Sport, travel and bricklaying – three college courses I started and never finished by the time I was aged 21.
Each of these courses I started with tonnes of energy, only to have it wane a few months down the line.
I had a reason for every single one. Sport – it wasn’t football; travel – it was dull; bricklaying – I didn’t fancy having to build a wall in absolutely freezing weather conditions in the middle of November.
I put so much pressure on myself to find my way, and I couldn’t. I knew I wasn’t a child anymore, nor did I have the ‘safety bubble’ of school.
Back then, the world of work was calling and I needn’t have worried – and that’s what I would’ve loved to have told my younger self.
I never really gave myself enough credit. The thing is, I’ve had ADHD since I was two years old and calming my brain down every night is still a challenge – even as I write this at the age of 32!
I could put the boredom and focus down to that.
I’m now the co-owner of a profitable, growing social media marketing brand – Lets Run Social – that has maintained my attention so at the age of 21 I just needed to take the pressure off a little.
The truth is, everything will be all right, even if you don’t have a defined career path, or you want to try something new.
If you have the passion, desire and focus to do it, you’ll make it work and even if it doesn’t, who cares? At least that’s what I would’ve loved to have told myself over a decade ago. That would’ve been quite powerful to know at the time.
One thing that has changed is the ‘comparison culture’. As someone who works in social media, a quick scroll through my own newsfeeds soon fills my mind with what other people are doing.
Whether it’s feeling slightly envious over holiday photos on Instagram or reading ‘success’ stories from business leaders on LinkedIn, you begin to experience a raft of emotions.
So, when this happens to you, what do you do with that information?
My 21-year-old self would’ve instantly compared my current circumstances to theirs but today, while I’m still guilty of that feeling at times, I know I can move on from them without worrying an awful lot.
A quote I read recently struck a chord with me – ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’, and it’s so true. If you’re comparing your own successes to others, you’ll soon fall into a negative spiral and end up hurting either yourself or those in your immediate circle. Is it worth it? Not for me.
Never following the crowd is exactly what I would’ve liked to have spoken to my younger self about.
Although social media wasn’t a ‘way of life’ like it is nowadays, there was definitely a notion of me feeling like I had to be as good as other people – whether work or family.
When I was still finding out how the world worked and fresh from unfinished college courses, that’s a hell of a lot of pressure to put onto inexperienced shoulders.
I’ve spoken earlier about being guilty at times of comparing myself but the funny thing is that I’ve also never been one to follow the crowd.
Years ago, it seemed a difficult pill to swallow when I discovered that not everyone thought like me, and my opinion didn’t always match everyone else’s.
I was always made to feel this was a weakness of mine but having run my own business, I know that’s not the truth. If anything, it’s helped me make a success of my career and opened my mind up to learn from others – even if you don’t always agree.
In summary I want to focus on stuff that’s genuine and invest time in the friendships that matter to me. I have a beautiful daughter and partner, alongside a thriving business full of exceptional talent – not bad at all for someone who might be seen as a ‘college dropout’.
It always works itself out.