“Ketchup is my greatest fear”

One of my favorite things to do is to go home from work or from coaching and lounge in the living room or bedroom with my boyfriend to watch our favorite shows. Wether is a Netflix series, or a Showtime, or an HBO show we just LOVE to stream in our shows and skip the advertisements. While I still find some of my TV guilty pleasures on cable (such as any of the Housewives shows or pretty much anything on Food Network) I must say that my cable TV watching is very limited. The other day, however, I made a huge mistake to tune into MTV…you know, just to see what was on. HUGE MISTAKE! I still remember the days when I was growing up in Brazil watching Michael Jackson, Guns n Roses, and Aerosmith videos. I am very thankful for that time in my life, but those days are definitely gone. As I tuned into MTV, the first thing I see is a fight breaking out at a reality show, which didn’t really surprise me because for a while MTV has been the place to go to find mindless acts. The show was another iteration of a Real World cast Challenge and the fight stemmed from a cast member chasing this girl and squirting her with ketchup, which wasn’t that bad, except for the fact that the girl that was being chased said that KETCHUP was her biggest fear and got VERY ticked off. As I approach the end of my 20’s I was saddened to see that THIS is what “the young people” are watching and I did have a moment where I wondered WHY?! WHY is MTV doing that to the world?! I got my answer by watching the clip below:

Could anyone have said it any better?! EVERYTHING in this video is SO TRUE, specially between 2:25-3:10. I AM getting scared of getting old. I AM getting scared of being totally scared of being irrelevant to pop culture. Most of all, I fear that I did not make the best of my 20’s as I should have. That takes my back to another video that I have recently watched:

“My 20’s are almost over and I have nothing to show for myself,” I feel like that sometimes…But I DO! I have accomplished some. I have earned a Masters degree, I am very close to getting a Doctorate degree, I am in a relationship with someone I love and care about, but I do feel crappy sometimes because I feel that my defining decade was spent in school and not getting my “identity capital.”  The closer to my 30’s, I couldn’t agree more with the items listed in this Forbe’s article by Jason Nazar “20 things 20 year olds don’t get. Here are some of the points I agree with the most:

Time is Not a Limitless Commodity – I so rarely find young professionals that have a heightened sense of urgency to get to the next level.  In our 20s we think we have all the time in the world to A) figure it out and B) get what we want.  Time is the only treasure we start off with in abundance, and can never get back.  Make the most of the opportunities you have today, because there will be a time when you have no more of it.

You’re Talented, But Talent is Overrated – Congratulations, you may be the most capable, creative, knowledgeable & multi-tasking generation yet.  As my father says, “I’ll Give You a Sh-t Medal.”  Unrefined raw materials (no matter how valuable) are simply wasted potential.  There’s no prize for talent, just results.  Even the most seemingly gifted folks methodically and painfully worked their way to success.

We’re More Productive in the Morning – During my first 2 years at Docstoc (while I was still in my 20’s) I prided myself on staying at the office until 3am on a regular basis.  I thought I got so much work done in those hours long after everyone else was gone.  But in retrospect I got more menial, task-based items done, not the more complicated strategic planning, phone calls or meetings that needed to happen during business hours.  Now I stress an office-wide early start time because I know, for the most part, we’re more productive as a team in those early hours of the day.

Take Responsibility for Your Mistakes – You should be making lots of mistakes when you’re early on in your career.  But you shouldn’t be defensive about errors in judgment or execution.  Stop trying to justify your F-ups.  You’re only going to grow by embracing the lessons learned from your mistakes, and committing to learn from those experiences.

You Should Be Getting Your Butt Kicked –Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada” would be the most valuable boss you could possibly have.  This is the most impressionable, malleable and formative stage of your professional career.  Working for someone that demands excellence and pushes your limits every day will build the most solid foundation for your ongoing professional success.

A New Job a Year Isn’t a Good Thing ­­– 1-year stints don’t tell me that you’re so talented that you keep outgrowing your company.  It tells me that you don’t have the discipline to see your own learning curve through to completion.  It takes about 2-3 years to master any new critical skill, give yourself at least that much time before you jump ship.  Otherwise your resume reads as a series of red flags on why not to be hired.

Both the Size and Quality of Your Network Matter – It’s who you know more than what you know, that gets you ahead in business.  Knowing a small group of folks very well, or a huge smattering of contacts superficially, just won’t cut it.  Meet and stay connected to lots of folks, and invest your time developing as many of those relationships as possible.

