It’s only 1 sentence. 7 tiny words. But, this sentence might as well as be the prompt for each and everyone’s personal manifesto.
We so often think of our 20s as this chaotic decade. It’s the first decade where we are totally adults trying to figure out all the real world entails. This includes how to find a job, dealing with your first bosses, finding apartments, staying in touch with friends, making new friends, dating, relationships and maybe even marriage and kids of your own.
I recently listened to one of the best talks from Michael Hyatt. He talked about how this simple question can bring some much needed clarity, purpose and control into one’s life.
It’s the difference between leading a driven, drifting or designed life.
A driven life is essentially when we get trapped in the endless busy cycle. It’s almost like we become robotic moving from one task to the next. Simply living life on autopilot mode.
As the drifting life is more the scenic route where we just jump for one thing to the next without really thinking ahead. To illustrate this point, it’s as Ted Talk speaker Meg Jay said the people, who spend their entire 20s experimenting with no end goal in sight. They use their 20s as an excuse to delay adulthood.
(Sidenote: If you haven’t seen Meg’s talk, I highly recommend it. Watch it here. )
As Michael pointed out, both the driven and drifting life can lead us to outcomes that we may not have chosen for ourselves had we been conscious of the path we were on.
Instead, he argues (and I would agree) it’s about living a designed life. It’s one guided largely by the question I asked at the beginning of this post.
How do I want to be remembered?
It’s less about your legacy – at least initially- and more about living intentionally. Working daily with a purpose and drive.
This is some really heavy food for thought. It can be broken down into two sub-questions.
What is important to me?
What single brave decision do you need to make today?
Each person’s priorities will be different. Every one else will have their own agenda and priorities and will act on that. It’s up to you to make sure you don’t wind up compromising yours to live someone else’s .
For most of us, we came of age in the era of Facebook. We created our profiles in high school and college. With a single mouse click, we could stay in touch with all of our “friends.” No more having to pick up the phone and call or text someone. It could all be done by leaving a very passive message.
Facebook taps into our human need for CONNECTION. And, it amplifies and quantifies it to a level never seen before. Connection is what gives our lives purpose and makes us want to get up and live another day.
The problem arises when the thing- in this case Facebook- that helps us grow more connected to each other is also robbing us of those same connections. It is contributing to a growing sense of angst, lack of purpose and disconnection.
We live in a world now where our lives are on full display and in critique of our 500+ Facebook friends. Every status update, photo, and video is seen through our friends’ eyes.
While that can create deeper connections, it also can create a need to script our lives, by only showing the best of the best moments. We feel like our ordinary moments- which let’s face it are most things- are too mundane. So, instead we only post the best of the best.
Think about it.
We spend months- if not years- planning our dream Facebook wedding(s). Sometimes even getting started before you even land a man. Come on ladies, we all have that single friend- or friends- who have wedding Pinterest boards.
We spend an hour plus in front of the mirror getting ready in the morning or before a big event.
We disregard 10+ selfies, before finally choosing the one to post on Facebook and Instagram.
All in a way to showcase our most perfect version of our self. In reality, all this ends up doing is creating more and more shame for ourselves and the ones around us. Something I personally know a thing or two about.
According to TED Speaker, Brene Brown, shame is really “the fear of disconnection.” It’s the feeling of not being good enough. Of not being worthy of feeling connected.
She argues the only way we can get past this is by allowing ourselves to be seen in our most vulnerable state.
It’s about living intentionally and letting go of our need for CONTROL in exchange for raw, extreme vulnerability.
Believe me, I know this is much easier to say than do. It’s hard to relinquish the desires to want to control and predict everything we put out there and instead live intentionally by sharing the good, the bad and the very, very emotionally raw.
How are you planning to live more intentionally? Please share below in the comments or by emailing me directly at email@example.com?
A couple of weeks ago I watched my baby brother walk down the aisle at his high school graduation. While I’m not sure how mature I am (seriously are we ever really grown ups?) watching the speeches at my brother’s graduation gave me a new perspective.
While I know many of the challenges they are going to face in college and beyond (as I’m encountering many of them myself), there’s something awe-inspiring about their can-do attitudes and youthful optimism. And also a bit depressing when some of these kids have already done more than I will ever do. Seriously, one of my brother’s friends already runs a successful nonprofit at 18. At 18, I barely knew how to turn on the oven. Sadly.
