10 Things I've Learned as a Young Professional


I began my career pretty young by comparison to most young people graduating with a Bachelor's degree. In three years, I had the certificate that allowed me to take the next steps in my life ...

I can still recall the time where I would draw pictures of myself living in New York wearing an "I 'Heart' NYC" t-shirt that no one in New York would actually wear. I was about eight-years-old or so.

I was dreaming of a luscious career since childhood, and my vision was focused on that throughout my teenage years and young adulthood. I had one end in sight, but things happened very differently.

After believing myself a failure after my lifelong dream of living and thriving in New York didn't end up the way I thought it would, I was shaken. I didn't know what to do, where to go, or if I should change careers.

Honestly, I was depressed and lacking confidence for most of the year I came back, but it wasn't all because of New York.

I've told very few people this, but while freelancing for a long time after coming home from New York after living there for two years, I considered returning to the university I graduated from a few years before that to become a Dietitian.

I was all over the place. I had no idea what I should do next.


I was pretty close to going back to school until suffering a panic attack that made me realize my truth: I love marketing. I always have. I love to write. I love to create, and I shouldn't feel bad or like I'm doing less for society because I'm not directly contributing to people's health or saving lives like a doctor.

I put huge expectations on myself as a child, teenager, and young adult. I'm not perfect. I still do that sometimes, but not nearly as harshly. I do it in a way that is balanced, active, and precedented.

I graduated college with my Bachelor's Degree in three academic years after pushing myself over the summer and winter, taking additional courses to keep my flow.

I worked multiple jobs that pushed me to the brink.

Most days the summer before my last year of college I was dead-tired (no exaggerations) by the end of the day. I worked 14, to 15 hour days, 8 of them at a warehouse as a shipment packer and 6 as a customer service rep at a grocery store. This was my Monday - Friday, and I worked Saturdays at the warehouse another 8 hours most weekends that season.

It's a wonder how I kept my blood sugar levels stable throughout that as a type 1 diabetic looking back, but somehow, I stayed upright. I lost a lot of weight during that time, because, during my down time I pushed myself to work on my core. I was running on so little energy, constantly tired, and certainly unhappy.

At one point, I thought I had a tremor in my right hand after waking up and going to bed with it shaking almost daily.

I graduated with honors my final year of college in 2015 and immediately moved to the East Coast thereafter where I went through many bosses, some good, some bad, all learning opportunities. I went through several jobs while on the East Coast after graduating, more than I expected or intended.

It was a rude awakening into the world of adulthood, one I thought I could handle, but on top of these experiences, I hadn't faced trouble from my childhood that lingered with me still.

I came to a point in my life where I knew I would never find myself or resolve my problems on the East coast, and with the end of my apartment lease coming up in 2017, I made a decision - to return home, work on myself, and be with the people I love during that time.

I don't regret any time I spent there, any dreams I had, or any thoughts that have changed since then.

I am a new Julia, and I am better for the experiences I've had, good and bad, the people I've met, good and bad, and the choices I made, good and bad.

Now that I've told you a bit about my story, I'll tell you more specifically about what I have learned so far at 24-years-old. I think you can benefit from these experiences, too, so here it goes:

1. You Don't Have to be Good at Everything to be an Asset to Your Company, Friends, Family or Romantic Partners

People who care about you will accept you for who you are. As long as you give it your best and most genuine effort, you are doing yourself, your company, your friends, family and romantic partners justice.

Above all that, you must put your own emotions, mental state, needs, and desires first. If you aren't embracing yourself, you won't go far in anything you do or any relationships you have in life.

Whatever situations apply, it's important you know and crucial you understand that you should take pride in focusing on being good at one or a few things. There's a reason we have our unique talents. It helps everything and everyone balance out. We can't all be good at everything. Accept that. You don't have to be. You might want to be, but you should let go of this idealism sooner rather than later. You set yourself up for disappointment and burnout believing otherwise.

I once had a boss that expected me to learn InDesign (something I did not list on my resume when applying) in a day to design an entire catalog. I did my best, but yikes, did I wish I knew how to do it already. I thought: I should be a designer. I should be everything this boss needs, but that's just the thing - you can't be everything.

This is why we invite more than one person into our lives or companies. I was doing the work of several departments during this experience, a ridiculous expectation that I felt guilty about during this time. I felt guilty I didn't know everything. I thought I was disappointing this boss, but, looking back I see the truth. Though they may not have felt it, they dissapointed me more than I did them by not treating me ethically as a human being and taking advantage of my drive, kindness, and patience, among other things.

We can't expect to be everything. We have to embrace the fact that despite not being everything, we are enough. We are good for the thing we are a part of or the person we're with. We can't let others let us think otherwise. We control our thoughts and feelings. We must decide our own worth. We can't let the games they play impact our psyche. The problems they put on us are the problems they can't face inside themselves.



