I was recently linked to an article titled The Brain on 23 by Molly Sprayregen on the Huffington Post, and as I was reading I had such a profound reaction that I felt like I needed to form some kind of response. My instinct was to write a quick Facebook comment back, but I didn’t think that would make enough sense or allow me to fully express myself on this subject. I’ve been feeling a little blue and uncertain about my future, and just this week I decided to put those thoughts to rest. I watch a lot of Marie TV, and she recently said something that really hit home:
“Clarity comes through engagement, not through thought.”
It’s a thought I think everyone in their 20’s or those in a position where they feel unsure of themselves should consider. At the very least, this is a response on how I want to feel as a 23-year-old.
Response to “The Brain on 23”
We are the 23-year-olds of Generation Y, and we are powerful. We are the ones who fight conformity with every fiber of our being. We’re more than a statistic; we’re influential, and we’re not afraid to tell those who have come before us to stuff it. We don’t rest easy at our 9-5 desk jobs, because we’re multi-passionate, and we realize now that working towards a dream-oriented career is not out of our reach. We are the ones whose parent’s encouragement or our own ambition has pushed us to pursue higher education, weather it’s in the form of working towards a formal degree or working less than luxurious jobs so we can afford to travel the world. We’re English teachers in South Korea, Peace Corps volunteers in Peru, and trusted educators of Teach for America, not just because we’re searching for our way like every generation of 23-year-olds before us, but because we know we want to impact the world in a positive way while we do it.
We’ve been through heartache, loss, and desperation – we know what it feels like to have one-night stands, or drink so much that our entire weekends are ruined. We know those aren’t feelings we want to repeat, not necessarily because they’re unworthy of experiencing, but because they simply take up too much of our valuable time. (We might not always succeed at prioritizing over the prospect of a wild night, but we’re on our way to finding a balance.)
We are 23 and we know the value of time; we’re the first to demand that ours be taken seriously. We hold ourselves high as professionals, no longer filling the role of squirmy intern or know-it-all president of [fill-in-the-blank] society, but as forward thinkers who are vital to the growth of organizations bigger than ourselves.
We have graduated from drinking watered down beer to skillfully crafted lagers with names we respect. In fact, we might even know what kind of food to pair our drinks with, and we have Pinterest to show us how to cook it; we do a mighty fine job. We are fighting our way through the midst of suppression, because what company wants to hire a recent graduate that can’t prove themselves worthy? You better believe we can.
We are 23 and the days of uncertainty about graduation and what would come after are behind us – thank god. There’s no more sitting on dorm room floors dreaming about landing the perfect job, or happy hour with the best co-workers in the world. We’re out there, we’re working, and we work hard. We know there’s no such thing as the “perfect job” unless we create it ourselves. We know things aren’t just handed to us on a silver platter, because even those of us with fathers and mothers who are still be willing to support us, realize that sometimes it’s necessary to break up with our parents in order to chase what we really want.
We’re sitting in our grad-school classes absorbing every word dripping off our New Venture Planning Professor’s lips because we feel it in our hearts that we can build empires with our knowledge. We have power. We have drive. We have ambition. We didn’t consciously make the choice to commit to another $50,000 loan just to zone out as we discuss economics, because this is our future.
We are 23 and we take responsibility for our choices. We realize that they affect people in more ways than we can imagine and that we owe it to ourselves and to our communities to make a difference. We walk down the street of our respective cities, proud of the fact that we had the balls to move here in the first place. We are not passive participants in our lives, we are activists, and achievers, and fighters, and strugglers, and hustlers. We know that paying your dues does not mean wasting away where our talents are under-used and over-abused, but rather committing to pouring all of our youthful energy into companies we believe in that heighten our strengths.
We worry, but not out of a lack of ambition, drive or direction. Our uncertainty comes from knowing there’s something bigger, better and more fulfilling out there for us, and this feeling of fear is one we must overcome to get what we want and deserve. We own our potential, and we aren’t too shy or too proud to shout it out to the world. We do not settle for mediocrity or the idea that the only worthy careers to pursue are medicine and law. We know the power of marketing, and we know that it’s not about trickery or brainwashing, but about building a human experience meant to help those around us.
We’re innovators and trendsetters. Technology does not frighten us; we don’t stress about machines taking over our lives, because they’re the very things that can save us. We depend on devices that appear from the surface to remove us from reality, but on a deeper level unite and globalize us in a way humanity has never been able to experience before. We meet friends and potential lovers through social media and dating sites because we realize that Mr. or Mrs. Right probably isn’t waiting around the corner. We’re not ones to wait around for opportunities, we grasp them with firm fists. We know the only right way is not our way, and our own culture is not the only one we understand and respect.
We are 23 and we might not have all the answers, but we’re sure as hell not letting anyone stand in the way of figuring them out.