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turning25_ABeal

Combating The Myth of Having It All Figured Out By Age 25

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Sep. 10 2014, Published 7:38 a.m. ET

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As the days slowly creep in toward my quarter century, I’m taking some time to dig through my box of old pictures because I vowed to post the most elaborate and dramatic photo collage on Instagram once the clock strikes twelve on September 12th. I stumbled across my high school journal. I flipped through the pages, and skimmed over past love letters, notes and letters to my older self and I found a page titled “All the Things Alize Will Have by 25”. The title alone made me burst out in laughter as I imagined what the sixteen-year-old Alize thought she should have. On the list there were twelve bullet points and it began with having my BBA from Georgetown (I just knew I was going to be a Hoya) and ended with having my own apartment and car. I found that I successfully accomplished 60% of the list. Not bad, I guess.

The world seems to place a heavy weight on the big 2-5; “life begins” as some would have it. One thing is for sure; you get this undeniable urge to get serious about your finances and love life.  It’s when people often become focused on health, wealth and stability. The expectation is almost that on the day of your 25th birthday, you are supposed to wake up with a new and improved standard of life, you should be more serious about yourself and ready to conquer the next twenty five years. (Yeah, right.)

With guidance from my mentors and a little bit of common sense, I was able to duck this life plaguing myth. Although turning 25 is a huge deal, it’s really just the beginning.

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Patience is more than the ability to wait; it’s how we act while we wait.

One of the biggest things I have learned this year is the importance of being patient in the “meantime” and having the courage to simply keep pushing forward even if you don’t quite know where and what exactly you are pushing towards.

I left a technical recruiting company that I began working with immediately after graduating Howard after a year and 3 months, 22 days and approximately 6 hrs without warning to begin contracting with numerous companies for eight months. I apologize for the exactness of how long I stayed at that company but that only speaks to the excitement I felt the day I freed myself from my misery with the company. When I took the job offer months away from graduation I was so excited to know that I will have a job lined up after graduation and a decent salary. My fear of coming home without anything lined up prevented me from doing as much research as I should have about that company and the company’s culture. I was so concerned with not falling into the category of the “young, educated and unemployed” I settled with the first offer that came my way. I felt that everyone around me expected me to leave college and continue to do “wonderful things” and I didn’t want to disappoint them. So instead of disappointing them, I settled and ended up disappointing myself. Biggest. Mistake. Ever.

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I was so concerned with not falling into the category of the "young, educated and unemployed" I settled with the first offer that came my way.

Stop resisting your discomfort.

The 23-year-old Alizè was definitely living for everyone else.

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After the high I felt from quitting and finally being unchained from that “old boys clubs” company, reality hit and there were moments when I began to second-guess my decision to leave without having anything lined up. I wondered if I had just made the biggest mistake of my adult career. Although I wasn’t happy there, I was comfortable. I had a guaranteed paycheck every week, good benefits and I had structure. Many times throughout the course of the eight months that I was unemployed I contemplated going back to my old job. I had bills and I was too young to have anxiety and stress over which bill was most important to pay with my “cute” $700 weekly paycheck I was currently receiving from all my temp jobs. At the time I was unable to see past the choices I made because I did not understand where those choices were leading me. I don’t think I ever cried that much in my entire life.

My dad, a man who truly doesn’t believe in expressing emotions through water works, managed to sit through my weekly crying sessions, all my rants about the jobs I have applied to, all my doubts about ever getting a full time job in the field I wanted, and the fact that I wanted a new pair of shoes but my cable bill was due. Honey, even in the time of despair you can’t look as bad as you feel but I digress.

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 At the time I was unable to see past the choices I made because I did not understand where those choices were leading me. I don't think I ever cried that much in my entire life.

Don’t become so desperate you are no longer discerning.

I wanted my stability back and I didn’t know where to find it.

My dad reminded me every week not to make hasty decisions because I was in a state of panic. Although I needed a job (like needed- needed a job) he still challenged me not to take any old thing. The worse thing I could do is accept something that I knew I would hate even though it would provide me with the stability I wanted. I was at risk of putting myself right back where I started; at my old job in the same position I dearly wanted to leave. Life began to look very cloudy at times but standing still or going back just wasn’t an option.

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Life began to look very cloudy at times but standing still or going back just wasn't an option.

Prayer is a lifestyle, not an emergency exit.

So with my fears, tears, and all my prayers, I kept going. Accepting and ending numerous contract positions from teaching students at Thurgood Marshall to recruiting for Barneys and Chanel and ending up at a real-estate company until my dream job presented itself. A position at the Mayor’s office was all I ever wanted, and it came. I was truly tested this year. God kept me so uncomfortable so that I could continue to push towards where I am now.  Being stuck in my “meantime” gave me the opportunity to learn and analyze myself, to figure out exactly who I was. During this past year I have grown so much.  I can’t take all the credit; my support systems (best friends and family) definitely have contributed to my growth. They kept pushing me and forcing me to not shy away from myself. They kept a mirror held to my face so I could see exactly who I was and they forced me to keep envisioning who I wanted to become after the storm.

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They kept a mirror held to my face so I could see exactly who I was and they forced me to keep envisioning who I wanted to become after the storm.

To know me is to know that I can be pretty dramatic at times. But I have to say this year I was a “beautiful mess.” There were many things out of order in my life. The fact that I am able to share this speaks volumes to my growth over the last twelve months. The joy and freedom of being honest and transparent is extremely liberating.

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To find success learn how to embrace your “in the meantime” moments.

Anyone who knows me can attest to me living for a good quote or motivational speech. So it’s probably no surprise that I have produced my own list of motivational quotes that narrate the past year and the all lessons I’ve learned. The list and my story is to be continued but I hope these get someone else through their “meantime”

  1. Strive to be true to yourself.
  2. You always have choices.
  3. Whatever you’re doing, you have to figure out when to give out effort and when to withdraw it.
  4. Protect your ideas by keeping them private… even if it’s just for a while.
  5. Learn how to reframe failure.
  6. The only way to get what you really want is to let go of what you don’t want.
  7. Remain open. There is something bigger than you know going on here.
  8. Make no promise for tomorrow if you are [unwilling to work for them] today.
  9. What you don’t do can create the same regrets as the mistakes you make.
  10. All things have a season, and all seasons must come to an end.
  11. Their issues are not your issues.
  12. We love in others what we love in ourselves. We despise in others what we cannot see in ourselves.
  13. What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful.
  14. Love yourself enough to know when it is time to leave
  15. No one gets credit for living life beneath them.
  16. The truth will set you free but don’t forget that it might sting at first.
  17. I can’t control people, I can’t control life; all I can do is control how I respond to both.
  18. Stop finding roads that remove you from your greatness.
  19. Don’t do something because it looks right, do it because it feels right.
  20. There is really a lesson in all of it.
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