PULSE Young Professionals are from the ages of 22 to 39. During this time in one’s life, quite a bit can change - often very quickly and sometimes unexpectedly. I myself am 27 years old and have experienced first-hand this huge shift from college student to young professional adult. Not to mention the fact that I was married last year – bringing about an entirely different type of change.
I believe this topic of change is very important as it is something we all go through and yet, it’s not always talked about, nor is it something you can necessarily prepare for. Below are a few thoughts on saying goodbye to your carefree college days and saying hello to entering into adulthood.
- Everyone around you seems to be starting a family. At my age, I find myself attending more weddings than I did college parties and buying all sorts of baby gifts, many of which I have no idea what it is or how it works. The interesting part about this stage in our lives is that we are all on different roads. Some of us stay single, some get married and some choose to focus on career before relationships. Some of us already have children, some can’t wait to start and some choose to never have kids at all. Whatever your path is, experience it and soak it all in.
- Your friends and your friendships change. In college, I was a social butterfly and constantly surrounded by opportunities to make new friends. Now, as a young, married adult, my friendships have somewhat changed and the way in which I make new friends has even changed. It is not a bad thing; I accept that some people are just not walking on the same road as me anymore. Changes don’t make us good or bad people; they just determine our next steps in life. People change, friendships change and what you require out of those friendships will continue to change as you get older…and that’s okay.
- You find yourself struggling to find your own way in your career. I am on my third job (if you count my international internship), and I am refining exactly what my “dream job” would be. Of course, no job is ever going to be “perfect” and that’s not what it’s about. It’s about finding the right job that will empower, shape, and excite you at each phase of your life. For those lucky folks – this could all be within the same organization. Still, the job market has shifted significantly since our parents were our age. Your degree doesn’t necessarily determine your future. YPs can learn multiple skills, educate themselves appropriately, and take on diverse opportunities in any workplace! Although it can be overwhelming to figure out where you fit and what you’re good at when you are surrounded by older, more experienced colleagues, as long as you do your best, learn something new, and build relationships along the way, you are right where you need to be.
- Lastly, as much as we hate to say it, your responsibilities change. Remember when your only true responsibility was to set your alarm clock to go to a 9:00 a.m. class (because you dare not take a class any earlier!)? I know I do! But now, I have a job, bills to pay, a dog to feed, and this thing called “marriage” that has seemed to positively take over my life. Still, if certain things don’t change after college then you might have a problem on your hands – especially when those bills start to pile up. It’s not called being a grown up for nothing! As we go through life, our responsibilities, priorities, and even interests will change.
Every stage in your life is only meant to be a chapter, not your entire book. Some things we are meant to enjoy for a short time; others longer - that’s the beauty of life. If everything stayed the same, we would never open ourselves up to new experiences. Change can sometimes be hard to swallow, but it is necessary and wonderful if we are to live a meaningful life.
So let’s celebrate that we have our whole lives ahead of us! Let’s make it a priority to set ourselves up for success - whether that’s starting an IRA or finishing that degree. We are the next generation, and it is up to each of us to make our lives count throughout every phase of inevitable change.
Brittany Baughman is the Community Relations Coordinator at Webster University in Greenville. She is responsible for the recruitment efforts and public relations activities of the campus. She and her husband, Jonathan, currently reside in Greenville.