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What I wish someone had told me at 22

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In 2013, as I was departing as a teacher from my 10th grade students, I created a list of 50 things I had learned throughout my life. This presentation is inspired by the some of the best lessons from that list.

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What I wish someone had told me at 22

  1. Failure is a New Beginning Things I wished someone had told me at 22 -Michael Vinickas, Age: 25
  2. Inspiration This presentation is based on a list of 50 helpful bits of learned wisdom I gave to my 10th grade students on the last day of school in 2013. That itself was inspired by a similar list made by a college economics teacher I had read. Point is, hopefully someday you’ll pass down what you’ve learned as well.
  3. #1. The Real World Sucks If you worked a full time job during college, ignore this. No longer are your days conveniently scheduled around classes spread out through the day. Most likely you’re in for a 9-5 grind, not even including your commute (see #4), and some (like teachers) will end up continuing work at home. Instead of loans covering your dorm bill, you have to pay for the bills. And the loans for the dorm bill. Time now becomes a precious commodity. You’ll begin to wonder how your parents did it. Brace yourself, the real world is coming.
  4. #2. The Real World is Awesome I know, it’s contrary to #1. However, the reward for becoming a productive member of society is that you can experience it. New opportunities will be opened up to you (frankly because now you’re actually making decent money), and you’ll form new relationships with coworkers and neighbors. The weekends become something magical as Monday through Friday seems like an endless routine. Make the most of your weekends. Explore. Groupon. Just don’t waste your entire weekend in bed or on the couch.
  5. #3. Work/Life Balance You’ve got to balance your work and out of work lives. If you get too consumed by one, the other will suffer. Examples -Set aside times for your loved ones at home and try to minimize the work you do at home. -Thirsty Thursday happy hour might sound tempting, but remember you still have to be on point for Friday.
  6. #4. Make the most of your commutes Very few people will end up living where they work or within a block of it. Face it. Everybody commutes. Especially in a car, commutes can be excruciatingly maddening depending on where you live. However, they can be the best thing ever if you make them. Use your morning commute time to focus and prep yourself for the day, so you are going into work with a positive attitude. Use your commute home to distress with music and reflect on the highs and lows of the day, so when you get home you’re not bringing your work life into your home life.
  7. #5. Don’t ignore insurance! Inevitably, you’re gonna sit in some conference room with some HR rep going over all your new provided and voluntary benefits. You’ll think to yourself. I’m young. I don’t need to worry about this disability or life insurance stuff. I’m healthy! Don’t do this to yourself. It’s cheaper while you’re young and can save you or your love ones thousands in the future.
  8. #6. Listen to the people around you. There’s a new-found confidence you’ll receive one you have a college degree in hand. After all, this is the proof of all the hard work you’ve put in and the knowledge you’ve gained. I’ll admit I had this. I wish I hadn’t my first year teaching. Soak up as much as you can from your coworkers and superiors. Time and experience has taught them many things you need to learn yourself. You may have a better formal education than some of them, but they still have the knowledge that comes with experience that you don’t have.
  9. #7. Get a hobby if you don’t already have one I fence and I coach fencing. It is something I am good at and something that is not work. It is my stress valve and something that cannot be tainted by my work life. If you don’t already have something you’re passionate about, find something.
  10. #8. Keep. Track. Of. Your. Money. Enough said.
  11. #9. Don’t settle for a job you don’t like. After my first year of teaching, it was a rough year. My contract was not renewed despite all my effort and decent evaluations. I was upset with my administration who I thought had failed to support me as a first year teacher and I became disenchanted. I then picked up a job as an insurance agent. I was making bank. I hated it though. It wasn’t me. I knew I needed to be in a classroom yet it was too late in the summer to get a full-time teaching job. So, I became a substitute. Despite making a quarter of the money than in insurance, I was happy. And now, I’m on the road back to my dream career.
  12. #10. Failure is just a new beginning. No one wants to fail. It isn’t our nature. People (unless a bet is involved) just don’t wake up, look out the window and say, I want to fail today! However, failure happens. It could be a failed relationship. You get fired or demoted. You end up in a job you hate. Maybe a project you worked so hard on didn’t pan out right. Et cetera. Failure is an experience though. You can learn from experiences. What did you do right? What did you do wrong? How can you reforge yourself to become stronger?
  13. The greatest crime you can commit is failing and not learning anything from it.
  14. Pay it forward. When you turn 25, share what you’ve learned since graduating.

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