I have a few things on my mind about the whole adulting thing I’d like to share. As with the few articles I write, I’ll break them down into categories as much as possible.
Adulthood comes as a shock for us millennials. From having everything provided for us from childhood till undergraduate studies, it is a rude awakening some of us experience from national service and afterwards.
There’s an expectation that we should have figured everything out for our lives as soon as possible. If you have cool parents, you hear the question “So what are your plans?”. If your folks are not cool too, they just cut you off. No funding, nothing. You’re expected to move out and figure out life.
This brings an immense pressure to be successful right off the bat. I personally cursed myself for not starting an entrepreneurial service while in university. Finding jobs is hard enough and then becoming painfully aware of some expenses one never had to think about poses another problem.
We lose and make friends and some old relationships die out. Loss is a necessary part of growth unfortunately. We need to figure out how to discover ourselves and remain true to the philosophies we develop.
I am still figuring everything out, but I will share the nuggets of wisdom I have found along the journey of coming of age.
Okay. Here we go!
PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIPS & WORK
- Let’s face it. You are not going to land your dream job immediately after coming out of school. The few who do are the exception and not the rule. You’d most likely spend the bulk of your 20s in jobs you don’t like. Rather than just sulking and hating your job (believe me I know how that feels) take it as an opportunity to learn. There are new skills and ethics to learn anywhere you find yourself. It doesn’t matter what you did in school and what class of degree you were honored with. Your talents could take you elsewhere. There is no friendly fire in the field of work. Get all the experience you can from your current employment. This would prove invaluable in your future endeavors. Never pass up on an opportunity to learn and improve because you “don’t like” your job.
- You don’t have to be rude with everybody you don’t like at work. You must attempt to be polite and well-mannered even to the most inconsiderate clients and colleagues at work. That way you earn respect even among rivals and potential enemies you make. In the event you leave your workplace it can earn you good recommendations from whoever you worked with and for before.
- Work is work. You don’t have to like your job to be good at it. It is important to know that your workplace isn’t always a place to have fun. It is where solutions to problems are solved. Keep your head down and put in your best output. A haphazard approach to your job jeopardizes your referrals in the future. You never know when you need a good word from your employer even if you do not intend to work for someone in the future. When you are at work, be professional.
- Look out for internships. This is a great way to get a potential employer to build trust in you as well as hone your skills and improve yourself.
- If you are going to start your own business, then you need to have a well thought out business plan. Make enquiries about starting a business and its obligations and ramifications. Befriend people who are already in the industry. Learn from them as much as possible. If you are looking for sponsorship make sure to write a business proposal you can present to potential investors. No one is going to put their hard-earned money into pipe dreams. They only invest in works in progress. It is not enough to talk about your ideas. Put them to action. Start something. Only then will the bank rollers take you seriously.
- Entrepreneurship is no boat ride. It is hard even financing yourself. There are many pitfalls which come up on a daily basis. Forget the illusion of working for yourself motivational speakers sell to you. You must be prepared to shed blood and tears for it. Ideally work a couple of years and cultivate the level of professionalism you need to successfully run your own gig. WORK BEFORE YOU START YOUR OWN BUSINESS! Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur.
- Do not be afraid to fail. It is an unpleasant experience. Most Ghanaian businesses are never heard of again because they failed and never got back up. Failure provides an opportunity for evaluation. It is only a fool who never learns from his mistakes. I am yet to see a baby who has never walked simply because it stopped trying after falling many times. When you fail, do not give up. It is that indomitable nature which will keep you and your business up in trying times. You must temper this with pragmatism though. Some ideas are bound to fail from the get go. Be practical in whatever you do, and your windows of failure would be reduced somewhat.
- Passion is overrated. It is no longer good enough to simply just love what you do. Do not make pointless sacrifices if you are not prepared to plan and learn and relearn and unlearn. Nobody is in your corner except you. You must work hard and alone, and it could take years, even decades to be fully successful. If you understand all of this, then remember; The only competition you have is with yourself.
- Creatives wake up! The real world of creativity does not wait for you to come up with ideas in the comfort of your own home. The beautiful work you spend months leisurely doing in school now needs hours to do from concept to execution in the real world. Do not be lazy! Learn to think on your feet and cut out “trendy” designs for clean and practical ones. You need to temper your flair with a didactic approach when you are doing work for a client. You are commissioned to solve a need not show off your creative skills. A job well-done is where the client tells you and pays you off, not the opinion of a fellow creative on how “unreasonable or clueless” the client might be. Remember, be professional even if they are not.