Anywhoo. As I get older and more engrained in the real world work culture, I see more and more friends and colleagues giving up on their dreams. Be it for a significant other, their kids, or just because they think they are too old. That’s nothing short of disheartening.
We need to channel and preserve our imagination, scrappiness and can-do attitude that we had in high school and college.
Some may disagree. Others may call it naive. But I feel this is what will separate the dreamers from the doers.
Anyone can dream big. But unless you act on it and take a few risks, dreams mean nothing. You will be just another grown up, who has settled for a comfortable life where you are simply going through the motions on autopilot.
Once you get on autopilot mode, your blinders get larger and your willingness to take risks gets smaller. You get used to being comfortable. Then months turn to years, years to decades. Suddenly you are middle aged with kids who need to go to college, a mortgage, debt and some new health conditions. You realize that all your dreams and ambitions have gone by the wayside. It’s going to be much harder to achieve them -if not nearly impossible- as you get older.
I’m not sure about you but this absolutely terrifies me. I don’t want to settle for just an okay life because it’s safe and comfortable.
It’s seeing kids that in all due respect are only seven and eight years younger than me that have reminded me about that.
The only thing scarier than following your big, scary dreams from high school and college is choosing to abandon them for the safe and comfortable route. As my favorite high school science teacher and mentor would say, life is meant to be lived outside of your comfort zone.
What’s your big scary dream? And how are you going to pursue it? Please share in the comments below or email me directly.
I got a lot more answers than I expected to. Being my typical, analytical self, I decided to spend some time grouping all the comments into categories.
It essentially boiled down into four main reasons.
Having high – if not impossible – standards
Through all of these, I realized that almost all of our challenges are self-imposed. We’re deliberately making it harder for ourselves to find Mr. or Mrs. Right by creating all kinds of restrictions on ourselves.
It got me thinking. Why is that?
Sure, we are mostly to blame. I also think it’s how online dating sites are marketed to us. Admittedly, marketers behind online dating sites like Okcupid, Match, eHarmony are really good at marketing to us why we need their services.
Dating isn’t a new phenomenon like say taking selfies on Instagram. It’s a tried and true way to meet your soulmate since the dawn of modern society.
Online dating sites ploy on many of our biggest fears and insecurities.
What if there is no one out there for me?
What if I end up all alone?
Should I start hoarding cats?
The reality is you don’t need an online dating site to meet your soulmate. Our parents didn’t. Nor, our grandparents.
These sites are engineered to make you think there are millions of people on their site – and one of them is waiting for you. This could be the case. It may happen from online dating or it could happen in the grocery store line. No matter where you find your soulmate- online or offline- it requires a certain element of fate and luck. You can’t code a tech platform that completely accounts for the serendipitous elements of fate and luck.
That brings me back to my previous points. In order to maximize all of our chances of finding someone really great, we need to stop being so hard on ourselves and/or let our guard downs. Instead of looking for the perfect person (as perfect is nearly impossible to find), look for someone who is pretty great that complements you.
What’s your biggest dating challenge? I would love to hear from you in the comment section below or you can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
But all that being said, NYC never really felt like a permanent home. It was like an extended vacation. I was working 60-70 hours a week and out either at “networking events” or happy hours with friends/coworkers at least 4 nights a week. What happened? I burnt out completely at the age of 24. When I didn’t want to go out and drink until sunrise, I suddenly felt very isolated.
NYC is a city that is always on. People expect you to work crazy hard and then to bounce back and party just as hard if not harder. For a self-proclaimed introvert, this can be very overwhelming. And isolating.
Apartments are generally too small to hang out with friends at home. The dating scene is atrocious. That leaves bars as the most easily accessible venue to see and hang out with people.
It can lead even the most cautious person to becoming a functional (or out of control) alcoholic.
I didn’t like that there was almost no chance to see friends in settings outside bars and brunches (for that matter being able to see folks completely sober).
This wasn’t a sudden realization. One that took over 6 months to realize. Much, much longer to sink in.
People get so caught up in the glamor of the NYC lifestyle, that stuff like this gets cast over. Heck, I cast right over it for a long time. Too long, in hindsight.
