I think this is something everyone in their mid-20’s struggles with.
Your 20’s are supposed to be spent figuring life out, chasing your dreams, choosing a path and then changing your mind and choosing another. And I know that sounds like a cheesy graduation speech, but I swear from conversations I’ve had amongst friends and colleagues around my age (25), it feels like everyone is still trying to find their own way.
I know I am.
And in doing so, I tend to get into the habit of googling the people that I aspire to be like. I see someone hosting a show or on the red carpet or someone with a popping podcast, and I immediately wonder “How did they get there?”… and from there I begin to completely stalk their life on google or social media (and even LinkedIn) to get a glimpse of what path they took to land a gig that I would consider “a dream.”
At first, I thought this was a good tactic. It made dreams a reality by laying out the different steps everyone must take to reach their level of success. Seeing how my favorite on-air talent, host or anchor started out with a small internship or production assistant gig and then found their way into 5-10 more opportunities before becoming successful women like Oprah, Tamron Hall, or even some ladies closer to my age that I admire like Scottie Beam or Gia Peppers from Black Girl Podcast– it shows me they all started SOMEWHERE. And some days, that just reminds me to stay my course and by grateful that I made it this far.
And then there are the days where I get discouraged.
Have you ever asked yourself, “Why can’t THAT be me?” “What am I doing wrong?” “Have I not met the right people?” “Do I need to relocate to a different city?” “Do I not have what it takes?”
Those questions have consumed my thoughts more frequently since I started But…Don’t Take My Advice and began my podcast/blog journey. I am constantly racking my brain, thinking about what I can be doing differently, how can I do MORE to be noticed, reach a bigger audience, engage with my followers or get my big shot? These thoughts turn dangerous when I start doubting myself, doubting my talent and questioning if I am cut out for the goals that I’ve made for myself.
I don’t think I am alone in being in the midst of “the grind” and counting all the things working against me, no matter what the career path or dream is for us 20’somethings.
I’m not from a major city like New York or Las Angeles. I wasn’t born into money. I can’t just drop my 9-5 day job and move to the city to chase a dream, live out of my car and all of the other crazy stories you hear about.
**Disclaimer: I do enjoy the work I do everyday as a journalist and a news reporter. I just have plans to do more with my career in the future!
But as I was saying, I have to be REALISTIC when I think about what the next steps for me are.
And then I remember why I started But…Don’t Take My Advice. For the average girl (or guy) that doesn’t have all of the answers. I wanted to create a platform and put out content that appealed to the other 85% (I made that number up) of us that are just your average music or pop culture fans- not experts or super well versed in any one particular subject. I don’t have family members or friends that work at a record label or model or act…or any personal connection to the industry really. (Though, I do have a cousin that is a pretty big rapper from Pittsburgh- shout out to Reese Youngn).
Does that mean my opinion, views or critiques can’t be heard? Do they not count? Do they hold less weight because I wasn’t born and raised in NYC or the DMV?
The problem with social media is that we only see people’s highlight reels, and not the struggles they may have gone through to get those 20K followers, or land that gig, or start that business. I am sure those people have had their own personal hurdles to jump and worked their asses off to get where they are- that’s just the part we don’t see.
So my point is, it’s apples and oranges. I simply CAN’T compare myself to anyone else.
Whatever it is you aspire to do, try your best to realize that there is room for EVERYONE out here if you really want it.
I am nowhere near where I want to be. But I have to learn that it’s okay to be right where I am, while at the same time staying hungry and not falling complacent.
I am no expert at any of this, and usually people give these speeches when they are at the end of their journey… but what I can say is, I am trying my best to find the balance between being inspired by others and being inspired by myself and my own work.
How have you managed to decipher between the two thus far?
Share your advice in the comments below, and if it’s better… then don’t take mine!