Last week, I caught up with a friend who is also my colleague, client and mentor. We talked about so many things and I always leave our long overdue catch-ups feeling inspired to achieve and to think about new and better ways of doing things for my writing and for my business.
We discussed why women find it so difficult in their twenties to make big decisions for their careers and how many twenty-somethings are happy to hold on to their lowly jobs and put up with more than they rightfully should.
From my personal perspective, I believe my twenties were shaped by the insecurities that I was plagued with during my high school years. I spent my teenage years desperately trying to fit in. I wanted to conform, not stand out and I made decisions based on what I thought would suit those around me rather than considering what I actually wanted. I wanted to be liked and to be cool and to fit in. I was afraid of rejection. It was exhausting!
|So young! I was only 17 or 18 here|
If I was to ever able to go back in time and meet my teenage self I would tell that little girl that even though it doesn’t feel like it now, your teenage years are such a small part of your life. Study hard, and do those things that make you happy no matter what anyone says or thinks. Focus on achieving because you really are very capable. Stop pretending and just be YOU! Stick with those friends who treat you right and ditch the ones who don’t. Make time for everyone not just those who you think are cool. There is a world of people out there who will love you for who you are so don’t waste time with those who don’t.
In my twenties, just like my teen years, I did not know or understand my own self-worth nor did I have the confidence to back myself. But during this time, even though many, many mistakes were made I was also busy learning life’s lessons. Lessons that have helped shape who I am today.
|Me and my dear friend Adele celebrating her 21st birthday!|
I have some stinging memories of my career when I was in my early twenties that I wish I had have handled differently. But hindsight is always a wonderful thing. Throughout my career, I have been involved in client relationship building which has included event management on both small and large scales. There was one occasion where I was so proud of myself for getting front (and centre!) row tickets to a concert for one of the management staff and their VIP client. I had never heard of this singer (and I still couldn’t tell you who she was) but the ‘One Night Only’ show sold out in a day so she must have been pretty popular.
The Monday following the concert, I passed by the Managers office and asked him how his evening went. I was stunned and completely taken aback when he told me that he was disappointed with the seats I had arranged for him because they were too close to the stage. He and his guests could see the caked on make-up, the deep wrinkles and the sweat on the singers face which completely spoiled the illusion. I couldn’t believe it! I had no words to such feedback but politely obliged when he suggested that in future, I see him with the seating chart before booking tickets. Sheesh!!
Another horrible memory is when I organised a prestigious banquet at the Art Gallery of WA. On the day of the event, I was busy at the venue overseeing the event company and the caterer with set-up. My immediate manager also came to make sure everything was going to plan and she flipped out when she saw the set-up crew bringing in plastic chairs to the venue. She confronted me and considered this to be a catastrophic oversight on my part. Even though these chairs would be elegantly covered, didn’t I know how important some of these guests were and how they couldn’t be expected to sit on plastic chairs? I immediately went to the event hire supervisor in a panic asking him if they could change the chairs to something more comfortable. He looked at me like I was a nutter and reassured me that these chairs had been used for many 5-star events around Perth and that no one had ever complained about them. Plastic chairs are easy to transport and the covers were custom made to fit. I went back to my boss with this information but she was still not satisfied. She sent me on a mission to the nearest Clark Rubber store in a taxi to purchase some foam.
Anyone who thinks that marketing and specifically event management is a glamorous choice of career should picture this: me in my suit on my hands and knees on the floor of the Art Gallery using a broken Stanley knife to cut foam circles for 10 chairs so that some important people’s butts wouldn’t have to touch the plastic. I was so humiliated and when I think back to this scenario, I can not believe that I didn’t stand up for myself. That I was not able to back myself and assure my boss that the room would look amazing and that no one would even know or think about the chairs being plastic. I did understand how important some of these guests were but seriously, none of them were the Queen or any kind of Royalty for that matter!
The Monday after the event, I received many complimentary emails from staff and other guests who attended the function. In hindsight, I should have forwarded these emails to my boss so that she knew what a great job I actually did. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Now that I have over 13 years experience in my field, I know my worth, I know what I am capable of and I know what I will and won’t put up with. A couple of years ago, I had a client who was very difficult to work with. The final straw was when he phoned me in a rage because he believed that I had spent 15 minutes more on a project than I should have and that I was ripping him off. I reduced the invoice accordingly to keep him happy but when he asked me to do some more work for him, as much as the money and the experience would have been great, I politely told him that I was unable to assist.
This learning and growing in terms of my career, I believe can also be transferred to relationships. I spent some of my teen years and early twenties in an on-again off-again relationship with an absolute idiot. He wasn’t violent or abusive but he was selfish, inconsiderate, jealous and very undeserving of me. When I think back to the antics and behaviour that I put up with, all I can say is that I was so insecure and it was a huge ego boost for me to have someone like him, (a bit older, more worldly, confident and cool) wanting to go out with me. I didn’t feel worthy of him but really, looking back on it all, he shouldn’t have felt worthy of me.
It took me a while but I finally came to see that he wasn’t confident – he was cocky and full of himself and underneath he was far more insecure than I ever was. I am so glad that I finally saw him for what he really was. It is such a shame that it took me so long to figure it out. In my defence though, throughout our time together, I did see glimpses of the nice person that he could be but I shouldn’t have been so stupid to think that these glimpses were enough. In hindsight, I wish I had have known my own self-worth and dumped him there and then when he flirted with my friend right in front of me at my work Christmas party. But at 15, I didn’t know. I was only starting to learn about all this stuff. I had lots to learn and figure out. Again, hindsight is a wonderful thing.
I don’t believe that turning 30 has been a scary thing. In fact, these years have so far been the most rewarding and enlightening.
|I am now in my thirties|
Now that I am in my thirties, I know what I want, what I will accept and most importantly, I know who I am. I have learnt valuable lessons from the mistakes I made in my twenties and I have grown so much in my career and as a person. It is a great thing. An exciting thing. I look forward to achieving and experiencing more of life through my career, my friendships and my relationship with my husband and children in the years to come. Bring it!
Loved this Suzanne, just last night my friend and I (both in our early 20’s) were discussing ‘life’ and how at this stage everyone seems to be giving us various advice and telling us what to do etc etc yet we both reached the conclusion that at the end of the day we just have to figure out who we are, what we want to do and what makes us happy. Hindsight is always wonderful though 😉
Thanks again, love the blog.