I’m coming up on my 1 year anniversary in the “real world.” Yes, it’s a cliché, but this cliché is what I have wanted for as long as I can remember. I looked forward to that moment when I could finally stop going through the motions and start applying myself.
“Real World” Sydney is the Best Version of Sydney
I am a firm believer and advocate of education, but I’m the first to admit that I wasn’t a straight-A student and never felt truly myself until I graduated from college. Since middle school I was dedicated to applying myself outside of the class room in order to truly experience the world. You might think that’s a bit of an exaggeration for a twelve-year-old, but seriously…ask my closest friends and family and they will agree.
I have ALWAYS done things that were “too old” for my age. Here’s a few examples:
1. I visited a primitive village in the Solomon Islands for a month when I was twelve. There was still cannibalism being practiced and most people ran around naked. To this day, I have never felt closer to nature in my life. It was the hardest month of my life but I will always cherish that time.
2. I interned for a media company at 18 years old. That internship helped me land my first job out of college. I will forever be grateful to my former bosses who saw something in me when I hardly knew what the media industry was.
3. I was determined to travel to Australia on my own for two weeks when I was 20. I consider this my “finding myself” trip that reminded me of those in my life that I truly valued. I also swam in the Great Barrier Reef alongside a wild sea turtle, walked across the Sydney Bridge (I hate heights), and visited the city I was named after.
4. I became a license real estate agent at age 20 before graduating from college.
The list could go on and on. I have never felt age appropriate. I have a young heart and mature soul. Most of my friends are 5+ years older than me. Put me in a room with a bunch of parents and I promise you, I’ll have the best time. I’ve had to work through that reality and know that those qualities make me, me.
Let me be honest.
I have always felt confident in myself, but I have never felt confident socially. I never fit in in college. I can count my true, die hard friends from college on one hand. People have been “nice,” but 98% of them have talked badly behind my back. This isn’t me trying to get sympathy. I’m just trying to tell the story of my “real world” evolution.
I think most of the reason why I felt lonely in college was because I wasn’t doing all the normal college things. I would spend my weekends traveling or heading into NYC for job opportunities. I spent my summers interning and working three jobs. But I wouldn’t want it any other way because those experiences and decisions led me to where I am right here. Right here on the couch in my NYC apartment where I’m writing this to you all.
Someone came up to me in my final semester of college and said, “Oh my gosh! I feel like I haven’t seen you in FOREVERRR.” I realized in that moment that no, she hadn’t seen my in a frat basement “in forever,” but I have been running around campus working four jobs, taking five classes, and sneaking in time for my friends. No, you might not have seen me at every frat party, but I can tell you that I felt like I experienced everything I possibly could’ve on campus. So, if you’re ever told you’re not “being social enough,” please reevaluate the people you hangout with, because it’s more likely that you’re doing the best thing for you in that time and you don’t owe anything to those half-ass friends who are keeping frat tabs on you. It’s likely they’ll forget who you are after graduation anyway.
So, here we are today.
I live in Midtown Manhattan with my boyfriend of 6.5 years. I work at a media company doing event marketing. I have grown to like my job more and more throughout the past year. I feel like I have purpose and am respected at my company despite my age. I got a promotion within the first six months of working there. I have a seat at the table and they want to hear my voice.
I have made incredible friendships with girls in the “creative world.” These are girls that understand my creativity, my drive to inspire others, and truly care about me. Shout out to you: Gisel, Hawa, Christina & Sam!
Even though I’m not the “biggest” writer or content creator out there, I feel truly confident and happy with the work I’ve created. I’m networking like crazy, I’m experiencing one-in-a-lifetime things, and I know I’m growing bit by bit every month. That’s all that matters to me.
I want to share 5 tips with you that have truly helped me get in a strong and happy place.
1. NO ONE is looking out for your best interest besides you. Not even your boyfriend, not even your parents, not even your best friend or your boss. No one else knows you the way you do. At the end of the day, you need to do things that make you truly happy. If someone else thinks it’s a bad idea, but you think it’s a great idea, you should probably just do it. You don’t want to be 80 and wish you did that one thing when you were 22 that could’ve changed the course of your life.
2. Never settle for the position you have now. You will have that “bigger and better” position one day. Respect yourself enough to know that you’ll get there eventually with hard work and good ethics. I may only be a manager role now, but I’m going to work my butt off to be the CEO one day. I’ll see you at the top.
3. Be kind. Kindness goes such a far way. Your “hello, good morning!” to a co-worker could truly shape their day. Offering to buy someone’s coffee or take them out to lunch for doing you a favor makes a difference. Kindness to each other is what makes the world go round. We all have trials and tribulations, but if we’re kind to each other, we’re one step closer to being in a better place.
4. Sacrifice. No successful person ever got there without sacrifice. Whether that’s skipping out on a night of drinks with your friends or working a side gig, it will get you one step closer to your goal. A simple job will give you a simple life. A hectic life will give you endless opportunities and fulfilled dreams.
5. Be grateful. This is hard because sometimes we’re at a place in life and we really don’t want to be there. Maybe it’s taking you longer to find a job than you’d like or your friend group isn’t treating you the way you want. Be grateful for where you are in this exact moment in time. Know that things can change in one second or one minute or one day or one week. It’s really hard to relish in the unknown, but everything will be explained at some point and you have to be grateful for that.
To all of you starting your “real world” life in a month once you graduate or those who may be further down the journey, I invite you to be proud of where you come from, where you are now and where you will be. I have become the best version of Sydney this past year because I learned and accepted that.