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An Open Letter To All 20-Somethings: Don’t Panic!

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An Open Letter To All 20-Somethings: Don’t Panic!

The first and most important thing is: life does not get easier. Being an adult is not easy and won’t ever get any easier. Why? Because you will face new problems as life goes on. With each stage in your life, you will learn lessons that will help mold you into the person you were destined to be. Your twenties will be where most of those lessons are learned. I suppose this is not what you wanted to read. Perhaps you expected me to come up with something magnificent and inspiring. You were expecting something intelligent that will teach you the secrets to living an easy life.

I am here to tell you that there is no secret in the world that will keep your heart from breaking, dreams from crashing, and your faith from fading at some points in your life. Your best chapters in your life will most likely be written in your twenties—you just don’t know it yet. Your heart mends, your dreams change, and your faith comes back… so don’t panic. Here are some things to keep in mind.

1. You must learn to let it be.

Planning your life down to the minute is not the way to live. You are in your twenties… you absolutely are not expected to have everything figured out, so stop acting like it! I have found that if you plan everything down to the very second, life gets even more hectic and you aren’t exactly living.

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That 10-year plan that you wrote in high school is really more like a guideline and not exactly a map to your life. It is great to have goals, but we are our own harshest critics. If you don’t get that call back for your dream job at 22, don’t be too hard on yourself. Pick yourself up and keep trying. That doesn’t necessarily mean keep calling the company that didn’t call you back either. If a door closes in your face, let it be. Keep going because there are so many other doors to knock on and the one you walk through will be the right one.

2. Forever isn’t really forever in your twenties.

This goes for every aspect of your life. This goes for what you think is a dream job, where you want to live, who you want to be with. Almost everything in your life at the moment is temporary. At this point in your life, it is okay to not be sure of what you want to be when you grow up (even if you feel as if you are grown up). As of right now, I have been a barista, served in the military, worked in a daycare, worked with small business owners to fix their credit, been a barista again, become a wedding planner, written articles for a great website, and now am planning events for one of the greatest companies I have ever worked for. Trust me, nothing is permanent in your twenties. You will constantly change your mind—and that is completely okay!

Speaking of things not being permanent, do not beat yourself up over your current “love.” Don’t go looking around for the person you are going to spend the rest of your life with at this age. If your soulmate happens to stumble into your life, perfect! If not, that’s okay. Right now, you are really figuring things out. Heartbreak pains go away with good company and laughter. Keep your friends close and you will soon get over it. Also, when your friends tell you that someone is toxic, listen to them. More than likely, they are right. If they see that the person you love does not treat you the way you should be treated and say something to you, do not ignore it. They truly care for you and only wish the best for you.

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One last note on this subject: if the person you love lays a hand on you, they do not love you. That truth is plain and simple… THEY DO NOT LOVE YOU. Stop making excuses for their awful behavior and cut them lose. You will eventually forget their phone number, where they live, and their name. Trying to fit them into your life is like you trying to fit a piece of a completely different puzzle into the one you are working on. It will fit for now, but eventually you will need to get rid of it to move on and complete it. They will only hold you back from becoming the amazing person you are meant to be.

3. Your giant group of friends will eventually become a small circle.

At this point in your life, you will start to go from about a hundred friends to about five really good friends that you can trust. Get rid of the ones that are negative all the time, get rid of anyone that says they “love you,” but abuses you either physically or mentally. None of these people are worth your time. At this point in your life, the sky is the limit, but you have to get rid of the extra baggage before you fly. I know that we all try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but if they are keeping you from growing up and getting out there in the world, you do not need them.

You will find good people out there that will want nothing but to see you happy and successful. Don’t be afraid of the world—there are a lot of nice people that will be willing to grow with you and experience what life’s new chapter has in store.

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4. Now’s the time to see the world.

It is “too expensive,” you say? Let me break it down for you, okay? Let’s say you buy a large cup of coffee at your local café for about $5.95 every single day for a year (this is excluding the second time you go there to get your afternoon cup), how much would you have? The math is $5.95 x 365 = $2,171.75. That is a trip to Mexico, Canada, another state, Europe, and the list goes on the longer you save. Travel is something that everyone should experience. Seeing the world and experiencing a different culture is an eye-opener. So get your passport ready and get out in the world for a bit.

5. Slumps aren’t only for baseball.

You will go through several slumps in life. You will accept job offers that leave you baffled on your first day. You will have some tough times financially, you will experience heartbreak, and you won’t get called back for that interview, but just think of it as a slump. This is one of the hardest lessons to learn: you just can’t be in control all of the time. Things might not go as you planned them out when you were 18 years old, but you’ve just got to roll with the punches. Your twenties are supposed to be the best part of the roller coaster called life.

All in all, these are going to be the best and worst years of your life. Do not be afraid to make memories. Don’t be afraid to go to the party tonight because of the hangover tomorrow—trust me, they get worse as you get older, so do it now!

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Dream big, smile often (even when you don’t feel like it) and meet new people so you can narrow it down to the friends that you are going to keep for life. Most importantly, you need to learn. Learn as much as you can because we are expected to make countless mistakes. So by all means, make them. You are still growing and still learning, and that is okay.

Featured photo credit: Alex/ College Graduation via flickr.com

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Margielyn Musser

Event And Volunteer Coordinator / World Traveler

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Last Updated on November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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