20 People On What Every Post-Grad Must Know To Be Successful


Your 20s are an important time, as we all know. But it’s also a scary time, and one that we could all learn a little more about. So I asked 20 women in my life what they wish they knew in these 10 years, and here are the answers they gave me.

1. Caitlin, 29

“I wish I knew that all the big things I was worried about would take care of themselves. Nothing I thought was a big deal actually was in retrospect. Even in the rare case that the worst case scenario happened, it was a learning experience and it made me better able to handle other situations when they came along.”

2. Kasey, 27

“Stay flexible, always. You may want a plan and you may desire control, but you can experience the fullness of life by allowing it to unfold naturally. Allow for surprises, change in plans, and spontaneity. On the other side of that uncertain future could be something you hadn’t even thought to want.”

3. Julie, 28

“Let go of the idea of a finish line, or ever being “complete”. Personal growth is a never-ending evolution, not a finite project that can be completed. If you ever feel like you nothing to improve about yourself, that doesn’t mean you’re finally perfect – it means you’ve given up and started lying to yourself.”

4. Sara, 35

“Remember that your age is whatever you need it to be. Have fun, let loose, and don’t worry about feeling like an adult, because you’re not. And right now that frustrates you, but soon you’ll realize how wonderful it is to be in the in-between stage.”

5. Nadia, 41

“Live with your parents to save money for a while. There’s no shame in it, and 24 is just as good an age to get your first big-kid apartment as 22. You’ll be amazed at what a year or two of working and putting it all away can do for your future.”

6. Zinnia, 25

“Going on a lot of dates is just part of the ‘falling-in-love’ routine. You’re going to meet some weird people, but you’re also going to meet some great ones. And you never know where love will come from.”

7. Rachel, 30

“Roommates are an adventure — and sometimes a crazy one — but they’re also a rite of passage.”

8. Naia, 24

“When the option comes up to do grad school, and you don’t have a job yet, it’s going to seem like a perfect solution to your problems. And maybe it is. But you shouldn’t feel pressure to follow that path just because it’s one a lot of people are doing. Make your own journey — educational or professional — and be ready to adapt. Grad school can be expensive, or it can be worth it, it all depends on your individual situation.”

9. Michelle, 36

“Stop believing that these are the only years that matter. Change the mindset that automatically assumes that this moment is the only moment of your entire life. There’s a difference between living in the now and living in the delusion that everything needs to unfold within the next 6 months or you’ve failed. ”

10. Jenna, 26

“Spend responsibly, save as much as you can, and remember that it’s not really about how much money you make, but how you use that money. Your friend with the highest salary is not “better off” if he’s spending all his money on weekend bar tabs.”

11. Alicia, 28

“Show up 15 minutes early to every single job you ever get. 30 minutes early, even. Be as professional as you can in emails, even in gigs. Send thank you messages, and always show enthusiasm. You never know what job might lead to a recommendation for your dream.”

12. Taya, 32

“Keep your girlfriends around you as much as possible — especially the ones who move away. You’re going to miss them a lot more than you think, and there’s nothing that can beat the strength of a good female friendship. You need them.”

13. Elia, 24

“Chances are, if you were going to accrue debt, you’ve already done it. Worrying about it now is not going to do anything. On a day-to-day basis, forget your debt. Setup an automatic payment and go back to living your life.”

14. Heather, 30

“Don’t forget that you’re still so young, even when you’re being pushed out into the world to do something amazing ‘as an adult.’ Your commencement speakers don’t have to be in your apartment paying your bills with you, so take their words with a grain of salt.”

15. Sally, 27

“Eat your vegetables as a preventative measure, but don’t beat yourself up for that 2 a.m. pizza, either. Being kind to your body is holistic, and your 20-something old body is a resilient and beautiful machine. Give it the love it desperately needs now. That will prevent a world of unnecessary hurt.”

16. Andrea, 29

“Don’t just study abroad as your way to see the world, keep traveling after graduation. The best trips you’ll have are the ones where you can dictate your own terms, and see things as an adult for the first time. Pick the people who matter to you, and go.”

17. Zadie, 33

“Question everything you think is true about the world. Don’t let people tell you what you think you should like or what you think a successful, happy life looks like. Be curious and open to all people and especially to different schools of thought. Whether you agree or not, you can simply listen, and go on your way.”

18. Naima, 28

“Stop doing stuff you don’t want to do. Stop going to parties you don’t want to be at. Stop sleeping with people because you’re lonely. Most importantly: stop working so hard and live. I know the opposite advice is always given, but your work will grow exponentially when you actually have the time and inspiration to find new ideas. It’s the craziest thing in the world, I guess: let yourself be happy, and you’ll only get happier.”

19. Olivia, 28

“Comparing yourself to others is more toxic than early 2000s pop music. There are times where you’ll feel “behind” relative to your friends, so it’s important to remember that your end goals are probably a lot different than their end goals — and thus require different paces.”

20. Holly, 31

“Keep the people who treat you well close, but remember that you’re in it alone. Learn to rely on yourself — financially, emotionally, professionally — and no one can touch you. People shouldn’t complete you, they should add to your happiness and you should add to theirs. Be in a relationship with yourself.”