In January I left my twenties behind. As I reflect on the past decade I would like to share five things I learned during that time.
1.Getting married young isn’t bad for everyone.
I say this with trepidation because many people who are young are unwise and passionate which can cloud judgement. When I met my wife, we both knew we were meant to be. We couldn’t explain it to other people, we knew. We got married young, I was 20 and she was 21, and we have a wonderful marriage. However, when we reflect back on the first year especially it was difficult. I was immature and jealous, she was uncertain of herself and ultimately, we were both still growing. We worked through many things and became stronger. That isn’t to say our marriage was ever rocky or in jeopardy, but as with all people we had our own issues to overcome. I wouldn’t recommend getting married at a young age for everyone, statistically there are more chances of relationships falling apart in a person’s twenties. However, it can and will work if you make the choice to love one another daily. Love is an action not just a fuzzy feeling inside.
2.College should be entered with more thought and wisdom.
What schools and society will tell high school students is if they want a job that will produce a livable wage they need to go to college. A four-year degree is typically what’s encouraged, no trade schools or learning skills before entering college. I was told my senior year that we shouldn’t take a break between high school and college because the odds of us going back to school is reduced significantly. Many kids at that age don’t know what they are going to be, and that’s fine and normal. The harsh reality is that many jobs will not hire just because you have a four-year degree. You need experience too, in fact in many jobs experience is more important. My wife is successful as a manager and her degree had no bearing on her getting hired. This is true of any of her jobs leading up to her current position. I have a degree as well and found it to be incredibly difficult to find a job with it, especially since I have been a stay-at-home father for years. Therefore, I followed my passion and went the entrepreneurial route. Despite this we still went to college and still have crushing debt as a result. I will most likely be paying for my loans for many more years to come if not indefinitely. I intellectually knew when I was 18 that I would have to pay back the loans, but I didn’t emotionally process what that reality looked like until they came due. There is nothing wrong with college, but take it from someone who has been there, going to college just for the sake of it may do more harm than good financially. I feel strongly that people should either have a clear goal of where they want to be (a doctor for example) or gain real-world work experience before going to college.
3. My generation was mistakenly discouraged from factory work.
Have you heard older generations or characters on TV say, “oh you don’t want to work in a factory or flip burgers the rest of your life!” The truth is many people who go to college will end up doing just that anyway once they graduate, or work retail. When I graduated that was the case of many of my peers, or they took low-level security jobs that paid the same as working at Target. Factory work isn’t all the same, some of it isn’t great, but not all. My wife works in a factory and as I mentioned above, she found great success. I am very proud of the career she has accomplished. I encourage people in their twenties to think outside the box when it comes to employment and also accept that factory, restaurant, and retail jobs are not bad places to start or even make a long-term career out of depending on the opportunities. Which leads me to my final point…
4. You cannot expect to start anywhere but the bottom.
I have spent the last four years building my writing business. That included many mistakes and a relaunch of my blog in October. Those recently out of college sometimes have the idea that since they obtained a degree, they will be hired in at least mid-level positions. This is very seldomly true though. Like I already mentioned, experience is key. Gaining experience almost always means starting at the bottom, even if you are creating your own business. You won’t have thousands of customers right off the bad or thousands of followers on your blog. That’s okay though! That is normal and it’s all a part of the growing experience. Embrace your dreams! Go after them. I am. However, you need to know that it will be hard and you may have to do things that take you in a completely different direction. That means starting at the bottom. Do you have a business management degree? Well you might have to work as a stock person at Wal-Mart for a year and apply for a low-level manager position when the opportunity arises and you’ve proven to show ambition and aptitude for the job.