7 Things I Wished My Parents Taught Me In My 20s

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Written by Seun Oyediran

Career Change
  I wouldn’t say my parents were the most perfect or imperfect pair. But all I know and understand is that they gave me the training and education they thought was best for me. Looking back now, I realized that some of the things my mom taught me, although essential, were unnecessary at my tender age of 17. And in the same vein, I really didn’t need some of my dad’s crazy ideas about the terrible nature of humans. Bloody humans, he would call them. All that just didn’t apply to me. At least not yet. My dad experienced a lot of turmoil and had to battle jealousy even from his best friends. While that was enough to change his mindset about people and the entire world, I wasn’t ripe for that kind of sentimental thinking pattern. Of course, he didn’t mean any harm – after all, he was just trying to look out for me. And he still tries to look out for me in whatever little way he can.  Hey, wait a minute. I’m not saying that most of what my parents taught me was thrash. Neither am I trying to fit in the shoes of Socrates and act like a young sage. Far from it! All I’m trying to point out is that my parents were silent on some things they should have drummed into my subconscious mind. You know, stuff like financial freedom, mentorship, healthy relationships, and other talks like that – there’s quite a long list. Maybe they didn’t know these things, didn’t know how to tell me, or were just negligent about it. I bet on the former than the latter, though. Because the parents I have won’t hesitate to give you a piece of their mind. Laughs.  Anyhoo, I’m in my thirties now and have learned a lot about life. I’ve learned from experience – both mine and that of others – as well as books. I wish my parents or parent figures had shared some of these teachings with me in my twenties. But that’s gone now, and at least I’ve learned them – and some, the hard way. You’re here either because you’re in your twenties or close to it (either slightly below or above). Or maybe you’re in your forties and you’re here because you feel like throwing a pity party. It doesn’t matter. You’re either already a parent, will soon be one, or you’re in dire need of advice from one. And that’s why I want to share with you the seven things I wished my parents taught me in my twenties.  
  1. The Team You Work with Is More Important Than the Company You Work For
When I was about to enter the higher institution, my mom’s mantra was, “mind your own business in school, don’t make friends, and don’t talk to anybody. Face your books and study hard. You must graduate with a first-class.” She never stopped drumming this advice in my ears. And when I finally started school, I did exactly as my mother told me. And yes, I graduated with a first-class.  When applying for a job, my parents pushed me to apply for only “the best” companies. Companies that had big names and paid fat salaries. I got into one of these companies on merit, but my life was almost hell. After years of soul-draining work, I finally realized that the team you work with has a far greater impact on your career than the company you work for. The people you meet and work with has more significant implications for your career growth. Know this, and know peace.  And what’s more? I hardly had that network of friends you could put a call through to and have your problems solved instantly. I was a lone ranger and didn’t even get to learn anything from the amazing people on campus. So, what advice will I give to my twenty-year-old self? “Meet people! Form strong networks! Learn to work with teams! Learn to manage people! And never forget that your network is your net worth!”  
  1. Learn About Financial and Money Management Early; Your 30 Something-Year-Old Self Would Thank You for It
I was always reminded that money is evil in and of itself. And my father never ceased to tell me not to seek after money. And people all around me believed that financial freedom could only be attained in old age. So, I never really bothered myself on learning about multiple streams of income or how to make money work for me. What was etched on my memory is to work at my job (or multiple jobs if I had to), and save every penny I could. I never thought about achieving financial freedom early because I believed that I had to suffer and sweat to earn a decent living. My financial intelligence was zilch – non-existent. While it is good to save, saving money throughout your entire life does not guarantee financial freedom. And neither does sweat and hard work. So, what would I advise my twenty-year-old self? “Read books that set you on the path to financial intelligence. Remember that money comes to those who know how to handle it. Learn to make money work for you. And finally, learn to invest; not just in businesses but also in people.” I don’t want to ride my first Ferrari when I’m 70. Where will all the fun be?!  
  1. Build Professional Relationships and Make Friends with Ambitious People