Sure, people complain about the high rent prices, the disgusting smells of rotting trash (and who knows what else) in the summer time and the homeless problem in the subway stations (Seriously, do not get on an empty train at rush hour.) But, the one thing most people often don’t talk about is just how lonely of a city NYC is. It’s a city that is absolutely inundated with crowds (rush hour on the subway, a packed lunch counter, a weekend walk in crowded Central Park, etc). Every one is so caught up in their own heads in the hustle and bustle of trying to make it big that it winds up being a very isolating and lonely place.
Every one is going from place A to B in autopilot mode with their headphones in. Rarely if at all do you see people stop to talk to one another. Or just say hello.
Nobody knows their neighbors. And everyone is anonymous on the streets. That’s empowering, isolating and increasingly terrifying.
This is something I tried to overlook and then tried to change by volunteering with a community startup called On My Block films. This encouraged folks to get to know their neighbors by creating a film together in 48 hours. A seriously awesome project. And one that I am trying to make happen in Austin. But that’s another post altogether.
No matter how awesome the project was, it wasn’t enough to make NYC feel truly like home.
Looking back 18 months later while I may still struggle with loneliness from time to time (but I increasingly think that comes with the territory of relationships changing in your 20s), I believe moving away from NYC was one of my smartest decisions. At least for my sanity and mental health.
Have you ever felt isolated in the city that you live or lived in? Please share your thoughts below in the comment section or by emailing me directly (if you aren’t comfortable sharing publicly) at email@example.com. (I do read and respond to all emails).
I recognize it’s a bit ironic that I am going to tackle a blog post on healthy and happy relationships because I have had more bad dates and relationship failures than I would like to admit. I also know there are very few great, solid articles on building healthy relationships out there.
Most articles and posts either come from the “watch sunsets and cuddle” variety or like they appear straight out of Cosmo with 12 kinky sex positions you have to try to impress your man. If you try the second option, it may or may not land you a featured segment on TLC’s new show, “Sex Sent me to the ER.”
*Unrelated, TLC needs a rebrand badly. With shows like Sex Sent Me To The ER, My Strange Addiction, Sister Wives and Breaking Amish (or whatever sequel they are on now), it’s no longer “The Learning Channel.”
Rant aside, you then enter a third area of articles and posts that sound like they came straight out of a romantic comedy or a Disney movie. I’m a big fan of You’ve Got Mail, Aladdin and The Little Mermaid, but that’s just not how relationships work. For starters, I am not a mermaid and woefully admit to not having a magic carpet. Long, healthy relationships don’t just auto-magically happen and flourish. It takes a lot of work (and quite frankly) a lot of screw-ups before you find “the one.” That’s just the first step. From there, you need to constantly work at it.
Some of the best advice I’ve seen came from this recent post from Mark Manson. If you haven’t read his stuff yet, please sign up for his blog now. It’s f***ing brilliant.
While I can go on and on for days around this article that Mark posted, I wanted to focus on the one issue that isn’t talked about as much (and one that I personally struggle with from time to time.) It’s commitment and/or trust issues.
Commitment issues can come in all forms. This can manifest in many ways. Like the guy who has cheated on every girl he has ever been with or the girl who goes on a million first dates but is terrified of taking the next step. In my case, I’ve definitely dealt with my fair share of the second option. It can be terrifying to let your guard down and fail head over heels in love with another person. Particularly if you have had your heart broken a time or ten before. Either by guys, and maybe even a close friend or family member.
While the first option gets discussed (and dare I say stigmatized? Think, the Maury Show paternity test episodes?) time and time again on just about every psychology and/or dating blog, the second rarely gets discussed. It’s largely the invisible, unseen problem that no one brings up.
Personally, I think it’s because it is more subtle. It’s something that most people try and hide from others. It makes sense why would anyone willing put themselves in a very vulnerable state. Especially since most commitment phobias stem from a personal trauma. Either from a really bad break-up or a traumatic falling out with a friend or family member. Most of us eventually find ways to cope (hopefully healthy ways!). So why unlock that emotional baggage once again if you don’t absolutely have to. The result is an astoundingly small amount of credible stuff on this area around the Interwebz.
When you do find stuff around commitment issues, you see vague posts that can be summed up in 1-2 short paragraphs and instead are stretched out to a myriad of bullet points. Or, something that vaguely resembles a Buzzfeed quiz.
