Truths about careers in your 20s no one told you about

  • Take jobs that even if non-glamorous (or unpaid), lead to "identity capital"
  • Our strong friends are usually too similar, and often don't know any more about jobs or relationships than we do
  • True interconnectedness rests on reaching out to weak ties that make a difference in our lives even though they don't have to
  • Claiming a career or a good job isn't the end; it's the beginning.
 Similar friends are great to have, but weak ties will get you places you never even imagined.

Similar friends are great to have, but weak ties will get you places you never even imagined.

One story from The Defining Decade by Meg Jay that resonated with me was about a guy named Ian and his search for identity.

Ian wanted to be different as he grew up.

Whatever everybody else was doing, he would do the opposite. That's what Ian's search for glory was predicated on -- just being different than everybody so that he could feel unique. He believed that being like everyone else and settling on anything would make his life boring.

So he kept trying new things -- in his interests, his career, and even his relationships -- for fear of things ever becoming boring.

This process became like candy to the brain: giving him short term satisfaction, but never long term fulfillment.

As a type 7, (take the Enneagram test!), I learned that I tend to do the same. It was hard for me to commit to anything, especially when it came to making career decisions. I was avoiding making the decision to commit out of fear of stagnation and boredom.

If you're the same, Ian's story may resonate with you too. He chose to stop hopping around from one interest to the next -- instead, he chose to commit to the interests and hobbies that he liked the most at the time and craft his story around them.

This was not a permanent choice that locked him into one career.

It was simply making an effort to get really good at a couple of things instead of being mediocre at everything.

Ian learned that it's better to just make a choice, and rock with it. That's what I love about his story and what makes it so actionable to me.

For most of my college years, I thought that I could just muster out an engineering degree -- but simply learning about engineering and not actually engineering, was not what I liked doing.

That's why for the next few years, I've committed to digital marketing, blogging, and video production. Not that any of this will make me rich one day, but this is what I like doing.

To reverberate the point from the beginning of his story: claiming a skillset, career, or a good job isn't the end; it's the beginning.

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Write in the comments below something you want to do, but have not committed to and why you haven't. I'm really interested in what people have had struggles with.