We all get stressed. I mean come on. We just graduated from college, which was hopefully a rockin’ time, and now we’re catapulted into corporate America, expected to suddenly know how to blaze our own trail after having walked on a nearly-straight path ever since we first stepped foot in a classroom. How does that even make sense? Decisions that used to be made for us now have to be made by us, and we could literally turn in any direction to start our career. The problem with all this freedom is that it feels like there’s no one there to catch us before we crash and burn. Just talking about this great wide-open future is starting to make me anxious.
It can be said that I’m an anxious person. I guess it’s fair to say that I get anxious about a lot of things. There’s the obvious ones: where to get a job, how to pay rent, how to pay back student loans, etc. However, I also get super anxious about small stuff, such as: where am I going to park my car if we drive to the restaurant? What will work be like tomorrow if I don’t get enough sleep tonight? But the big one is: what if I go into work on Monday morning, or go into a new job (whenever I find one), and can’t do the work they give me? In other words, what if I’m inadequate? I think this is a real question that all but the absolute most self-confident twenty-somethings have to face at some point after college graduation. All our lives, we’ve lived in bubbles, and we’ve been able to carve out our own niches in these respective bubbles. Maybe in your small-town high school you were good at sports. Or maybe everyone knew you as the quiet one, the funny one, the smart one. Maybe some of those labels stuck once you got to college, and maybe you developed new ones as well. Our lives have been sectioned off for us up until now, with clearly defined roles in clearly defined environments.
But now, everything has been torn open. No longer are you that crazy guy everyone wants at their party every weekend; now you’re just Bill from the cube by the water-cooler who has yet to showcase his talents. Now I’m just Jack from Marketing who does decent work but hasn’t exactly WOW’d anyone yet. So what if they give me a project and I’m not up to snuff? Or what if everyone in the office gets lunch on days when I’m not in and casually talks about how I haven’t lived up to their expectations?
Being in your twenties is all about learning how to find your confidence. It’s all about waiting patiently for those opportunities when you can prove yourself so that you can be ready when it’s your time to shine. All I can do is sit quietly in my cubicle, waiting for my boss to give me a writing assignment that I can knock out of the park, or wait for that interviewer who is going to take a chance on a guy with minimal real world work experience so that I can show them what’s what in an interview. Am I anxious/worried that I may never get that chance? Sure. But that doesn’t mean it won’t come. Sooner or later, everyone gets presented with an opportunity that fits their skills, if they’re diligent enough. It’s like driving to a restaurant; just because I’m worried I might not get a parking spot, doesn’t mean that one won’t be there. It’s just about being willing to wait for it.