F or those of you who have recently entered your 30’s, you’ve likely spent at least one day laughing, crying or air-punching while assessing the path life has taken—especially if it’s radically different than your expectations as a bright-eyed college grad.
Although, for most of us, life likely hasn’t gone 100% according to plan, but it’s still a beautiful journey. Yet, there are times when I wished I was just a tad more equipped a decade ago to navigate the at times rough terrain. At the core, there are only a few universal truths that really caught me with an uppercut.
Here are three gems I’d tell my 21-year old self to help with the bumps and swerves of life as a grown ass man.
Don’t let student loans f-ck up your real money—run.
As a broke college student any cash seems like a good idea, so it’s enticing to take out extra money and collect that overage refund check—wrong move, playa. If you need the dollars for books or living expenses, and you’ve exhausted all avenues (side hustles, extra roommates and sharing books), then by all means do what you have to do. But don’t accept those extra stacks just to ball out on unnecessary things during the semester, like baecations, spring breaks and hot kicks. Remember, refund checks are borrowed money— that means they have to be paid back, with interest, bruh. At 21, you think you’ll be balling at 29. And you may be, but guess what? Your expenses will be upgraded, too. You’ll be paying for a car, a crib, investments, real dates and taxes—the latter is a killer. Most importantly it’s all on you. Adding a monthly debt of $200-$800 for 10-20 years is a noose you don’t need. Live modestly now because it’s much easier to ball out when there’s nothing sucking the air out of you.
Do move back in with the fam.
The truth is, the part of the American Dream where you work hard in college to land an amazing paying job that starts the week after graduation no longer happens as often as you might think. You’re probably putting more pressure on yourself than anyone else around you. Moving back home is an opportunity to ensure you embark on a career that you’ll enjoy for at least the next 10 years rather than jumping on the first opportunity that offers you benefits. Also, use this time at home to stack your coins because once you move out, you’re pretty much on your own from there on out. And that’s when real, real life starts.
Don’t be embarrassed when you lose…it happens.
You picked a competitive major, enrolled in all of the right extracurricular activities and were a star on your campus. Unfortunately, no one relayed that message to your potential bosses. Here’s what your professors and academic advisors can’t prep you for: the workplace is evolving at a faster pace than any syllabus. Even more, who you know often matters more than what you’ve learned. Nowadays, career growth requires more strategy than a pro chess game. And, even if you do everything right, sometimes you’ll need to take a step back to move closer towards your ultimate goal—don’t let your ego stop you.