Aptly and unoriginally named “the year with the most change in my life” in my mind, there are many things I wish I would have done differently when I was 22; but I truly do value what I’ve learned from my stumbling. But just because I recognize the value doesn’t mean there aren’t some twinges of regret when I reflect on where I was a year ago. So here they are, the 6 things I regret most from my 365 days spent as a 22-year-old.
1. Not getting out of an internship that was doing nothing for me sooner.
Unfortunately, a harsh reality of college seniors and college grads is the unpaid internship. We take these on as resume builders that will “someday pay off.” But the original and real root of this trend is to learn. I was placed in an internship where the work stopped coming, my supervisor stopped teaching and I stopped learning. I regret putting aside my naturally demanding personality and choosing not to step on any toes in order to keep the peace and get a recommendation. I regret not stepping up sooner to say “I am not ok with this.”
2. Only calling my friends when I needed them.
Another harsh post-college reality is separation from your friends. It’s not normal to see your best friends for hours on end every day like it is in college. I really began to miss them when things weren’t going well and I didn’t have my college roommates to go home to and unwind and vent and release and reassure me. I began calling my friends as a distraction from what wasn’t going well and would ask them about their lives in order to distract my mind. But when things started to fall into place and I felt secure again, the phone calls waned. I regret not maintaining that habit and eventually becoming less involved in their lives.
3. Not recognizing the value of a job that doesn’t require a degree.
Just because you have your degree in hand doesn’t mean you’ve made it. Nothing will be handed to you and the bills will still be there (and you’ll be handed a few more bills upon graduation too, trust me). One of the best things I did this year was waitress full time. Waitressing taught me 1) The true value of my degree. This allowed me to treat waitressing as a temporary means to an end and not look at it as the rest of my life, which trust me, adds to your peace of mind. 2) Hard work pays off, but you have to actually work hard. Waitressing straddles the awful line of being so tired you want to cry because you just worked a double and haven’t eaten, sat down or peed in 12 hours and being so happy you want to cry when you look at the wad of instant cash in your hand. It didn’t come easy. 3) People will treat other people like shit whether you’re a 22 year old waitress with a college degree in your back pocket or the manager of a restaurant or inheriting daddy’s money. It doesn’t matter. People will always be assholes. Waitressing taught me to have a two second rebound rate and carry on; and surprisingly, I’ve applied this to other places in my life, too. I regret not coming to these conclusions earlier and waiting until I felt the desperation of the 6-months-since-I-graduated moment before admitting I wasn’t too good to get my hands dirty.
4. Getting so drunk you lose a day of your life to the hangover.
Seriously? You’re not in college anymore. It’s not ok to be barfing all day and barely making it off the couch. I regret every single time this has happened to me since I graduated college because yes, it has been more than once. Get your shit together.
5. Not admitting I’m 22.
I’m not saying I lied about my age – I just had a twisted conception of what it means to be 22. 22 means a lack of responsibilities. 22 is the need and the want to still learn so much more about life. 22 means energy. I work two jobs for a total of 60 hour weeks (minimum) with ease. I get 4 hours of sleep after going out on a Wednesday and function perfectly fine the next day. I choose to work two jobs so I don’t get bored. Literally that’s the main reason. That’s because I’m 22. It’s what we do. I regret feeling old for having graduated college before realizing how freaking young 22 is. Yea, I’ve had more responsibility than I’ve ever had in your life but it’s waaaaaay less than what is to come. Enjoy it.
6. Losing confidence in myself.
This, above all things, is my biggest regret. I hate that I lost confidence in myself when things didn’t go my way. I regret that I lost sight of how many good things I have in life – friends and family who love me to no end. Health. Intelligence. Youth. A college degree. And above all, opportunity. So much opportunity.
Now that I have it back, it’s what I will never lose again.
Cheers to 23 :)
This post was originally published on Thought Catalog.