2. You Don't Have to be Friends with Your Co-workers

If you want to be, great. If you don't want to be, that's great, too. It's up to you! As long as you can be respectful, tolerant and patient with each other during the workday, that's all you need to do. Some people like to keep things separate. You don't need to explain that to them. If that's what's comfortable for you, they need to accept that. Don't feel obligated. It doesn't make you cold to want to keep your personal life strictly personal. Most people will understand. Be careful when you do befriend your co-workers. Know your limits. Identify your balance. Do what's best for you.

Sometimes you make the best friends of your life in co-workers. I know I have! But, sometimes they are just co-workers, and that's okay too. It does not make them less valuable. It just means they play a different role for you, and you for them.

3. You Don't Have to Entertain Crappy People 

If you're in a bad emotional or mentally abusive situation, whether with your boss, a friend, family member, or romantic partner, you don't have to stick around. It may seem like there's no way out, but if you aren't being treated respectfully, there are always ways. You will create them. There is always a way out of a bad situation or away from a bad person. You don't deserve bad treatment if you have a bad past or a good past. You deserve to be treated with the respect, kindness, patience, and dignity you show others. Most of all, you deserve help, kindness and thoughtful consideration from yourself. Act smart, and be proactive when it comes to your self-care. No one has a say in it but you. Remember that.

4. A Bad Job Fit Doesn't Mean You're a Bad Employee

So you took a chance and it didn't work out! Don't take it personally. Value this past time as a learning opportunity and to further define yourself and who you want to be. No one is made for everything. We all have our unique passions, skills, and dreams. Celebrate those. Embrace them. Act on them. Be honest with yourself and your ambition.

SIDE NOTE: Remember, you can take breaks from self-development during your professional and personal journeys. It's okay to take breaks. It doesn't make you lazy. It makes you human. 

5. It's Okay to Switch Jobs "Fast"

You have probably heard the standard "stay at least two years at your first company," and that's fantastic if you're in a good job where you are treated decently to be able to do that. However, if you feel you need to leave earlier, it's okay. Be kind to yourself as you continue your journey. Not everyone can follow this "standard." Life is full of standards and expectations set forth by society, but the only ones you need to pay attention to, be mindful of and act on are those you set for yourself.

Do not be entitled. Give everything a chance, of course, but you will know when it's time to move on. Give it your best. Do your best. Know your place. Earn your place.

If you aren't finding satisfaction, are being mistreated or just aren't passionate or into it, it's okay to decide to leave. As long as you are dedicated to your journey, you will know when the right time to move forward is.

6. Caring About What Others Think Will Always Hold You Back

Listen to your mind, heart and soul, and only yours. It's great to care about others and be mindful of their feelings, but when it comes to living an honest life, you only need to worry about the way you feel about yourself. It means the world.

Perspective is everything in life. You can create a wonderful life for yourself when you use an ounce of positivity every day.

You'll be surprised at what a long way it goes ...

7. Find an Appropriate Balance Between Your Professional and Personal Life

Being dedicated to your career is great, but you need people, too, even if you think you don't. In fact, that's probably when you need people most. I am an introverted person, but I need people, too, maybe less than others, but I need them, and let me clarify that when I say "need" I mean everyone needs company now and then.

Let me put it into perspective for you.

I once worked a job that had me dedicating almost ten hours to it per day, sometimes more, with two hours to myself, if I was lucky, and was receiving constant calls and work responsibilities on the weekend that I was too naive to say no to. In "the city that never sleeps," I didn't, and I was miserable, despite the fantastic access to major happenings in fashion and entertainment. I made the most of it, don't get me wrong, but it wasn't a great balance at all.

Life isn't all about work. Work is certainly important and it's important to like what you do, so long as you know it's not all you do. It's not all of who you are. Who you are is much more elaborate. Work is one part.

Having great work-to-life balance is so invaluable. Learn this earlier rather than later.


8. Embrace Your Individuality, Accept it Wholly

While others your age may be settling down, getting married and moving near their parents, you, like me, may have chosen something "unconventional." Embrace your choices. Choose your choices fully. Despite what other voices say, be confident about the path you walk. It's yours for a reason. It's not theirs. What do they care, and what you do you care? You don't need to explain it to anyone else. You need to do what's right for you, period.

As I said above, it's important you're mindful of your loved ones' feelings, but when it comes to your life, you have to live it for you. People who love you will accept that, too. So long as you accept yourself and embrace your choices, you will live an honest and fulfilled life. Be accepting and respectful of others in return, despite differences. Celebrate your differences. Never let a difference in ambition or choices tear you apart. Keep yourselves binded by the truest commonality: love.

Finally, be unafraid. We all die, but don't live so safely so that you never really live. It is good to respect human life and acknowledge the fragility of it, but you have to live your life to the fullest. Do not live in fear. Do what you want. Chase your goals fiercely. You can accomplish what you set your mind to so long as you believe in yourself.