- Keep an open mind. You are not the repository of knowledge in your field. Do not argue out mistakes or unduly criticize any motive unless you understand it. Accept corrections and ask for a second opinion on assignments you are tasked with.
- When working for a client, assume they do not know what they want. Most of the time that is the case. Use your expertise to make the best suggestions as to what they need. Don’t be too focused on how much money you are going to make off them. Focus on excellence and success will chase you pants down.
- Reputation is everything. As I have already mentioned in bits and pieces, be known for professionally good traits. Be on time for work. Have a cordial rapport with everybody. Be polite, except in extreme cases. The way you approach your employed job is the same way you would approach your own pet project. So take care of your reputation.
Money. It slips between your fingers like water through a basket. We like spending a lot, especially on things we do not need. Clothing, airtime, chilling, miscellaneous needs. When the parental bank closes and we have to rely on ourselves then we realize that money is necessary for a lot of things.
- Everything you need should fall within a budget. Work around your income sources and know what you need so you can plan for it. Always leave room in your budget for unexpected expenses.
- Cut down on spending. If something you buy is not going to impact you positively then you do not need it. Cut down on unnecessary calls and social media you do not need. You do not need to go out every weekend or be at the top of the trend market.
- SAVE! SAVE! SAVE! Once again SAVE! The truth is your first salary is so meagre you basically have to live paycheck to paycheck. There is an unspoken rule however that if you don’t have at least twice the amount of money you have in your account to buy something, then you can’t afford it. Make ends meet. Eat from home, cook. Remind yourself “there is rice at home” if you are tempted to spend money you are saving. Saving for rainy days will help you when they hit.
- Aside from your savings, invest in treasury bills and fixed deposits as a way to grow your finances. This is very helpful if you are saving towards an objective.
- Learn about pension schemes and insurance. Insurance companies will be more than happy to provide you with information on their schemes. Your parents are also an invaluable source of knowledge when it comes to finances. Speak to them and older people. They would give you a personal story of their experiences.
SELF DISCOVERY & PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS
We get into university and tertiary institutions with very idealistic approaches. When the reality hits however we lose certain parts of ourselves and the people connected to them. Self-discovery and growth is like that. Change is constant. We must embrace it. We tend to underrate the value of personal relationships as young adults a lot. We are not discerning with our choice of friends and partner so most of the time we are left clutching straws.
- Take care of yourself. Eat right. Exercise your body. Challenge your mental faculties. It is necessary to be healthy and be in shape. This impacts positively on the rest of your life. A healthy and fit person has pretty good self-esteem. Watching and reading educational material also exercises your mind. Go for a spoken word show. Read a book. Have a healthy debate on a topic. You are responsible for yourself. Go for regular medical checkups. Seek professional help if you feel mentally unstable or depressed. A healthy mind and body reduces the likelihood of ill health. Learn to cook. When you cook you have an intimate understanding of the processes you go through to nourish yourself. It also has the added benefit of cutting down on expenses.
- Keep your faith. If your religious faith is very important to you, then be sure to abide by all its tenets. You can’t choose what you like about your religion and leave some parts out. Read your religious books and have a personal understanding for yourself. Spiritual enlightenment will always keep you out of the hands of charlatans looking to prey on vulnerable people. If you are not a religious person, you need to stick to your personal philosophy nonetheless. An amoral person is not a lawless person.
- Groom yourself. Keep your appearance neat. You never know who you might meet. From your clothing to your hair and breath, always look tidy as much as possible when you are in public. A slovenly appearance means people wouldn’t take you seriously.
- Be responsible sexually. Use protection and try to keep as few sexual partners as possible. AIDS is still very real. Antibiotic resistant strains of usually curable sexual infections are also cropping up. Hepatitis and HPV (Human Papillomavirus) infections as well as Herpes are other non-curable sexually transmitted infections most people do not know about. Use the morning after pill or go get the regular contraceptive pill if you want to hit it raw but don’t want to have a baby.
