If I Were 22: What I Wish I Knew Last Year

A Response to LinkedIn's Series "If I Were 22"

I'm 23, but if I were 22 I would tell myself to spend less time choosing an Instagram filter, and more time doing things that are worthy of a picture in the first place #nofilter.

Stop waiting. Start committing. Just because you’re still in college doesn’t mean that you have to wait for the rest of your life to begin.

Me, like a month ago, when I was 22. I call this picture, "A Metaphor". So deep, right?

I can recall a few instances when I had intentions of making a commitment: To volunteer for Big Sister and the Girl Scouts, to learn to code, to get certified as a fitness instructor, to travel to Africa to volunteer at a school for Girls. But I waited. I wasn’t sure if these things would fit into my “5-year plan". Would I get a job in a different state? Would I miss out on another, better opportunity if I took this one? When I was 22 I waited to see what would happen. Guess what? Nothing ever really did because instead of grabbing opportunities, I watched as they passed by. To my 22 year old self I would say, "Wake up! Not much is going to fit into your 5-year plan if you don’t start that plan."

I would tell myself, don’t be afraid to choose. When I was 22, what I feared most was my immense potential. What I feared most was all of the options and opportunities knocking at my door. I knew I would be good at whatever I chose to do, but I didn’t know what the right choice was. As an older and wiser 23 year old, I would say that I don't know if there necessarily is a “right choice”. I think the choice is to start. The choice is to work hard, and never stop reaching for your goals whatever they may be.

To quote Marianne Williamson or Nelson Mandela, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be so brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that others won’t feel insecure around you.”

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This post was inspired by LinkedIn’s series “If I Were 22”. Below are 3 of my favorite quotes from the series:

“Follow your passion. Great breakthroughs don’t happen when you’re half-hearted. They require people who are emotionally and intellectually invested in what they’re doing…A Harvard Business Review study interviewed 125 leaders of all ages and asked what they thought was the most important capability for leaders to develop. The one essential trait agreed on wasn’t decisiveness, assertiveness, great communications skills, or team building. It was self-awareness and being true to who you are.”

-Helene Gayle, CEO of CARE

“Learn what you’re good, and not good at. Being able to acknowledge your weaknesses is a key component of success. When you identify your shortcomings, you are empowered to ask for help and pair with others who will lend a hand while also benefitting from your strengths.”

-Rachel Zoe, CEO of Rachel Zoe Inc.

“Part of being human is wanting to fit in with the group, or at least a group. There’s a reason that intrepid venture capitalists all cluster together on Sand Hill Road, and that hipster kids who want to be defined by their differences all flock to Williamsburg and dress like one another. But the worst mistakes I made in work and in friendship were because I was seduced by the idea of belonging.”

-Bethany McLean, Journalist