9. Refocus Your Childhood Ambition and Energy Onto Your Adulthood

Yes, we age. Those of us who do should be grateful to live long lives, but, often, you meet people who feel sour about the process of aging. I believe that's more of a reflection of society an how society makes us feel about our bodies as we age. (What garbage!)

Don't lose the spirit that keeps you young. Yes, youth is a physical trait, but it's also a mental one. Freshen your spirit. Wake up. Don't live your life like a zombie. It's too damn short already. Don't make it miserable. Make it happy. Make you happy. Live happy with those whom you love.

10. Don't Feel Guilty Making Choices for You

At the end of the day, you have yourself to rely on alone. You may have people you can trust in your life, but at the end of the day, the person you have to rely on for everything is you. Stand on your own two feet.

As for me, I learned to stand on my own two feet very early in life with being responsible for my type 1 diabetes care. I learned independence. I learned self-care. I taught myself these things at 10-years-old.

Not everyone goes through experiences as changing as type 1 diabetes, I know, but if you want to make a change, you must know it's in you. You are capable of being the you, you want to be, no ifs, ands, or buts.

Give yourself no excuses. Make choices for you. It's not selfish. Compromise where you need to. Make wiggle room for your goals and dreams. Embrace the changes your goals and dreams undergo as you age. Never be afraid to chase new goals or dreams.

The only thing you have to fear is a life unlived. 


If you've made it to the bottom of this post, good for you, and thanks for reading. I hope you learned something new or are more inspired to let yourself fail and pick yourself up again.

The truth is, I didn't fail because New York didn't work the way I thought it would. My expectation failed, but that's why we have to open ourselves up to change. The failure I had was shaming myself for a change I had to a lifelong dream.

Change is the only constant in life. Life is always bound to change and we never know when it will. We can't anticipate it. We can't control it. We can only fill in the gaps along the way.

I did something fantastic for myself. I didn't fail. I did it. I met celebrities. I walked in Central Park. I touched the same steps Audrey Hepburn once walked on. I saw a New York fashion show. I made personal and professional strides I envisioned, despite the turmoil.

I had amazing jobs in fashion, entertainment and beauty. I traveled the United States. I made friends that will last a lifetime. I fell in love with New York. I wasn't scared. I was excited. I was enlivened by the possibilities. I still am, only in new ways ... Who knows what's next?

At the end of it all, I was more scared to face myself, but I did that, too, and wow - am I glad I did. I am so grateful to be near my family. I have parents I can be honest with, a sister who is one of my closest friends, and a comfort and confidence in myself that has been absolutely restored and enhanced.

I learned about myself, solved some issues, and am in the most positive place I've been in for a long time.

I also became a cat mom during this time, and it has been one of the best choices I ever made. I was never an animal-lover or "pet person," but, man, do I love my pet.

I also love my job. I am genuinely happy, and I am living each day to the fullest.

My goals for the summer are to do more yoga, go on my treadmill every day, and travel. I have a trip planned to Greece later this year, and I couldn't be more excited to be traveling abroad for the first time.

My goals for my life are pretty simple now that I'm older: to see the world, have a job I love, have a boss that treats me with respect and trust, be compensated fairly for my work, and do something that positively impacts the world.

I also want to write a book, if you can't tell.

When it comes down to it, I'm genuinely me and whether my goals work out or not, I will be self-satisfied knowing I lived my best life, was dedicated to them and me, and that I lived fully and found love in myself and others in the moments I created.

As a young professional, I imagine I have a lot to learn. Scratch that - I know I do.

At every age, there are opportunities to grow and learn. Always. This is what I've done so far, what I've learned and how I anticpate my own personal growth.

For you, I hope you live happily and genuinely. I hope you've learned something new and I hope you love yourself enough to live your best life. 

Cheers, Julia Rose.

Thank you to all of the wonderful people in my life. I hope you know who you are and how much I love you and am grateful for you. I am grateful for your respect, acceptance and positive spirits. I hope I have provided similar happiness and inspiration to you. Sending well wishes. Xx.

Comments

  1. I love the advice you give especially about the work place.

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    1. Thank you, Jerri. Glad you enjoyed it!

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  2. This was seriously such a great and thorough read! I love how resilient your spirit seems to be. Thank you for sharing your story. Also, I agree with the societal standards for aging to be complete garbage. Aging is a blessing and an honor... Although I do feel weird about it, just because I still don't feel like an adult! But I do wish I had the energy and spirit I had as a child...

    https://gallantlygal.com

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    1. Thank you for such a sincere and heartfelt comment. I am so glad you could benefit from the post. Thanks for reading. Xx.

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  3. Absolutely adore this. I'm 20 and only a year and half away from graduating, aka I'm a soon to be young professional. I also aspire to move to NYC but I'm realizing that it's definitely not easy. This was such a great read for me and I learned so much. Thank you!!

    xx
    annabelle | www.mixed-hues.com

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    Replies
    1. Congratulations, Annabelle! This is an exciting time full of opportunity and growth. Whatever you do, listen to your gut. You will regret 100% of the chances you don't take. Xx.

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