September 28, 1988 was the day Towana Jeralds gave birth to yours truly. Now it’s 2011 and today I am 23 years young. As I reflect on my younger years I see the numerous mistakes made, bad decisions, and wrong turns that led me to where I am now. With all the errors and shortfalls suffered, valuable lessons came from them. That being said, I also look back and notice the good decisions and successful moves that helped me get where I am. I understand that no matter how hard I try to follow my own plan and reach my personal goals, God is still in control. I understand that the best days and even the worst, worked together to drop me right where I am supposed to be.
I know that 23 is no significant milestone. It’s more of an awkward, transitional age than an accomplishment. At this age I have graduated from college, but am still fairly new to the “real world.” In all honesty, everyday is a learning experience, as it should be. I understand the feelings of uncertainty of many young people, between the ages of 20-30 (give or take a few years). I feel very fortunate to have a career and to work for an established company that is focused on growth. There are many of my peers who have jobs, but not careers; folks who are not happy with their current job but have very few options. To anyone lucky enough to be employed at this time, I would encourage you to persevere. The economic conditions are too harsh to complain about any aspect of my job. At 17, when heading into college, jobs were not an issue. I thought that everyone had a job, and figured those that did not, simply chose that option. Now, at 23, I see the “real world” and how it operates.
Another topic that I regularly reflect on is relationships. Oftentimes I find my peers focusing on the short term relations, instead of preparing themselves for marriage. Regardless of whether or not you choose to admit it, most people envision themselves being married at some point in their life. A great marriage is not something that just happens…like anything in life, the more prepared you are, the more successful you will be. If you consider marriage as a possibility in your future, why not prepare for it? Often times the women that get the most attention are the last to be claimed. Ladies, if you are being provocative and putting yourself out there, you might be the one who gets a phone call late at night, but you are not the girl that guys view as “wife material”. Be different. Be the kind of lady guys respect, so that when the right guy comes along you are ready.
For guys, it is cool to date several candidates and go after women simply for the chase, but this turns out to be counterproductive. Not only are you prone to go after the wrong type of female, but you also are creating a habit. By bouncing around from girl to girl you are creating an appetite for this behavior. And this appetite will not simply disappear once you do decide to settle down. Don’t set yourself up for failure, be different. Prepare yourself for a successful relationship.
Along with successful relationships, effective money management is something that evades us all. It seems like my generation has unlimited access to tools and knowledge of finance, but for the most part, we fail to use it. The early twenties are the perfect time to invest and start strategic placement of your money. Too often we focus on, and get caught up on disposable goods and completely forget about long term sustainability. The best thing to do in this economic environment is to get educated and to take action on effectively managing your funds.
Lastly, I would have never imagined being a parent at 23 (definitely not the parent of two). It has been the best thing that ever happened to me. Parenthood forces you to re-prioritize things in your life and get rid of immature ways (assuming that you aspire to be a good parent). At times I feel like the only 23 year old in the world, that doesn’t go out and party, but surprisingly, I no longer want to. Simply knowing that another human being is reliant on the choices I make everyday keeps my mind pointed towards family, investment, and career development. No longer am I a kid with no cares and no worries (and no bills). As I sit back and enjoy 23, my only plans are to cherish this minute. More valuable than money is time, and if we don’t learn how to manage it, we will never have enough.