While it’s not like bipolar disorder or depression (although I’m sure commitment issues can lead to it), it’s a mental health issue nonetheless. As humans, we thrive on companionship and the need to feel wanted. Ignoring and/or leaving that need unfulfilled is going to damage your spirit and psyche.
As Amber Naslund, one of my all-time favorite bloggers puts it best, “Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, dozens of other mental illnesses. They’re terribly stigmatized. Which means that people don’t talk about it, don’t ask for help, don’t get treatment. Because they’re afraid. Afraid of being judged.” This came from Amber’s TedX talk, which is definitely worth watching, as it’s nothing short of inspiring and empowering.
Commitment phobia – while definitely not as serious as mental illnesses like depression, bipolar disorder, and a whole hosts of others- shouldn’t be ignored or written off. It is still something that can eat up and affect your mental health. It is something that you need to acknowledge and work through. And, let’s face it. It’s stigmatized (in all the ways that I previously discussed). Most of us can’t go to a friend and say, “I think I have a problem. I’m terrified of commitment,” for fear of being ostracized or judged. I mean it’s terrifying to put this out there, as I’m having second thoughts on even writing this post.
The only way to overcome and learn to work through it (because I do think you can learn how to do this) is get help. Find one friend to talk to, a family member, seek out a therapist (it’s not as expensive as you would think and most insurances cover it), reach out to a blogger, who has blogged about this before, or start your own blog. Just do something. Whatever you end up doing, just don’t keep internalizing it. That’s the real danger.
I am sitting here with Evernote open and a blank page starring back. All I keep thinking about is what makes me qualified to write an ebook all around making and keeping friendships.
Let’s be honest. I am after all probably the least qualified person to write a book about making new friends and keeping the old ones alive and in tact. I am perpetually shy and can be socially awkward when I am around strangers. I hate the feeling of going to large meetups where I know nobody. And, I think the word, “networking” sounds dirty.
Let’s face it. I’m the classic Type A, semi-socially awkward, over-analyzing introvert (Yes, I admit it). I run away or chicken out from most meetups. In turn, my desire for the safe and familiar land of my couch and a seemingly never-ending Netflix queue has probably kept me from meeting a lot of really awesome, badass people. So, why on this planet should anyone read a book from someone like me?
As one of my favorite songs came on my Spotify Playlist: One Life by Boyce Avenue, the main chorus came blaring on. . .
“Open your eyes.
And know you’re free to come alive.
You’ve got to live it while you can.
We only get one life”
That’s when I had an epiphany. We only have one life. We all given a set number of days on this Earth. We just don’t know how many we have left. And, we all crave connections and the feelings of being wanted. We want the best moments of our lives to be ones that we shared with our closest friends and/or family. It’s after all human nature to want to feel loved, wanted and unconditionally accepted.
The hard part to accept is this isn’t a God-given right. It takes a lot of work to build lasting, true friendships that will last a lifetime. Or, even just good friendships that will last a few months or years.
In this ebook, I have compiled tips from 30+ truly inspiring, badass 20 and early 30-somethings. It’s separated into two sections. One for making new friends. And, another for keeping existing friendships through all of the changes that life throws at us.
I honestly don’t know how many people will read it. I don’t know how many will even care. While I secretly hope this spreads like wildfire, if this book can just deeply touch and resonate with just one person, I am confident all the self-doubt and confidence issues that I dealt with while working on this will be worth it.
Well, more specifically, it’s about discovering and chasing your true talent. A subtle, but important difference.
I feel like our generation – that of Gen Y- throws this term, “passion,” around too lightly. It’s all about doing what you love. If there is one video that could sum this whole sentiment up, it’s the Holstee Manifesto.
In theory, I think the Holstee Manifesto is brilliant, inspiring, motivational, and insert 10 other adjectives. However, I feel like many people have taken this completely out of context.
It starts something like this. Find something that you fucking love. Keep doing it. And, then auto-magically the money will follow. While that sounds wonderful on paper, That’s a really naive way to chase your passion.
Instead of trying to turn your passion into something that you do 24/7, where at some point you are just going to set yourself up for a date with burn out. It should instead be about discovery. It’s about exploring and figuring out what your God-given talent is and what you are meant to do on this Earth. It’s about making that true talent- that only you can bring to the table- a priority.
