Thursday, August 12, 2010

10 things I wish someone told me 10 years ago. (Or at least a substanially long while ago)

A big chunk of this post/the thoughts I got from elsewhere. I just sat and pondered it and wrote about it. It's amazing what kinds of ideas you can bounce off of other people.

#10 - For the most part, what others think doesn’t matter.

In high school, I was a kid who let the opinions of other people largely influence my choices. I always told myself that my choices were my choices, but a lot of them weren't. It was a dumb way to live, considering that now, those people whose opinions I held in such high regard aren’t even a part of my life anymore!
The times when someone else’s opinion of you truly matters are few and far between. Think first impressions, like meeting your significant other’s family, or meeting someone for a job interview.
Don’t let other people rent space in your head. What they think of you isn’t important. What matters most is how you feel about yourself.

#9 - Explore new hobbies and opportunities often.

The only thing I was ever really good at and stayed good at was holding true to my beliefs. That's one of the only things I never EVER cared about anyone thinking of me about. However, there's other things in life that I wanted to try that I always felt like a fool for even considering.
When I cared about what other people might think about me, I never tried new things. I was afraid that if I sucked at something, I’d be embarrassed. To spare myself the embarrassment of being bad at something new, I would never explore opportunities to learn something new, or start a new hobby.
Now I see that I missed out on so much. I never tried out for school sports, the plays or musicals...I was just too scared to put myself out there and express myself.
Nowadays I’m always anxious to put myself out there and learn something new. I sing at karaoke, I do some stupid quirky things, and I play Euchre even though I suck at it. I try to go for new things as they come up, whether it’s a new restaurant, a new drink, or a new pastime. When you try new things, you discover more and more things that you enjoy.
I mean, I never knew I LOVED stir fry until a few months ago. And SUSHI. OH GOD SUSHI.
Currently, I have plans to master the piano, the pool table, the SCUBA, and the pen in my lifetime. They’re things that I know I'll love. Still, if you were to introduce me to a unicycle today, I’d hop right on to try and take it for a spin, fall off, and then hop on again! ....okay maybe not entirely, but still.

As Harold and Maude put it best, “Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can’t let the world judge you too much.”

#8 - Nobody knows what you’re thinking unless you tell them.

People can’t read your mind. This goes for your significant other, your boss, and that hottie you’re too scared to talk to.
Two years ago I was dating someone I no longer wanted to date. I knew that I was unhappy in the relationship, but he didn’t. Consequently, I waited and waited for things to improve, but they never did. I want to scream at myself now: Well no shit things didn’t improve. You never told her anything was wrong!
Relationships can’t improve unless you communicate. I think this applies to work also - if you want a raise and you think you deserve it, I doubt you'll get it unless you ask for it.
Simply put, nobody knows what you want. Don’t wait for someone to come to you, because your blood will boil over.
As for that hottie, if you don’t say anything before he/she walks out that door, then that person is going to walk out of your life forever having never known you. Don’t let it happen. Learn to communicate so people can know you.

#7 - Talk to everyone.

Professors. Classmates. Roommates. Neighbors. Frats. Sororities. Clubs. Students outside of your major. Students outside of your social clique. Returning students that are older than you. Teaching assistants. Resident assistants. Adjuncts. Tutors. Career advisors. Deans. Librarians. Friends. People from your youth group. Pastors. Your congregation. The kids that you play games with.
Why? Networking. When employers look for a good match for a job opening, the first thing they do is ask the people they’re already working with if they know someone who would do well in the position. They tend to look through resumes as a last resort. I know for a fact that the places I work won't hire ANYONE unless they can get a reference from someone who works there. Half the time if I don't know you, I'll tell you that we don't have any job openings or the applications are missing.
Also, live it up, because life is fucking awesome.

#6 - Leave every job on good terms.

No matter how good it might feel to tell your boss to suck it right before storming out of a dead-end job forever, it is never worth it. You will probably need another job someday, and you might just need some good references to get it.
Giving up all opportunities for future recommendations for one fleeting moment to tell your employer what you really think about them is a bad trade. Give two weeks notice, and say thanks for the opportunity to work with them — even if it’s bullshit.

#5 - Pay your dues.

Even though you may have been hot shit in school, or at your last job, it will not grant you the slightest amount of entitlement in a new position for a new employer. In many companies, you’re basically getting in line to wait your turn to move up the ladder, and it may take years to advance beyond positions of indentured servitude.
So take a look around. If you’re absolutely certain you’re on the right career path, then stick to it. Pay your dues. Climb ladders. It will be your turn soon enough.
Besides, persistence shows everyone around you that you're dedicated and you WANT to be there.

#4 - "Invest" in yourself.

When you invest in yourself you can never lose. This applies to everything:
Learn to cook. You’ll save a bajillion dollars on food in your lifetime.
Learn a foreign language. You’ll expand your horizons and be easily employable. I thought spanish was useless, but wow...nope. Totally worth every second of those torturous classes.
Learn to spend less than you earn. You’ll never be broke.

#3 - You can’t change anything by just sitting back and looking at it.

Change requires two things: a conscious decision to accomplish something, and follow-through. If you want something accomplished, then do it now. If it can’t be done now, then do it today. If it can’t be done today, then start it today.
Change is tough, but the most difficult step is getting started. Of course once you’ve actually started, the most difficult step is following through. Change is tricky like that — but know that if you truly want it, you’ll find a way to create change in your life.
I had to learn that all the hard way. And I'm happy that I did, now that I think about it.

#2 - Expect people to be negative, especially if you’re carving your own path.

In all walks of life, you won’t see eye-to-eye with everyone. Hell, look at everyone I used to hang out with.
People will come out of your structured life to tell you that you’ll fail, tell you that you suck, laugh at you, argue with you, call you names, write you messages laced with profanity, and be altogether unpleasant.
As Tony Gazzo from Rocky put it, “Some guys, they just hate for no reason.”
The thing is, although it’s common to receive negativity from strangers, you’ll find that even the people you know and love can surprise you with negative attitudes. No matter who it is that’s trying to boo you off the stage, don’t let them succeed in doing so.

#1 - Do what you are.

We’ve all heard that ”If you love what you do, you will never work another day in your life.” The problem is that few people seem to actually have this luxury.
It seems that somewhere along the line the thought changed to “If you do what you need to do, when you need to do it, then maybe someday you can do what you want to do, when you want to do it.” You end up spending the majority of your life waiting for that someday to arrive.
It’s mostly unavoidable though, since we spend most of our growing years hearing things like:
Once you finally make it to retirement, then you can finally do what you want. It seems so backwards, doesn’t it?
When I’m not distracting myself from how repetitive my job is, I always think about how I’m slowly trading away the sunny days of my youth for “job security.” I show up, work, get paid.
Congratulations, I’ve traded away some time for some money.
I'm glad I've had time to sit and think about all of this.
It makes me feel like not having a major, hell, not even knowing what I want to do for the REST OF MY LIFE isn't so bad. I can actually work my way to it.
I think that as long as you do what you are and are true to yourself, you can find success through following your passions and interests.
This way, I'm not going to wake up in ten years in a career I hate thinking "WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED?"

If you read all this, thanks.

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