Graduation season is almost upon us, which is such a wonderful time of celebration and transition (and, if I remember correctly, perhaps also some ill-advised whiskey shots and full-blown panic about the future).
I'm headed off to my 10-year college reunion this month (!!). I've learned and lived more in the last decade than I could have imagined since I put on a big polyester gown and stepped into the "real world" full-time.
At the same time, I think it's telling that when I sat down to create cards for recent grads, I actually ended up writing with myself in mind. Turns out, the fortifying words that I would say to myself as a teen or twenty-something year-old are not that different from the ones I need to hear in my thirties, as I continue to explore and journey down entrepreneurial and personal paths I never thought I'd be on:
But in thinking about what nuggets of advice I'd give to my younger self (and reminders to my current self), here are a few of the many, many things that I'd want to tell her:
follow your interests
Don't worry too much about making a "wrong" career move - as long as you keep learning, you're moving forward. Learning is never a waste of time. All of the jobs you will have will provide invaluable skills, perspectives, and experiences that will make you a better thinker, team member, and entrepreneur (and general human being) in ways that you can't foresee. It's okay to pursue something just because you are curious about it - if you wait until you're sure something is a "passion" before taking a step in that direction, you can be waiting for a long time and miss out on a lot of worthwhile experiences and fun detours in the meantime. Sometimes the detours can end up being the best part. :)
do it in a way that makes sense for you
You may want to do your own thing one day. Other people will find meteoric success, seemingly overnight. They may be able to come up with ideas and make investments and take risks that you are unwilling or unable to make for so many different reasons. Luckily, there is no one path to success (and so many different definitions of success) - don't feel bad about working in a way that fits your personality, lifestyle, and values, even if it seems slower or less impressive or more windy than you'd like. There are many ways to incorporate creative and entrepreneurial endeavors in your life where you can, and you should feel empowered to right-size and evolve them to fit your own circumstances, and not anyone else's. Comparing yourself to others is rarely useful; staying true to yourself will usually keep you from straying too far from what will ultimately make you happy.
find your tribe
These are the people who will cheer you on, tell it to you straight and honest, toss ideas back-and-forth, and make sure you don't veer too wildly off-course. Whatever path you end up on, they will make the journey better. Some of the friends you have now will become your family - hold tight onto them.
And whatever journey you're on, or are about to embark on, I hope that all the luck and happiness in the world lies in your path. And if you're not sure which way to go, remember that the journey really is the whole point. So pick a direction and go - whichever one you choose, you are already on the right path.