My dad and mom would always say “stay away from friends; they will take your shine. Never tell anybody your plans, they will steal your ideas.” They were right in a way but not absolutely. To cut a long story short, the uninitiated me never got exposed to ambitious people. I was always conservative in life and business. Plus, I hardly had professional friends that I could ask questions and confide in.  While I wouldn’t tell you to always share your ideas with just about anyone, you can ask questions if you are unsure. And don’t forget to have a Mastermind group as recommended by the good old Napoleon Hill. When you stay in the company of friends who know what they want and work towards achieving, you will become a better version of yourself. And you will have fewer regrets in life too.  So, what advise will I give to my twenty-year-old self? “Instead of avoiding ambitious people, study them. Mingle with them, and let the fire of their ambition rub off on you too. Don’t forget to be a life-long learner when it comes to people. Read books about human psychology and elevate your emotional intelligence. A book I recommend is The Law of Human Nature by Robert Greene. Don’t just read it; consume it. Always remember that you’re an average of the five people you surround yourself with!”  
  1. Find A Mentor and Sponsor Early
I didn’t know the importance of having a mentor or sponsor early in life. I always had the idea that I didn’t need anyone to watch over me. I didn’t want to be accountable to anybody. I just wanted to do things my way and do what I feel is best. I couldn’t have been any more deluded. Having a mentor and sponsor(s) can set you on the path to phenomenal growth, self-improvement, and balance. Mentors help you steer your ship and sponsors help you fuel it. How far can you go without a rudder or fuel? Not far. That I can say. So, what would I tell my twenty-year-old self? “When you have people that you’re accountable to, you’ll not sleep at the wheels. Ensure that your mentor and sponsor understand your field. Share your ideas and keep an open mind for your ideas to be criticized; do not see things from your perspective alone. Attend seminars and startup programs — you can find sponsors there. And when it comes to the time to network, put yourself out there with full confidence, you may never know who is watching!”  
  1. Join a Fast-Growing Company
When looking for a job, don’t go to companies that settle for mediocrity. I didn’t realize this on time and was always in the shadows of my parents. Companies without excellent innovation strategies will only take you down with them. Find a company that’s moving like a rocket ship and not a locomotive. This will help you move up the career ladder faster. Join companies that always seek new ways and ideas to solve societal problems and make the world a better place. To my twenty-something-year-old self, I say, “Go for companies that will stretch you and spur you to grow daily and become better. Don’t settle for less; keep growing, and never remain in your comfort zone. Such a company should teach you consistency, determination, and creative thinking. Never settle for less!”  
  1. Let Your Imaginations Run Wild
Most parents always want their children to be “realistic” because they believe that if they dream too big and don’t achieve their dreams, it could be heartbreaking. I have always been a child with wild imaginations; however, they get shut down each time I say them out. My mum will say “Don’t dream too big so you won’t get hurt! What if you don’t get it? As long as you can take care of yourself and family, you’re OK!” Let me give you an example. If you’re in your twenties right now, your parents most likely don’t understand tech. But tech is the new normal! While starting a tech company may be the hardest thing you will ever do, it can be the most rewarding too. Remember, the greatest men have failed more than those that tried. If you harness the potentials of the tech company, you can strike it big! I would surely tell any twenty-year-old to live life and dream big. Let your imaginations run wild. Start a tech company: research blockchain and cryptocurrency. Keep an open mind and keep reinventing yourself!   
  1. Religion and Romantic Relationships Have One Thing in Common. 
Our parents do have our best interest at heart, but they don’t expose us to the truth of how your everyday friendships can eventually turn into a romantic relationship. If you are from a religious home, for example, you would always hear things like “stay away from boys” or “stay away from girls!” But in a few years, your parents will start asking you the “when you will get married” question. How do they expect you to suddenly have someone to marry if you stayed away from boys or girls as they advise? Or would you opt for an arranged wedding and hope that everything goes fine? Of course, not! So, to my twenty-year-old self, I say, “religion and relationships have a lot in common. The more you practice them, the better understanding of God and man you’ll have. Just as you advance in your relationship with God, you must do the same with people. Never see things or meeting people as a coincidence! Learn to value the people you meet. You never know what will come of that relationship.”  

In Conclusion

What you learn in your twenties are very crucial to the formation of the ideas that you’ll carry with you for life. But it’s never too late to learn and make change. But change doesn’t come easy. Are you ready to make an impact? Change the narrative of your 20’s now!

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