If I were 22…
Sometimes life feels so busy that I can’t remember what I have had for breakfast, let alone have time to reflect on what I’ve learned since my first day of work. I have been reading advice shared by leading business figures as part of LinkedIn’s “If I Were 22” series, where business leaders were asked to share what they’d do differently - or keep the same.
The combination of a rainy day, and feeling a little inspired prompted me to pull out a pen and paper and have a think about what I’ve learned. Although it wasn’t that long ago, the last few years have definitely had their fair share of lessons for me!
Funnily enough, 22 was a pretty big year for me. I graduated, moved to Melbourne and started my career as a graduate at a corporate law firm.
My 22 year-old self thought that this was the right thing to do. It’s a pretty clear career plan for a young law graduate – you go to University, get the right grades, demonstrate you are a well-rounded candidate, and then set on your way getting experience in the big world. Especially in a terrible job market, with a lot of my peers still struggling to get their foot in the door, getting a good job was a great start.
I was living up to society’s expectations of me. Deep down, I felt a bit guilty – I had always been passionate about social justice, and the corporate law thing felt a little bit off track. But I knew that I would learn good skills, and it felt like the right place to start.
Fast forward four years, and I have just started a new career in a completely different field. I guess my gut feeling about corporate law was right! I have certainly grown heaps … so here’s a bit of what I have learned so far.
If I were 22…
Like it or not, everyone will have an opinion about who you are, what you do and where you are going. If they don’t have an opinion about you, that’s probably a problem too.
Go fearlessly in the direction of your dreams, no matter what other people think.
Or as Taylor Swift said, the haters gonna hate, hate, hate…
Don’t live your life in fear of other people’s expectations. If you don’t love what you are doing at work – this can have a huge impact on the rest of your life.
You will meet a number of people on your journey that you will like, love or perhaps never see eye-to-eye with.
Make the effort to treat everyone how you want to be treated, but don’t lose too much sleep if it’s just not meant to be. The people that remain constant in your life are the ones you need to hold on to – and some of my closest friends these days are the furthest away. But that’s OK. It’s also OK to realise that people will drift in and out of your life.
Never let other people’s judgment or opinions control your life. Cut the people who don’t make you happy and build a tribe of support.
This one can be a painful lesson to learn, because it's coupled with the realisation that some people won't be friends forever. The lesson here is to stop letting people who don't care about you get you down: harsh but true.
I’m not sure if the 22 year-old me would be surprised about where I’ve ended up.
Life is a journey. And it’s exciting.
No matter what stage of your journey you are at, there will always be new people to meet, new things to learn and new experiences that change your perspective. Don’t become complacent and never stop learning.
What would you tell your 22-year old self?
Here are some of my favourites from the LinkedIn Influencers:
- “Doing good things for others never stops making you feel good about yourself.” David Letterman
- “You can’t be everything to everyone at the every time. Life ebbs and flows and challenges sometimes bring you inspired opportunities. You don’t need to let go of the ambitious dreams of your youth, but sometimes you just need to put them in your back pocket on your way to achieving them.” Joan Lunden
- “We all deserve a second chance. Next time you have the opportunity to give somebody their second chance, don’t think twice.” Richard Branson
- “The only way to get where you need to go, is to actually go for it – to show up, and knock on the door, and then run through it.” Marynard Webb
You are not your job. You are the sum of your thoughts, intentions and most importantly, your actions. Suze Orman
What would you tell your 22 year old self? I would love to hear from you.