Calm Down, Twenty-Somethings (There's Still Plenty Of Time)

Patience, persistence, perseverance - these are the toughest battles for a twenty-something.

We are passionate, mission-driven, short-sighted, and often, individualistic.

But for every crazy at home binging all the seasons of New Girl that the media criticizes (me), there’s another out there busting her ass to recoup the environmental crisis we seem to found ourselves in.

Us Millennials have learned from the mid-life crises of our parents; we want to work at companies and do things that make an impact. We want to live in a different world as eighty-somethings than we do today.

But as it turns out, Mark Zuckerberg screwed us all up. He made us believe that financial success and tech stardom could and should be achieved in one’s early twenties.

Once those years are gone, we think it’s over. The success ship has sailed. The quarter-life crisis sets in—which is really just impatience mixed with uncertainty and a dash of fear.

This is evidence of the brashness in youth—the desire to throw a Hail Mary pass in the first quarter. We don’t realize that there is plenty of time left on the clock, and that throwing the ball down field would be a dumb play call.

We want to be “there” already, all but refusing to be in this play.

Sometimes, I find myself frustrated that things aren’t moving along quicker. Why am I doing all this work and seeing no visible progress?

Then I quickly remind myself:

Who the F do you think you are? Do you think you are so wise and strong that you should somehow skip the steps that others had to take? Do you think you are exempt from the same trials and tribulations? Do you think you are entitled to faster growth or quicker money?

No. You haven’t paid your dues yet. You haven’t proved to the Universe how bad you want this. You haven’t stepped into the ring enough times.

If you want to succeed, keep pushing in the general direction you want to go. Take your time. Read better books. Build a solid foundation. Deal with the trauma and pain from your past. Explore the options. Put in your reps. Design the life you want to live.

It isn’t so damn urgent.

Be humble.

You don’t need to be a household name today. You don’t need to donate $1M to charity tomorrow. You don’t need to have a six pack yesterday.

Focus on getting in the ring and learning as much as you can. What characterizes the ‘successful youth’ is not impatience or entitlement. It’s the desire and willingness to seek out smarter people, to put in the long hours, and to take punches day after day.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work smart, you should. Pay attention to yours and others’ mistakes. Choose to invest your energy in the right areas. Study philosophy. Practice “The Pareto Principle.”

I don’t want to deter you from moving fast. You can as, Biggie Smalls, would say, “climb the ladder to success escalator style.”

But don’t expect it to happen just because you want it to.

You have to have the wherewithal to find the escalator first, the clarity of where it’s headed, and the confidence to step on.

Do you?

Kate Ward