What I Wish I Knew When I Was 18

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This is going to be a long answer. It will most likely be a very unpopular answer and many of you will completely disagree with me, but here goes:

I never liked school. I wasn’t built to learn in a classroom. It took me seven years to graduate college because I was so bored with school that I skipped a lot of my classes. I finally graduated with a communication degree because after five years I went to the school counselor and said, “What major will get me out of here the fastest?” And communication was the answer.  From the day I graduated, I have never had a traditional or corporate job. I always wanted to learn how people run their own businesses. I wanted to get as much experience as I could so I could one day run my own business. I used to have my diploma hanging in my office, but I took it down a few years ago because every time I looked at it I thought to myself, “If I could have started teaching myself through experience at the age of 18 instead of 25, I would be so much further along in my business.” For my own personal experience, college slowed me down. 

I wholeheartedly believe there is not a university on this earth that is equipped to educate you properly in communication and marketing in the world we live in today. If you are going to college because you want to be a doctor or an attorney or a teacher or some other occupation that requires a degree, then that is understandable.

BUT - if you are going to college to learn about business, I think you’re wasting your money.

I talk to people every single day that are pursuing a completely different career than the degree they acquired, yet they  have boatloads of student debt. The truth is a college or a university is a business and the education they are selling you is a product. I think in many cases the product they are selling is a crap product. And here’s the kicker - you are required to pay compounded interest and you can’t declare bankruptcy to get out of it. We call that extortion. 

When my parents were growing up, college WAS the way to a better life, but we live in a much different world today. The problem is there are still so many people who have been engrained with this thinking that they continue to push college onto their own children without really stepping back to see if college is really the best route for their child. People are still very narrow minded when it comes to college education. Like I said, I barely went to class so I feel pretty confident with the following statement:  The skills I use today and the skills that got me to where I am today did not come from college, they came from the experience I received after college. And I don’t want to go into a lot of detail about this, but I’m doing alright for myself. 

If you want to learn about business and about marketing, then consume everything you can from people who are actually doing it today and doing it well, not from professors who are teaching an outdated method. 

Be really honest with yourself about why you are actually in college? Ask yourself why you are pursuing the degree you are pursuing? Is it because of expectations from your parents? Truth: This is YOUR life, not theirs. Is it because you want the title “Dr.” in front of your name because you think people will think you are something special? I have news for you. No one cares. They really don’t and the sooner you realize this and the sooner you start living your life for you, the happier you will be. 

So let’s say you graduate college (or you never go to college) and you’re anxious about what’s next. Here’s my advice for you:

Most people have no idea what they want to do with their life. This is normal. This is perfectly ok. In fact, I think it’s completely absurd to expect any 18 year old what they want to do with their life. They haven’t even had a chance to experience it yet. Don’t be stressed out with figuring out what’s next. The truth is, you are entering the greatest decade of your life. The next 5 - 10 years is a gift of a window of time for you to learn. Take your twenties and try new things, travel, and explore. You absolutely cannot get clarification without experience. You think you want a corporate job where you wear a suit every single day? Go try it. See if you like it. You’ll learn real quick if you do or don’t. That experience will give you clarity and you’ll be one step further to finding your purpose. This isn’t about getting the job your mom and dad wants you to get. They’ve already lived this part of their lives. This is YOUR turn. This is the time to use this window to attack the life you want to live. You don’t have all the baggage. Sure you may have student loans (financially hard) or the expectations of your parents (mentally hard). Most of you aren’t married yet, don’t have kids yet, don’t have the responsibilities of a mortgage and preschool tuition, etc. Rent an apartment with four people and eat ramen noodles because you CAN and because this will allow you to experience and try new things. Travel and learn. This time is all about risk. If you want to be a chef, go work in a restaurant. Dreamed of being in a band, start one. Right now, you can afford to. You can experience during the day and work at night because you can put in the hustle and the grind at your very highest level. People in their 30s, 40s, and 50s have a much harder time doing this. They have kids with soccer practices, etc. They have responsibilities which limit their time to go out and experience. This is where that saying “youth is wasted on the young” comes into play. Don’t waste your youthful energy. You will regret it later in life. This is YOUR time. You only get one life. How do you want to spend it?

At the same time, don’t be naive to how hard real world work is. Don’t be upset when success doesn’t happen overnight. I can guarantee you it WON'T happen overnight. Be patient. Work hard and try new things, but do this with realistic expectations. You are not going to become a billionaire like Kylie Jenner at the age of 19. You haven’t put in the time. You haven’t put in the work. You have to remember, her mom is a business genius and Kris Jenner spent decades building the framework of their marketing business. The work that went into Kylie becoming a billionaire was anything but an overnight success. 

Don’t overthink the jobs you take. If a job doesn’t feel right, don’t overthink quitting it and trying something new. If the first one isn’t right, it’s not the end of the world. If you studied to become an attorney and after a year of practicing law you are absolutely miserable. It’s ok to try something new. You only have one life and work takes up a lot of that time. No one cares. No one is really watching you like you think they are. Try something new. Don’t look at it as failure. Look at it as experience you received. Clarification you now have. Wouldn’t you rather gain that knowledge and clarity in your 20s?! Nobody cares if you have four companies on your resume in the first couple of years out of college. Nobody. Employers don’t care as much anymore about the degree, they care if you can get the job done. Hustle, hard work, experience, and dedication will win over some fancy degree every single time.

This is the time to set yourself up for a meaningful life. This is where you begin to adopt the behaviors that will carry you through the rest of your life. Please adopt the right ones! Don’t choose one job over another just because it has a signing bonus. Those few thousands of dollars might seem like everything to you, but trust me when I say it doesn’t mean a thing. This time in your life isn’t about money it’s about trying, failing, learning, and adopting good behaviors like confidence. Confidence is everything. Do whatever you have to do to work on yourself to grow confidence in yourself and in your ability to do life. Train yourself to be so confident you no longer care what anyone else thinks about you. The truth is it’s none of your business what someone’s opinion of you is. The faster you learn this, the faster success will come. 

Be grateful for everything you have. Approach every single setback, mishap, or problem by asking yourself, “What am I suppose to learn from this experience?” And then learn the lesson. Because life will keep throwing you those problems until you learn the lesson. If you can learn to approach problems as learning opportunities, you will be happier and you will grow so much faster. Be grateful for what you DO have instead of being envious of what you perceive everyone around you to have. Every second you spend thinking about what somebody else has is taking away from time that you could create something for yourself. 

And finally, do things that scare you. Step outside of your comfort zone. If you choose to not do something because of fear (especially fear of what other people will think about you), you’ll never be successful. 

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Welcome to the blog

Hi! I'm Jessica Zimmerman, top wedding planner and floral designer.

Born and raised in Arkansas, I’m a proud wife and mama to a 5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old twin boys. A true believer in freedom, flexibility (and of course, incredible flowers), I’m wholly devoted to creating a life I love to live every single day–not just on the weekends. From travel to business to weddings, this blog is full of features designed to inspire other busy mamas (and businesswomen) to make a living from their passion without giving up their lives.

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