- Talk to your parents. They are also human beings like you, not monsters. When we become adolescents we often get off on the wrong end of our parents’ challenges and arguments. When we become adults, they give us more leeway than we usually think we do. You won’t find out until you have had a conversation with them. Parents are surprisingly warmer than we give them credit for. After all they were once like us.
- There are NO fake friends. There are different levels of friendship. We tend to have very few friends close to us. Most of the times we are just acquainted with a lot of people we share specific interests with. Sometimes we invest so much time and resources with people who honestly don’t see us in the same way. In male relationship circles, trust is small and only earned after shared experiences and recommendations. This does not mean you should cut people off. Even rogues have their uses. It is necessary to remain cordial even if distant. Keep your circle of friends small and your acquaintances big.
- Be responsible on social media. Do not unnecessarily antagonize people online. As much as possible keep your social media footprint as low as possible. Have fun and do not take everything too seriously. Be cordial and do not post anything you wouldn’t want your employees and close friends and family to see online.
- You are entitled to an INFORMED Don’t talk about what you don’t know. You will only look like a fool. If you don’t know, keep quiet and observe. Google is your friend. A quick search will make you look like the wisest person on planet earth.
- Be polite. Even when people come across as jerks and silly, remain in control and polite. Some people suck at first impressions. I know. I am one of them. Do not use unfamiliarity as an excuse to be rude. Unless you are hard pressed to get out of a situation just be firm but polite about your refusal. It is not polite to air people as well.
- Keep an open mind. In a confusing age of gender fluidity and sexual orientation, it is important to keep an open mind and respect other people. The fact that someone might be gay does not mean he or she is an abominable creature. It is not your place to question their motives or “convert” them. Just avoid unsavory topics you would rather not broach with them.
- You are not entitled to anything. You are not going to get the best of everything. People will be rude to you and ignore you. You would feel left out of things. You would feel alone sometimes. This is when you need to understand your nature and believe in yourself. This sounds contradictory to the first few points I may have made earlier. Your faith is not a guarantee of anything. Do not go shoving it down other people’s throats. People will love you more for your personality than your faith.
- Learn to be socially pleasant. As an introvert there is nothing I want to do more than flee crowded places most of the time. With time however I have become something of an ambivert. Simply by being pleasant and making conversation rather than speaking only when spoken to, I have been mistaken to be outgoing on a couple of occasions. Social conduct is a skill anyone can learn. Don’t be rude in the name of being introverted.
- Your partner must be your friend. I know for us males, sometimes we set out to “hunt” and run girls so they can be our girlfriends. This ends up with having romantic connections to someone who barely knows us and vice versa. In this turbulent decade, it is prudent to get to know your partner and be friends who can talk about any subject other than yourself. Relationships are built on trust. This trust is fueled by friendship and camaraderie.
- People will come and go. It is hard to keep positive memories of people after having a falling out. It is important to remain cordial even when you don’t want to. Let the past be the past. There is nothing you can do about it. Look forward to the future and better relationships.
- Spend time with yourself and appreciate your own company. Self-evaluation is very important if you are identifying your strengths and weaknesses. Assess yourself. Take note of negative habits. Work on them. When you know yourself, and appreciate and work on your flaws, no one can make you feel inferior ever. You are your best friend and your worst enemy.
SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITES & PRESSURE
Coming of age means that you would be expected to take up certain roles in your religious faith and social circles. They also come with their own pressures and expectations. I would outline a few things from my experience.
- Be prepared. DON’T accept a position if you know you can’t make time for it. Organizations require professional commitments which can sometimes clash with other responsibilities. If you know you aren’t prepared to handle the responsibilities which come with the position then please, flee.
- Be professional when you are in the position. Even if you later change your mind on why you accepted the position, you need to act responsibly until a replacement is found for you. A lack of commitment can hurt future recommendations which you might require in the future. Help the team in the best of efforts you can contribute.
- Do not second-guess the actions of your superiors. They might be facing the same dilemmas mentioned in points 1 and 2. In your criticism be constructive and mindful of what you say or do. If you are not happy about certain decisions, express them in the most appropriate of ways. Organizations move forward better when all contributors are transparent.
Whew! I think I’m done for now. I can’t think of anything more to say for now. Adulthood requires responsibility. Just keep your head down and talk to your parents and you’ll be fine most of the time. Remember. E go bee.