I’ve been through a lot of changes in the last year: battling depression, leaving school, moving to New York City, working at a tech start-up, moving back to the midwest, and now adjusting to working remotely and balancing blogging in the midst of all of it.
I look at how stressful the last year has been but I also realize that this time of change is just a part of growing up and everyone my age has either experienced that stress or will be very soon.
I’m by no means an expert at handling stress (I’m known to hole up in my room and listen to Hilary Duff’s Metamorphosis album on a loop to hid from any and all stressors) but I have gotten pretty good at handling change.
I’ve learned a lot, and while I still have a lot to learn I’m sure, I wanted to share my top five tips for dealing with change in your early twenties:
Focus on quality
The quality of the people you spend time with, the things you own, and the effort you put into the things you do.
When I was younger I was so focused on having as many friends as possible (including ones that didn’t treat me well), trendy clothes that would inevitably tatter after two washes, and hobbies that were quirky or unique that people would think were interesting.
Minimizing and downsizing will help show you what’s important and what to hold on to even in times of change. Whether your change is coming in the form of a new career careers, zip code, or relationship – focusing on quality will bring take you far.
In both of my moves I’ve especially had to focus on the quality of the material things I own. I wore right through a pair of shoes walking to and from work everyday, and my carry-on hardly survived the trips.
Rather than replacing it with another cheap fast-fashion bag, I’ve picked out a beautiful backpack from Backpacks.com. The site just launched (hooray!) and has backpacks for whatever transition you may be going through – whether you’ve just quit your job and are planning on backpacking the Himilayas or you made it to your freshman year and forgot your backpack (don’t worry, been there done that) you can find your perfect pack on Backpacks.com.
If you’re wondering, my pack is their High Sierra Avondale Backpack in Hydro.
Be prepared for the worst
Not in a pessimistic sense, but I think part of growing up is realizing that life might not go the way you want it to just because you want it to.
Hope for the best, and even expect the best but also realize that things can go the exact opposite of planned.
Now, you might be thinking:
“Great advice and all, but what does this actually mean?“
Well, have a plan B. Always.
For example: When I left school I didn’t have a plan – that wasn’t smart. Luckily, opportunity sort of fell into my lap, but if it hadn’t I was riding on my blog carrying me to success.
Now if I had to do it over again I would have honed in on my skills and began building a copywriting portfolio and dipping my toe into freelancing just so I had something to fall back on.
But this advice applies to any change. Moving across the country? Create an emergency kit in case your car breaks down. Traveling to Africa? Plan for the potential of missing a flight in an area where you don’t speak the language.
I’ve gotten into the mindset of thinking, “What might go wrong and what can I do if it does.” Thinking these things through means I’m rarely caught completely off guard.
My backpack has all of the necessities and things that I probably (hopefully!) won’t need. Anything from bobby pins to pepper spray, you best bet I’ve got it.
Network (even if you don’t want to)
I’m an introvert and often times communication exhausts me. I find myself dreading texting back even my best friend, or wanting to cancel plans five minutes before I’m supposed to leave.
It’s not that I don’t like the person I’m talking to or going to see (in fact, I love them!) but I have leftover social anxiety that creeps in from time to time that makes networking and making friends hard.
But when it comes down to it – your network is going to end up being so valuable to you if things don’t go as planned.
Again, this tip might be a bit more catered to those whose big change involves a change in location, but it’s still applicable to anyone.
If you’re moving it’s important to establish connections right away. Speaking to my last tip, if things go wrong it’s nice to know that you have people you can count on, at least to some degree.
When I moved to New York I had my first experience with true street harassment the day after my mom left and I was very shaken and upset and really just in need of a hug.
Unfortunately, I had only been in the city for a short amount of time and hadn’t made any friends I could turn to yet.
That experience opened my eyes though and made me realize that I needed to find my people, and I needed to do it quickly.
While I never had as scary of an experience as that first one, once I found people I could talk about it with and who would help me shake it off, I suddenly felt a lot less alone.
So no matter how introverted and shy you might be, put on your brave pants and a smile, and reach out to establish a net of people who know and care about you.
Ignoring all of the rules of stranger danger most of the people I met I found on Instagram! I looked through hashtags like #NYCBlogger and #NYCIntern and found some really incredible people!
Don’t worry too much
I think one thing that hurts young adults more than anything is stressing out over the future and thinking that they need to have everything figured out right this second.
The truth is – we have plenty of time to make mistakes, learn from them, and grow as people. Most mistakes we make right now will be long forgotten in a few years.
If you spend your time worrying over whether you made the right decision or if you should have opted for something else instead then you’re losing valuable time that could be spent doing anything else in the world other than worrying.
You are young and you’re going to screw up. Once you realize that it becomes a lot less intimidating.
Keep moving forward
When the going gets tough, it’s easy to want to run back into your comfort zone and never leave. But you made whichever change you pursued for a reason, and you owe it to yourself to see it through.
That scary experience I mentioned earlier? That was almost enough to get me to book a one way ticket home and forget about New York altogether. But I pushed through. I gave the city five and a half more months to win me over before deciding that I wasn’t cut out for the city and then I went home.
Not because I was afraid, or because I changed my mind; but because I felt like the city had given me all it had to offer and I needed to pursue new adventures from a home base that wasn’t costing me an arm and a leg.
Change is scary, and it’s never going to be as easy as staying the path; but more often than not it’s worth it. Whether it’s because it was a change for the better, or you were able to learn from it – change is a good thing.
Before I go…
Thanks to Backpacks.com for sponsoring this post and being so incredible overall! If you’re in the need for a backpack you can count on that’s just as cute as it is functional check them out! And as always, thank you so much for supporting the brands that make Mostly Morgan possible. You are rockstars.