The diaries of a just barley 20-something are rarely filled with wins, success, and easy times. Instead, there’s rocky paths, winding roads, and so much fear. We are so scared of the “real” world that seems to be creeping closer and closer. Of not being enough for our bosses or ourselves. Of working with real responsibilities and paying the dreaded bills. Of speaking up for what we really want. Of the dark (or maybe that one is just me). So this rocky, windy, hellish scape leads to a lot of let downs and failures, but sometimes we succeed. The wins can be about the grandest things-- we get a job that we wanted so badly that sleep didn’t come for weeks or we pass a class after weeks of library sessions and reading every book twice. Sometimes the wins are only half a victory, it’s getting the interview for a job that you never thought would look at you twice or getting an A on the midterm. There’s still a second act. You’re ridiculously, overly happy for yourself that you did well, you passed step one. But you have so much more to do, so much more to go. There’s an act two and it’s coming, the interview will come and so will the final. Your skills will be put to the test and you might fail or you might succeed.
As one just barely 20-something to another, this is what I have learned about the halfway point and how to cope.
Limit who you tell. You’re so freaking excited that you want to shout it from the rooftops or post it on Facebook. But don’t. Of course, you should tell your family and friends and those who matter most, but you don’t have to tell anyone else. This way less people are asking have you heard about step 2 yet.
You’re going to tell someone and let them be proud of you. Let your best friend buy you a cupcake. Let your mom tell her sister (or half the neighborhood). It’s so hard for young women to listen and take compliments but you deserve it. Don’t let the possibilities of the future stop you from being proud and receptive of well-deserved compliments.
Let yourself feel something. If you’re anything like me, you may have cried in your best friends bathroom when you got the news that you’re past step one. The shock of getting something that you’ve dreamt of, especially when you’re used to the winding, bumpy path can be jarring. But don’t let it stop you from enjoying the moment and taking pride in yourself!
Don’t get off track. You did it. And that’s awesome. But stay the course. You need to study twice as hard for the final, work twice as much to prepare for the interview. Don’t let the excitement of killing the midway point stop you from making it all the way.
It’s okay if you’re scared. Fear is the most natural reply to getting something that you have always wanted or worked really hard for. You are scared because you care what happens. You want the best possible result and fear may guide you there. Let the fear motivate you keep trying and don’t let it force you to give up.
Try not to think about it. I know this seems like the worst advice ever, but you have been working hard to get the second half. Running through your answers to your interview for the nine thousandth time is overrunning your brain. Power it down and let it get a little bit of rest.
Try not to punch the person who tells you not to think about it. Keep trying to not punch them, I know it’s hard. But take a deep breath and let it out. Make your new montra “you got here for a reason”. You are where you are suppose to be. They would not have gotten where you were supposed to end up if it was not meant to be.
Step Two will come but it does not define you. One day, this whole process will come to an end. The interview will be done and the teacher will have put in the grade. And you may not hear what you always dreamed of hearing. Or you may. No matter what, although this experience will color your existences of the future, it will into determine who you are.
Learn from this. This is most important. If it went well, learn why. Learn what you did that they found valuable. If the results weren’t favorable, still take the chance to learn. Learn where it went wrong and what you can change.
Be proud of yourself. No matter what happens next, don’t let it diminish the how good you feel now. Don’t let stress over the future stop you from enjoying the present. Please know that it’s okay to say “I am proud of myself and I did great!” and don’t let anyone else tell you differently.
So, my fellow young adult I wish you the best of luck with step two and beyond. I am proud of you for making it this far and hope to see you have continued success in the future. As you rise higher and higher don’t forget to bring other women up with you and keep the values that make you who you are.