I’ve found myself battling a serious love-hate relationship when it comes to holiday sales. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems to be way too hard to get into the holiday spirit as the looming idea of gift-getting becomes more and more present. But what we tend forget is this: For as stressful as gift-getting may be, it’s truly the end result of giving that makes the chaos worthwhile. So as Cyber Monday comes to a close, I wanted to share some personal favorites, I have my eye on - And as someone who wants to tell stories about people and places, I’ve found that that these items are perfect for those who can’t and won’t quiet their inner wanderlust.
20, is the year everyone anxiously awaits for, but by the same token can’t wait to get over with. It poses the inevitable question: What do I do now? But unfortunately there is no inevitable answer, in fact there is no answer at all. As I sit here reflecting on my first year of the twenties, I look at it as a year of success and for the most part a learning experience. My priorities are not that of someone who is 20. I’ve been told I have the attitude of a Millennial but the values of a Baby Boomer… Whatever that means.
I know I’m not alone when I say a lot of the time I feel removed from the norm. So in an attempt to feel not so isolated, I’ve sought refuge in articles that have similar lists as to how one should act or what they should consider based on their age. They usually read:
"20 Things Every 20 Year Old Should Know- Smile. A lot. Friends will come and go. Love openly and freely. Take risks and have no regrets."
…Is that the best you’ve got (insert website title here)? Well, no offense but I have to call BS. On all of it.
I know that I have a responsibility as an adult to acknowledge the realities of the world and draw conclusions from what I see and from my experiences. Next week, on Thanksgiving to be exact, I turn 21. So as a a young 20-something, living and working in New York this is list is based on what I’ve seen… So far.
1. The Social Landscape - Everything you thought was acceptable changes. Innately this becomes more apparent, but topics of conversations with friends change and range from: discontent with one’s job, stress over school/next steps, personal affairs and everything in between. And dating? The struggle. It’s basically a marriage (no pun intended) of both parties’ successes and struggles and an attempt to navigate through them, in order to make one another a priority.
2. Priorities - Continuing with this idea, I’m not saying to have everything together completely, because let’s face it age is just a number when it comes to this type of thing.. But I am saying try to manage your priorities and expectation starting in the early twenties. It will lay a strong foundation for both your personal and professional life.
3. Identifying yourself as a certain type of person… “My name is Rachel Schwartzmann and I’m typically x, y and z.” Don’t do this, now more than ever I’ve learned this is a period of personal growth, and don’t deny yourself the right to developing into the best version of YOU. 20, is the starting point.
4. Emotion vs. Reason - I’m all for freedom of speech and expression, but as we get older we really need to tone down on the emotion and start using those nearly-developed noggins (the brain is finished fully forming at 25!). Journeying into adulthood is never easy, but the sooner you learn to rationalize things rather than overreact, day to day life looks a lot less negative.
5. Using 20 as a shield - "Don’t tell me what to do, I’m 20 now.” vs. “Don’t blame me, I’m only 20 now!” You can’t have your cake and eat it too. You’re an adult now, own up to your mistakes and ask for help when you need it. It’s that simple.
6. Have the foundation of a plan - I used to be one of those people that had a 5 year plan that I vowed would never be broken. But life has a funny way of giving you what you want in a very roundabout way. 10 years ago I moved to New York and began training as a pre-professional dancer. I attended a performing arts high school and found myself interested in what the fine artists were up to, which reignited my interest in fashion, which lead to the beginning of The Style Line, which lead to the creation of an emerging business… Who knew? If you can have the mindset of having a plan, you’re already on the right track as far as discipline is concerned… But the plans themselves? They change at a moment’s notice.
7. We solve problems with words not Facebook/Twitter Updates… Those are made up of words, yes I know but we have an awfully bad habit of posting our every immediate thought for the world to see. Express yourself via social media to an extent, but know when to draw the line. I’ve seen a lot of insensitive comments and things I feel I shouldn’t know, but do because of this. 140 characters can do more damage than you think.
8. Try to begin to understand the world around you… Stretch your mind beyond the confines of your personal interests and comfort zone. Try to have some understanding of things happening in regards to the bigger picture. Look at for what it is…
9. …And then challenge it. Life calls for change. It’s not always welcome or accepted, but at the end of the day it’s necessary. It’s OK to ask questions or disagree with the norm. But depending on what it is exactly, make sure you’re as well informed as you can be.
10. “No New Friends" I have one thing to say: NO. Don’t get me wrong I’m all about using rap lyrics in everyday conversation (YOLO) but adopting them as my life mantra is another story. The world is built on movement and change - As a 20 year old, this is the constant. I’ve met so many people who only trust “their” childhood friends - Or once they do find their “group” that’s it, the gates are closed strategically making themselves unapproachable. How could you not want to meet new people when the world tells you to keep your finger on the pulse of things? To stay current, you have to stay inspired. To stay inspired, you have to surround yourself with what’s new all of the time and people are included in this. Don’t give yourself away all at once but say YES to new friends. You never know how much they’ll change your life.
