When our parents look back at 2014, many of them will remember some of the tragedies amongst us: Ebola, Ferguson, or the the year their hearing went out. While we have dealt (or still deal) with these issues, the babies of the 90’s will remember a very different year – we are the selfish generation after all.
For one: it was the year Kim Kardashian broke the internet and bloggers harped on the fact that there was no way she could balance a glass of champagne on that oily ass. For two: my girl Taylor released her 1989 album only to, yet again, horribly dance her way into every girl’s heart. For three: on a more personal note, I survived a full year in the real world. Gold-metal worthy? No, but it was definitely worth a lot of lessons.
My friends and I all graduated college at different times. We walked across our university’s stage two by two for three consecutive years. Some of us went off to grad school while the rest have started first jobs. We’re the type of friends who can read each other like a book. We’re each others biggest cheerleaders. We argue, say the other one is crazy and still love them the next day. And we will forever fight about who would be Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda, and Samantha. Like the four ladies of our favorite show, we all move through life with different triumphs and complications, and will likely Facebook stalk all that do the same.
This past year, I’ve experienced so many new things (a new career, making friends, my first trip to the big apple) and I have been able to collect several lessons along the way. Not only do I carry my “real world knowledge,” but I am lucky enough to hold the lessons my friends have taught me as well.
If I know the 1990’s generation, I know that each of you have clicked on a Facebook article about dating, about knowing your true friends, or about how these are your selfish years. Well, after hopelessly doing my Facebook article research and actually experiencing things on my own (imagine that), I’ve collected 10 things that I’ve taken from 2014, no frills included.
10 Things I’ve Learned in 2014:
1. College. I like to reflect upon college as Adam Sandler shaking the fat kid’s face in Billy Madison – “Stay as long as you can!” I say this with a degree in one of the most drilling majors at my university: college was a cake walk. There are no blow-off classes in the real world. We can’t drink all night and sleep all day. And, worst yet, we are not done with the week on Thursday afternoon. Yes, I’m talking responsibilities here people.
2. Do things on your own. This past month I had to go to a social event for the members of my trade sans co-workers. Umm… you want me to go and socialize with adults who are experts in this field on my own? Insert instant panic. Well, I did it and it wasn’t the end of the world. In fact, I made a ton of new contacts and even a potential new client. There’s some pride to doing things on your own. I felt invigorated and confident. It’s very easy to lean on a friend or a co-worker. It’s about time I stood on my own.
3. One of the hardest things about leaving college is making new friends – hands down. Even I, the social butterfly, have felt like a Minkus in a sea of Cory, Sean, and Topangas. Friend making in a new city is almost like dating. It’s awkward and uncomfortable to put yourself out there, but in the end it could be something really great. Join a club or social group and start a conversation. Chances are, there will be other lonesome 23-year olds looking for a bud too.
4. Do it without an allowance. I can be a spoiled brat. I’ve lived a very well life and have had opportunities that most have not. I’ve been lucky. Though I never really realized how lucky I was until I had been financially cut off. No, I’m not saying I live a life of despair or that I’m constantly quoting Bridesmaid’s “help me I’m poor” (though that happens occasionally). What I’m saying is that I’m thankful to be paying the bills on my own. What kind of reality check would it be if it came with a mom and dad check too? Being financially independent comes with so many lessons: balancing a social life with the electric bill, buying groceries and actually learning to cook v.s. going out to eat every night, and no longer spending $200 a weekend on alcohol. I had to get over the fact that dad will fill up my little brother’s gas tank but not mine. I make a pay check. I can do it on my own.
5. Get a credit card – if not for any other reason than to build credit or buy plane tickets. There are so many perks with credit cards (built-in points, cash back, flier miles), it would be silly to not start building a credit profile at our age. At first I thought the idea of a credit card was scary, but it’s not an opportunity to pass Go, collect $200 and buy that Anthropologie fur vest. In fact, I just use mine for gasoline. As long as I’m making my payments each month, I’m in the clear while still building my credit.
6. Do your taxes on your own. It’s about time we knew (at least a little bit) about what all that tax mumbo-jumbo means. You’re out of college. Act like it.
7. You will make mistakes a million times over. I swear, I have thought I was going to get fired 10 times in my first year. I messed up a Pantone color… we have to reprint. I formatted my letterpress plates wrong… reprint. I didn’t do a spell check… reprint. Oh my god, I was so insecure! But honestly, these things happen. They will happen to you and they definitely happened to the person before you. 2014 has taught me to not hound on mistakes I’ve made, but rather to say “How can I fix this now?” and “How can I prevent this in the future?”
8. Appreciate your parents. They’ve gotten you this far in life, so they must know what they’re talking about. It doesn’t hurt to offer to make breakfast or to bring them a bottle of wine when you visit. You are not a baby anymore. Back home ballers isn’t a thing when you’re out of college (though it’s hilarious, please watch).
9. Give and take – in any relationship. When I moved to Charleston, most of my friends landed in Charlotte, my boyfriend started a job in Greenville, and my family lives all over the map. Life becomes busy in your first year of your career. Friendships can fade or blossom. You have to give and take. When it comes to relationships, compromising doesn’t mean you are giving in.
10. Take everything with a grain of salt. Whether it is advice from a family member or the snarky comment Joe Blow made about your latest project, take everything with criticism. Throughout your life, you’ll meet people you love and you’ll meet those who are, well, the biggest piece of dog-doo you’ve ever met. Criticism can be your worst enemy or your best doorway to growth.
As we enter 2015, my brother announces that we are just as far away from 2000 than 2030 – woah. Fifteen years ago I was nine, wearing a baseball cap and shopping for basketball t-shirts out of the Khol’s boys department. Since then I have learned to be a girl, amongst many things. My friends would tell you they learned how to apply mascara, how to accessorize with the right baubles, and how to kiss the boys that count. We all still have so much to look forward to in 2015 and the many years after that, all while teaching each other lessons along the way.
Happy New Year!