6 Minute Read

5 Cringe-Worthy Foibles Every 20-Something Has

“When I was a child I spoke like a child…”

Yeah Paul, me too. I recently read a great article about things people really need to learn in their 20s and boy oh boy did it resonate with me. In fact, I mused that I could remember each moment I said or did something that was truly cringe-worthy to my future, more mature (I hope) self! It’s easy to get frustrated with the younger generation, while conveniently forgetting that we all said and did the exact same things, often with similar mindsets. I dread what 40-year old Maren will think of these posts in a few years…but I digress.

In no particular order, my 20-something foibles.

1) Thinking experience and education were the same thing.

When I worked my way up from glorified telemarketing to bylined articles at a local paper, I thought the sky was the limit. I was 22 with a shoebox full of clippings and ready to run the paper myself. Imagine my shock when someone 20 years my senior, previously from a large national paper based in our nation’s capitol, was given a job with more pay and prestige than me. I had a degree from a STATE SCHOOL! How could they NOT see that I was clearly ready for leadership when I threw a hissy fit and turned in subpar work while I pouted? <—this is sarcasm.

2) Thinking tactical skills and strategic vision were the same thing.

When someone in my department who was widely known for getting everyone else to do her work was promoted, I was livid. Pretty much everyone knew that she couldn’t design, couldn’t write and spent most of her time in management’s office brown-nosing! What a total ripoff! Everyone worked harder than she did, especially me. Plus, I needed that promotion, I had three kids and worked my buns off to get things finished every day. What I didn’t get at the time? Her reputation for being able to delegate work that would have taken her longer (and cost the company money) and never missing a deadline. Her sessions in office with the manager were figuring out how to get more work out of a team that was being spread increasingly thin. She didn’t care about garnering popularity or being liked by every single person. She was too busy being amazing at her job. If I were hiring a manager today, I’d make the same decision.

3) Thinking Busy-ness is the same as importance.

I remember leaving (nearly) every job thinking the whole place would cave in as I walked out the door. I did so many things, I had created amazing new processes, no one could build XYZ report as fast as I could. Didn’t I receive 1000 emails a day and field 100 phone calls? Who could ever replace moi? Nearly anyone and probably for less money and more efficiency. Instead of creating more tasks for myself to accomplish (hint: no one is really watching as closely as you think) I could have been helping my colleagues, building bridges across departments and learning to delegate calls and emails that did nothing to make me better at my job.

4) Hoarding knowledge.

This is a rough one. In my 20s, I truly believed that the value I brought to the table was based solely on my skills and knowledge. See, when you’re that age, you think that if someone else knows what you know, they become exactly as valuable as you and will eventually replace you. It’s a faulty thought process for two reasons: The first is that there is nothing new under the sun, you didn’t magically figure out something that no one ever thought of before and second, because it’s not your knowledge people are after EVER. It’s your work ethic, your drive, your passion, your take on things, your honesty, your integrity, your teachability, your ability to handle pressure. Knowledge and skills can be taught a whole lot easier than any of those things.

5) Competing with other people instead of myself.

I still suffer from this. It’s difficult to get over this hurdle. When you compete with others, you will always lose, even when you win. It doesn’t feel good when you get to the top of the heap but you still do it anyway. When you compete with yourself, you inevitably DO win, because you’ll learn things you never knew before and reach heights that you didn’t expect. Competing with others also drains you of any collaborative energy and doesn’t allow you to enjoy the fruits of “together” labor instead of walking that lonely road by your damn self.

Have some youthful indiscretions to share (not that kind)! Leave them in the comments, only a few people will see them there 🙂