11. Unplug - Something I need to work on myself, moving forward. I’ll put it simply, this is probably the most cliche point on this list. But rather than documenting, experience a moment. You may even get lost in it.
12. Remove deserve and replace it with dessert. Another observation made about my generation is that we are supposedly all entitled. And I’m sure we all can admit to being a little into ourselves - There’s nothing wrong with being proud right? But, it’s important to remember that no one really deserves anything, there is always an element of give and take. So the next time you say something outrageously narcissistic or so naive that you feel like you should have just swallowed your words… Vomit them back up and then swallow them again. And then swallow something sweet. What better to replace that discord and bitter taste in your mouth, than indulging in a sweet treat? Dessert. Fixes. All.
13. Master The Art of Choice - 20 is the year of impatience. You’re older, but not old enough to enjoy what the rest of the 20-somethings are up to. If you can learn to choose how you feel about what you can and cannot do, you’ll open yourself up to a totally clearer mindset about how to make the best of things.
14. Appreciate what was but, accept (and try to embrace) what’s coming - No matter the age, we all get nostalgic. 20 is transitional age, and you’re essentially entering a new chapter of your life. It’s important not to dwell, but to seek out new opportunity and potentially start over. Life is a series of do-overs anyway, you adjust to the situation, but move on to someone or something that’s new. You can’t always see it coming, but you know at some point it will.
15. Think beyond the #SELFIE - The 20’s are said to be the selfish years and to an extent I agree, I think your twenties belong to no one else, but you. However, as you embark on your personal ventures and fulfillment, remember the people that helped guide you and are there for you now. Maybe the next time you stop to take a #selfie, use that energy and send a text to someone you love instead… And if you really want to go the distance, maybe even CALL them… Ooooooh.
16. Edit your life, like you curate your tumblr dashboard - Think about it. Do you like what you’re seeing on your dash? Of course you do! YOU CHOSE to follow all of those people because you value what they have to say or show and the minute that changes, you simply “unfollow” them. While it may not be as easy as a click of a button, the same idea applies to the real world. You’re 20, and starting to have more freedom than you’ve ever had, if something in your life isn’t’ as beautiful or doesn’t’ make you as happy as something you see on your dash, take steps to change it and don’t waste anytime. Unfollow. Block. Delete. *poof*
17. Be Nice - There is a very strange misconception that rude or elitist attitude will result in more respect. But no not really, it just makes you an !@#$%. Yes still talented, but an !@#$% nonetheless. With virtue, there is value.
18. Open Up - The world we live in makes it hard to trust - Trust other people, ideas, dreams and even yourself. If you can try to open yourself up to people and the idea that at the end of the day, you’ll be okay, you’re already winning. Open yourself up to opportunity and even if it’s not what you expect, at some point it will manifest itself into reality.
19. Get to Know Yourself - This is open to interpretation, and it may sound corny but yeah you’re definitely allowed to begin soul searching. I think the twenties are a good time to establish independence on all fronts, especially socially. Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you have to go out and party every night with friends. It is OK to have solitude and do things on your own. Besides you can’t really take care of another, friends or significant other, until you learn to take care of yourself.
20. Stop. Stop. Breathe and collect yourself. Understand that the norms society sets for you isn’t written in stone. You are who you are and you do what you need to do at your own pace. You have time.
Looking at the social state of my generation I’ve come to the conclusion that everyone makes the idea of happiness so much more complicated than it needs to be. There is a vicious cycle of general mistrust, misguided priorities and misplaced energy. So what do I say to this? Open yourself up to the possibility that although many obstacles may lie ahead, there are people willing to cheer you on, even if from the sidelines.
Society seems to only give us options that are in favor of the extremes, when most of the time situations are not do or die. They are not sink or swim. If you can be flexible in your thinking, if you can meet someone half way and if you open yourself up to all of this and more…
It’s been about 3 months since I’ve made the jump from fashion blogger + college student to full-fledged online business owner and entrepreneur. It has without a doubt been the most invigorating, exhausting and downright scary period in my entire life. I am seriously surprised (and thankful) I haven’t developed an ulcer… But it doesn’t mean I haven’t gotten anxiety and haven’t gotten sick. I’m sure I’m not the only one whose mind and body are so much in sync that it can sometimes cause detriment to physical health… Am I right?
I assume most of you follow me because you’ve taken an interest in how I approach and curate fashion/lifestyle and that you have some interest in my personal story. Well unfortunately I have to say this loud and clear: The world we live in has created a very competitive business landscape. As a result it takes a certain kind of approach and thought-process to truly claim your stake and maintain it. While this sounds discouraging, I always look at the number of restaurants, storefronts and other small businesses I walk by on the street everyday. Corporate or not, I always think: "If they can do it, why can’t I?" And I live in New York, not exactly a place that makes it easy to get a bang for your buck.