The scariest part is most people go through their entire life on auto-pilot and never have the chance to really live and breathe their true talent and potential day in and day out. I’m not sure about you – but that’s absolutely terrifying.
So, how do you dial down the auto-pilot signal and start living everyday to the fullest? To be totally honest, I’m not 100% sure. But, I do know that it starts by looking at yourself and occasionally looking to others around you to find inspiration on how to live their true calling day in and day out. Here’s examples of four badasses doing just that.
“When our lives create a change in others, we have left our mark.”
For Tessa, her true talent is photographing. (Although I would add storytelling to this list, as this photography reel is nothing short of compelling and impactful). It’s about capturing the everyday moments of laughter, compassion and beauty in the lives around her.
“This is a call not only to stop measuring ourselves by the accomplishments for others – but a call to do whatever it is you do exceptionally well. You’re not average, unless you convince yourself that you are.”
Matt is a serial entrepreneur and blogger. While he runs a branding agency in Nashville, called Proof Branding, I’ve been following his work since his freelance days and the humble beginnings of his personal blog, Life without Pants. While pretty much every post on both Life without Pants and the Proof Branding blog pack a fist full of awesomeness, this post on the fear of being average resonates with me to the core. It’s about diving in deep, facing your fears head-on and going full throttle.
3. Greg Hartle
Would you give away all your possessions (minus $10 and a laptop) and set out on a cross-country journey? My guess is that you would look at me like a crazy person and say, “Hell no!” But, that’s exactly what Greg Hartle did.
After a traumatic personal health experience, he had an epiphany. He got rid of all of his possessions and set out on a cross-country journey with the goal to help folks and rebuild his life with scratch. His blog and the experiences he details are absolutely fascinating and a must-read.
4. Colin Wright
Most people fantascize about traveling to exotic countries for long stretches of time. But, most never do it. Through his lifestyle design blog, Colin has literally packed up all of his things (which like Greg isn’t much, as he is a minimalist) and moved to a foreign country- decided purely by the readers of his blog- for three months. Multiple times. If that’s not a badass way to live, than I don’t know what is.
Whether you are a wedding photographer, an entrepreneur, serial adventurer, or just a typical 20-something in the midst of a quarter-life crisis, it should ultimately be about discovering what you were born to do and then chasing it.
What steps are you taking to live your dream life? I want to hear from you in the comment section below.
My 20s – well the first six years of it- haven’t gone as planned. Chances are if you reading this, your 20s probably haven’t either.
I feel like I’m on the world’s longest emotional rollercoaster ride. Some days I feel like I’m on the top of the biggest hill. Giddy, happy and enthusiastic. Other nights – like tonight- I feel like I’m free-falling down the biggest coaster drop, and all I want to do is curl up into a ball and cry in self-pity, “Why me?”
I like to think that though all of the heartbreaks, disappointments and failures that I have dealt with, I’ve become a really strong mid-20-something female. I’m independent. I’m fighter with a can-do attitude. I can handle any curveball that life throws my way. The reality is most days I’m pretty sure this is just a facade. A coping mechanism that I put on to shield myself from all the trauma I’ve gone through.
The only thing that I can really think of that’s gotten me through all this isgetting really comfortable being uncomfortable.
I know this may sound like pure torture to many of you. Why would anyone voluntarily place themselves in a situation that freaks them out or scares them shitless?
But, looking back, the scariest, most uncertain times in my life has made me that much more appreciative of what I have and often have resulted in my fondest memories.It’s forced me to be vulnerable and live in the NOW.
I feel like being vulnerable has negative connotations in our society. In reality, I actually think it’s a good thing. It forces you to be on your toes, open yourself up and be more authentic. Most importantly, it forces you to appreciate what you do have and live in the NOW.
As I’m going on like year three of what seems like a never-ending quarter-life crisis, the biggest lessons I keep encountering from my mentors- who are all older than me- all stem back to getting uncomfortable and living in the NOW.
So, how exactly do you get more UNcomfortable? Here’s five tips from some of my favorite bloggers that I keep going back to and re-reading day after day.
