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Anxiety & the Young Professional

“I’m a twenty year old with nothing accomplished.”

This is a thought that I feel is universal for every young professional at one moment or another, whether we are in college or not. At such a young age why do we feel the need to constantly beat ourselves down about the incredible opportunities we have yet to accomplish, and to ignore and disregard the present opportunities as if they won’t be the breakthrough we are tired of waiting for? Because we assume that we are held to this unrealistic standard that the younger you are, the more likely you are to be successful. The other option, of course, being that the older you get, the less likely you think you are to be considered for these “amazing” offers.

We call it unrealistic, but secretly we see it as completely plausible. For instance, you have Taylor Swift garnering record deals and even winning a Grammy all by the ripe age of 18. But let’s make one thing absolutely clear, YOU ARE NOT THE TAYLOR SWIFT OF YOUR CAREER! You are your own person, so of course you shouldn’t be comparing yourself to her circumstances. Her circumstances are completely different than yours. Her family chose to move to Nashville, TN when she was just 14. When I was 14, I was in my room discovering what Songwriting was for the first time. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am in no way leveling myself with Taylor Swift: that just isn’t plausible. Why? Because we are on different paths. I wanted to obtain my college degree and she wanted to continue her music career. All I am saying is that your “breakthrough” will come.

Yes, maybe it’s not at the young age you wish it would be, but don’t let that define you as a failure. Life is full of different roads that contain ups and downs unique to that particular person. So, although I might not have 10 Grammys, a massive collection of accolades, and multiple number-one albums, I was given the ability to have a sole writing credit on one of my best friend’s sophomore album. I’m slowly achieving what I want to achieve, and that’s OK. Just like you are slowly, but steadily, on the way to making your own future career a reality.

One of the most important things I can leave you with is this: don’t let your friends’ or family’s successes make you feel small in comparison to them. Their dreams are beginning to bloom, and yes, they are growing before yours have. Yes, they will probably hit this inevitable stride where, for the longest time, they are seamlessly drifting through every life-altering experience that comes their way with ease. They are probably doing it as easily as you are letting yourself feel down about not having your own stride. It’s OK, your time will come. In the meantime, work as hard as you have been working. You might not see those results right away (or you might); either way, understand that your passion and drive will carry you through until then. Age has nothing to do with success: practice, patience, drive, and passion all do. Remember that the next time you see someone skyrocketing in your field.

P.S. At 23, J.K. Rowling was broke. Tina Fey was working at the Y.M.C.A., and Oprah had just gotten fired from her first job as a TV reporter.

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