If you’re my age or close in age - When you take this leap to start a business, you have no choice but to grow up. And grow up rather quickly. You have entered the shark-tank, and you need to understand the kinds of challenges you’ll be facing and understand that they will come out of left field. From my experience so far, this is what I gather:
Things to consider:
ADJUSTMENT PERIOD: No matter how relieved you may feel that you no longer have to deal with the anarchy that is a student-teacher relationship, believe me there will still be a total adjustment period. The structure you have grown up with and once loved and hated (don’t lie, it’s nice to know where you’ll be, who you’ll be with and where you’ll most likely be heading… There’s nothing wrong with appreciating a sense of security and routine.) You are still going against the grain. No matter how removed you may feel from your school community, there is no stranger feeling than realizing you have completely removed yourself from your entire age demographic. When your peers are reviewing for midterms, you will be reviewing your business model. This doesn’t mean you’re fully formed as a human or that you’re better than them. But even so, no matter how similar you are to your friends, the differences in lifestyle will reveal themselves and this may present challenges. Just remember: At the end of the day, 20-somethings still have a lot to learn no matter the circumstances.
RESOURCES: Emotionally. Physically. Spiritually. Financially. Occupationally. Do you have them? I would say it’s important to have at least 3/5 or if possible all of them. You are entering the unknown and it’s important to have something to fall back on in case things don’t go according to plan, which realistically they won’t… Trust me on this. But it’s OK, because that only means there is opportunity to redefine your goals and to grow. If you have these elements in your life, then you have the basis for a strong foundation outside of your work. I’m learning more and more everyday how important it is to be in touch with yourself and your realities. And you are not weak if you look to outside resources for guidance. It is okay to ask for help.
THERE’S A CHANCE PEOPLE WON’T GET IT: Chances are, if you’re taking the risk you really are passionate about this project and believe in it more than life itself. Hopefully you’re also thinking realistically about the longevity of this venture. This is good, you’re on the right track and more importantly you’re excited about this. Naturally you want to share this with friends, family and industry peers. Despite their approval and support, there is a chance people will not truly understand your decisions. I openly acknowledge the fact that when I talk about what I’m doing with The Style Line, there is a big chance when I turn my back people may be expressing doubt or discontent with my choice… Don’t let this influence your motivation or reasons for continuing on this path. Remember why you started.
PROCEED WITH DILIGENCE, BUT DON’T STOP DREAMING: When we think of business in the modern age, it almost seems to have a negative connotation: We look at businessmen (and women!) in movies as being money- obsessed, greedy and conniving, stopping at nothing to make that final sale and not having the (excuse my language) balls to swallow their pride and admit when they’re wrong. Makes for a pretty good antagonist right? And you may totally roll your eyes at this section because business is something I’m still not insanely well-versed in, technically speaking…But one thing I’ve learned about business, thus far is that it is a true marriage of art and information. It is also seems to be organized trial and error. It takes just the right amount of logic and creativity to cook up something amazing… Yes, focus on numbers, but try not to obsess…That’s only half the fun. Keep dreaming, because at the end of the day that’s what makes it human.
THE POSSIBILITY OF “FAILURE”: This is on my mind more then I’d like to openly admit. From the research I’ve garnered thus far, the general consensus is that most ideas and start-ups don’t succeed… At first. But in the spirit of optimism, you’re a thinker and a doer. So think about it: How do you define success, but more importantly how do you define failure? You’ve already made it this far, and have made the decision to live life on your own terms. Why not reinvent the meaning of what it takes to fail? I always like to think back to the expression, “Experience is what you get, when you didn’t get what you want.” More and more I’m believing that as long as you’re trying, there really is no such thing as failure. Things may go wrong, and get messy and you may go through periods where you feel like giving up… But as long as you don’t, you’re still a player. You’re still in the game.
LET IT OUT: Be discouraged, disappointed, cry, scream, whine and say: “F*CK THIS, FORGET IT, I GIVE UP.” Get the temper tantrum out of your system because this kind of attitude will only cloud your judgement and it’s SO important to not make decisions when you are emotional - This is something I’ve learned how to harness over time (because I am so ancient and wise.) You are allowed to be upset and express it. Get it out, regroup and when you’re calm think about the appropriate next step to achieve resolution. I also recommend consulting with other team members and seeking a second opinion. But remember, at the end of the day no one knows your business better then you, and you do what you need to do to preserve it’s worth and it’s integrity.
Admittedly this list is derived from my need to emotionally word-vomit about the current stresses I’m personally dealing with. I am not an expert or a career-guru and YES I am still heavily relying on my outside resources to survive day-to-day. But believe me when I say, I am most aggressive when I’m in pursuit of my dreams. You wouldn’t know that about me at first glance, as I’ve been told I come off as shy and even introverted… But that’s the beauty about taking these kinds of chances: You ultimately reveal things to others and to yourself that you never even knew you had inside of you.