5 Things I Learned Between College and Now

In April, I was asked to give a speech to sophomore college students at UNO. I would like to share a shortened version on my blog for other small business owners. I hope you find it helpful. – Grace

1936256_232979913732209_5062532331175311865_nHad you said to me just one year ago that I was going to start my own business, I would have said, “no way!”

My path to this point hasn’t always been smooth. For the last five years, I have jumped from job to job without finding any real satisfaction or success. I was broke – a lot. I made mistakes, both personally and professionally. And I took a few risks that ended up paying off.

Millennials sometimes get a bad rap. I hear words like “lazy,” “entitled,” and “self-centered” used to describe my generation often. But I don’t think that’s always true. I walked across the stage at graduation, and then out into a tough economy. So did my peers. But I think it all depends on how determined you are to get to where you want to go. I took the hand I was dealt, learned some lessons, and got to where I am today.

Here are the lessons I learned:

Your path might not be exactly what you think it is going to be.

And you should do your best to accept or prepare for that. Have you ever heard the saying, “we make plans and God laughs”?

Well in my case, it was true. I thought that, at 27-years-old, I would be a news anchor, that I would be married, and that I would own a house. All of that has yet to happen for me, and that’s ok! I had to be flexible and trust that His plan was better than my plan. And it was. My life is – in many ways – better than I thought it would be.

Roll with the punches.

Trust me, life might hit you hard. But it won’t kill you, which means it only makes you stronger!

You have to get back up after a setback. At the beginning of last year, I had just broken up with a boyfriend. Ten days later, I lost my job. On top of which, I had roommates that I hated. I wanted so badly to just give up. But my cousin, Kelliann, sent me this quote: “Sometimes the bad things that happen in our lives put us directly on the path to the best things that will ever happen to us.”

Had I given up, I would have missed a few really good things that happened to me. In 6 weeks, I had found my dream job, met a really nice guy, and I was moving out of the house I was living in. Your path can change in the blink of an eye, and if you get “knocked out” you might miss the good stuff.

Find your cheerleaders!

I didn’t have very many friends in high school or college. My hometown is substantially smaller than Omaha, and I never really felt like I fit in.

But I always had my family. I am the oldest of five children, and my parents have been married for almost 30 years. My mom used to say that we weren’t allowed to pick on each other because home was our sanctuary – the one place we all felt truly safe to be ourselves.

I know not everyone has the blessing of a strong family in a safe, loving environment. Which is why I also had to build a network of other small business owners, girl friends, and people who always make me feel good about myself. That being said, though, they’ll also tell you when you might be making a mistake.

And if the person that does these things best is you, be your own best friend. Be your own cheerleader.

Get your degree, but if you already have it, keep reading and learning.

A college degree is so important, even if, like me, your career path doesn’t go as expected.

Every job I ever applied for required at least an associate’s degree. So I wouldn’t have had any of these opportunities if I didn’t have my degree. I once had a professor tell me that there are two things that are important after you graduate from college: that you have a degree and that you are willing to learn how to do the job. I see now how true that is!

Do not put it on social media if you don’t want it to be found. Ever.

Luckily, I never lost a job because of this, but I know people who did!

It’s also important to realize, that your Facebook friends are only sharing what they want you to see. Every single person on this planet will have a set back at some point in their life. But putting it on social media won’t help you get through it. And venting about it may cause you to have more problems later on – employers have Facebook too, after all.

My path after college is far from what I expected it to be. But so what? I rolled with the punches, picked myself up when I failed, and I was always true to myself…even if that meant I was the only one cheering for me. No matter what setbacks you encounter, I hope you have the backbone to look for the next opportunity.

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