be, and only half as much as they deserve, because it’s going to feel like you don’t have things figured out the way you thought you would. That is okay. You are okay. Relax. Meditate. Give yourself 60 seconds to get really worked up and then go read a book. Take a walk. Pet a puppy.
But trust me on the hobbies.
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