1. Get Comfortable Flying Solo
How many of you have always thought about going to a nice dinner all by lonesome? Or, grabbing a drink at the bar by yourself? I know I have. However, I usually chicken out before doing it. I let self-doubt and the fear of being perceived as “awkward” or as a creepy loner get in the way of possibly a delicious meal.
This is the first decade where most of us are flying free. For the first 18 or so years of our lives, we went to school and lived by our parents’ and teachers’ rules. Then, we had college, where we got to express more of our individuality, but still lived within quite a few constraints.
Our 20s are really the first time where we get to live 100% on on our terms. Many of us start out with big dreams. Most end up abandoning them fairly quickly- usually because of lack of instant gratification, a societal pressure to “be an adult” or simply it’s too hard.
The reality is it’s easy to cruise on auto-pilot and succumb to societal pressures of being an adult in a 9 to 5 TPS report-filing cubicle job. If you want to live like they do in Office Space, by all means do it.
However, if you have bigger dreams and aspirations, it’s going to require a shit ton of work. Like this post on the The Porch Dallas, you will need to be willing to forge ahead with a lot of hard work without a lot of instant gratification.
“Almost nothing truly worthwhile comes quickly. It takes time and discipline to become an Olympic athlete, or to simply get in shape; to get a degree, or become a CPA, or become a great husband or wife. And any of the things you truly want long-term can be derailed by indulging yourself in the moment.”
3. Don’t Settle.
It’s not just being willing to dream big, but it’s also about not being willing to settle in your 20s. This is really the only decade in your life where you are expected to explore and try new things without having big ramifications. Once you have a wife/husband and/or kids, you have a lot more responsibilities to handle. And, a lot less ability to explore and take risks.
Don’t just succumb to wanderlust and exploration with the thought of I can just start my real life in my 30s. There is no do-over time. Explore and take risks, but with a purpose of finding your true identity and calling. Make your 20s count for something.
Finding an apartment can be stressful. It can be downright near impossible to find an affordable place in a big city, like New York City. While budget and location are argurably the two biggest factors, there’s a whole host of other items to consider before signing a new apartment lease.
8. Have there ever been any major crimes committed in or near this unit?
9. Has anyone ever died in this apartment unit before? Ghosts, anyone?
10. Check the windows, and make sure they open and close properly.
11. Make sure all the appliances work.
12. Assess the parking situation.
13. Check the lighting both in and outside the unit.
14. Double and triple check the kitchen cabinets. (i.e. rat/mice droppings, insects and other little critters)
15. Check and flush the toilet(s) a few times. The last thing you want to deal with is weekly bathroom floods.
16. Try to negotiate an out-clause or at least favorable sub-lease terms, should you need it.
17. Ask about the pet policy,
18. What’s the maintenance policy? Ideally, it should be 24/7 hotline.
19. Invest in renters’ insurance. It’s very affordable and will offer you peace of mind, not to mention many apartment buildings now require it.
20. Make sure to ask if the landlord intends to show your apartment near the end of your lease. Not uncommon in NYC. Negotiate accordingly.
21. Inspect the apartment thoroughly for broken fixtures, stains and/or dents in any walls.
22. Check for mold and mildew especially in the bathroom(s) and near the kitchen sink.
23. If it’s an older building, ask if they use lead paint.
24. Find out about the electric situation before you move in. This also includes searching for the fuse box.
Trust me as someone who has personally blown a fuse on like day 2 of her new apartment, it’s worth asking.
25. Check for working smoke alarms and fire sprinklers.
26. Ask if you can hammer/nail into the walls. What’s the process of “cleaning it up” at move out time?
27. Early cancellation fees
28. If it’s a smaller building or duplex owned by the landlord, check to make sure he/she is paying the bills regularly. The last thing that you want is to get a notice from the electric company saying so and so has X days to pay the bill or they are shutting off the lights in all the common areas (been there?) or worse, getting a foreclosure notice in the mail.
29. Previous tenant histories
30. Swing by the apartment at several different times of the day (i.e. at least morning and/at night) before signing a lease. An apartment that could look amazingly safe and secure during the day can turn super sketchy at night.
31. Make sure the walkways to get from your car to inside your apartment are well-light and reasonably safe.
32. Noise complaints/violations
33. Visitor policies (guest limits, limitations on how many nights overnight guests can stay, etc.)