Ah, to be a bright eyed 20-year-old again. I was still in University, and would be until I was 25, but that's because I was getting two degrees and one of them happened to be a Juris Doctor. But at 20, working my way through uni, I thought you could just "get" a job. Just mosey on up and get hired at will. I thought that all the work I was doing then (internships, working nights in hospitality, and weekends in retail) was work I would never do again, after 25, after I graduated. But I was wrong — and boy, did my expectations about work change in that short five years.
And now, another five years have passed, and my expectations have once against changed completely. Doe-eyed wonder has been replaced with healthy cynicism. Not everything works out the way you planned, and yes, your career isn't going to be the cake walk you might have assumed it would be. You will change. The world will change. The job market will change. And so your expectations will change too. Whereas at 20 everything feels "possible" and you're idealistic, you might lose a bit of that pep in your step when you start to experience the real world. It doesn't mean you're not enthusiastic about work, it just means that your expectations about it are different. Here's how your job expectations change between 20 and 25:
1. You Realize You Might Still Have To Work In A Restaurant
When you're 20, you think all the service industry jobs are just to pay your way through college or university. Not so, my friend. By the time you get to 25, you'll realize that you might have to keep pulling those night shifts while you apply for day jobs. There's no shame in it either: as my parents always told me, all paid work is honorable (as long as it's legal, because I don't think they really wanted me to be a drug dealer).
2. You Stop Expecting To Walk Right Into Your Dream Job
When you're 20 you kind of have this idea that you'll finish studying and walk right into the perfect job. At 25, you'll know that this isn't always the case, and that finishing studying doesn't mean finishing learning about your field, and that work experience is sometimes an uphill battle.
3. You Realize That Even Your Dream Job Is Made Up Of A Lot Of Little Boring Jobs
Even if you are lucky enough to get your dream job at 25, you'll find out something about jobs you didn't know when you're 20: there's a lot of boring sh*t you have to do, even in the most exciting job. Your expectations will change accordingly, to accommodate all the emailing, invoicing, organizing, and general busy work you'll have to do at work.
4. You Start Expecting To Change Your Mind
When you're 20 you think you know everything. If you're 20 and reading this you'll be thinking, "OMG, no, I'm not like that," but saying that just proves that you are, because when you're 20 you're always right. Trust me, I was 20, and I'm not ashamed to say I knew everything back then. When you get a little older you'll start realizing you don't know everything, not even your own mind — and when it comes to work, you'll expect to change your mind, and even your career, many times going forward.
5. You Accept That Things Might Take Longer Than You Thought
There's a time in your life when you snap your fingers and things happen. That's called being 20, and it's because the things you want aren't really that big. A burger. The cute boy in your lecture. A job at the supermarket. A meeting with your lecturer. Life is easier (even though you don't realize it at the time) when you're 20, and things happen fast. At 25 you'll start to realize that especially when you're relying on other people, things happen slowly. Whether you're waiting on something at work, like a report or a contract, or trying to get a job, your expectation will now be that things are slow.
6. You Don't Expect To Get Where You Want To Go On Merit Alone
I don't know about you, but when I was younger I thought I'd just succeed at work based on being good and smart. The older I got, I realized the less that has to do with anything. Sure, hard work often pays off, but being in the right place at the right time and ingratiating yourself with the right people are equally as important (sometimes more so, when you're going for a job) than having a great skill set.