Real talk: In your 20s, think 20-30 years ahead.

Posted in Uncategorized by a1icey on November 9, 2012

One of the worst things that can happen to a human being is to lack whatever formal badges are necessary in order to fully realize their potential.

I basically mean degrees. You only have one opportunity to do this. If you miss the boat, you can end up in your 40s and 50s completely unfulfilled by whatever employment you landed up in, underutilized and underemployed. I see it over and over. It is probably the most serious psychological harm that can be incurred at that age. I know in your twenties there seem to be much worse things (like not having an identity, not being accepted, not feeling loved). But those things fade, the angst of your 20s fades and if you spent your 20s obsessing over that instead of collecting the necessary degrees and driving hard in the direction of a career, you will find yourself spinning wheels when you hit middle-age.

This happens so often because the more complex and intellectually curious people are more likely to struggle in their 20s with angst, and not feel like they belong in school, and not feel like they belong as a part of the establishment.

I am so thankful that I have had the life experiences that showed me the necessity of this, and when I was 23 I was finally treated for depression, I immediately started to work on getting my formal badges. Fortunately I come from a privileged background so I hadn’t gotten too far behind. I may not have great degrees. But I have at the very least foreclosed the possibility of drifting through employment opportunities and landing up in my 40s either not in a management role, or with one that does not provide any intellectual stimulation (to me).

One of the real life examples of people who are going to get skewered by this are those pursuing “art” careers. Poetry, fiction, photography. I know one girl who is from a very privileged family, so she does not need to work. But I know her to be clever and driven. She’s taking photos now, it gives her quick professional fulfillment. But in 20 years I guarantee that if I check back in on her via Google, she will be chaotically under-stimulated.

I thought I was going to land up as a freelance journalist because I felt like, on account of my angst, there was nothing else I was capable of.


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