Spend 25% Less Than You Make – When your material needs meet or exceed your income, you’re sabotaging your ability to really make it big.  Don’t shackle yourself with golden handcuffs (a fancy car or an expensive apartment).  Be willing and able to take 20% less in the short term, if it could mean 200% more earning potential.  You’re nothing more than penny wise and pound-foolish if you pass up an amazing new career opportunity to keep an extra little bit of income.  No matter how much money you make, spend 25% less to support your life.  It’s a guaranteed formula to be less stressed and to always have the flexibility to pursue your dreams.

Your Reputation is Priceless, Don’t Damage It – Over time, your reputation is the most valuable currency you have in business.  It’s the invisible key that either opens or closes doors of professional opportunity.  Especially in an age where everything is forever recorded and accessible, your reputation has to be guarded like the most sacred treasure.  It’s the one item that, once lost, you can never get back.

So yeah, I may be freaking out a little about how fast life is moving and about how I see life a lot more like an adult than a child, but I think things are not so bad after all. Reading this article by Olivia Wilde on the Do’s and Don’ts of Turning 30 also helped me putting things in perspective. Here are her points of advice:

DON’T freak out about all the brilliant people who accomplished more than you by 30. Yes, Einstein had discovered the theory of relativity by your age, and Emily Brontë had written Wutheringfu*#ing Heights, but honestly, what you achieve is far less important than what kind of human being you are. What do you want people to say at your funeral: “Olivia may have cured HIV, but she ran over my cat and drove away laughing”? No, thanks! I’d rather be a good person who makes people happy than a dick who wins a Nobel by 32.

DO enjoy your sexual prime. Hey oh! According to horny Professor Alfred Kinsey’s 1953 page-turner Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, women really start heating up in their thirties, so let’s just say it’s finally your turn to act like an 18-year-old boy—except you’ll be 1,000 times better at…everything.

DON’T cut your face. I am so saddened and grossed out by young women who look like creepy, old aliens because of their new Barbie noses and lips. Is that a smile or a grimace? Did you melt hot wax on your face, or is that your skin? A better approach: Take care of yourself now that you’re old enough to know how. Drink water, sleep eight hours (I wish), and don’t go within 400 feet of a tanning booth or I’ll slap you. Hard.

DO travel. This is possibly the last time until retirement that you won’t be considered a bad person for booking a last-minute ticket to Morocco with friends just because you damn well feel like it. You’re old enough to know where not to go (Cancún) but young enough to feel guilt-free being entirely unreachable.

DON’T propose to the next guy you meet just because you worry he’ll be your last chance at lifelong companionship. Sure, you’ve attended more bridal showers than yoga classes in the past year, but that doesn’t mean you’re destined to be a craggy spinster, searching for roommates on Craigslist at 50. The danger with “husband hunting” is you start to see every date as a job interview (“He does seem to be homosexual, but that might be good for fatherhood!”); it clouds your ability to get to know someone.

DON’T feel pressured to pop out kids. I love kids with a passion I usually reserve for hot cheese, miniature chairs, and Prince concerts, but I feel no stress to reproduce simply because of a fear of withering eggs. Wait for the right partner, and make sure you’re where you want to be in life before picking neighborhoods based on school districts. This is not to suggest you should live irresponsibly for the next 10 years, then expect to get knocked up when your chosen dude finally sneezes inside you. But you’ll never find the right baby-maker or enjoy baby-making if you’re doing it out of anxiety. Relax, be good to your body, and when the time is right, get busy.

DO reap the benefits of your accumulated wisdom. You’re 30: You know stuff now. Your twenties were for “ducking up,” as my auto-correct would say, and learning from those mistakes. (For instance, never again will I convince myself that sleep is for sissies and go straight from a party to the airport. You will not “sleep on the plane”; you’ll vomit in the security line. Go to bed.) Now you get to live with that knowledge under your belt. Also, make it a nice belt. You’re 30. Stop dressing like a hobo.

DO learn a new skill. You’ve already lived longer than most women in the thirteenth century, so why not look at your thirtieth as a rebirth? I started stand-up paddleboarding at 29 and consider it my baby step toward becoming a badass 30-something semipro surf goddess (as long as the sharks go vegan).

And DON’T be bogged down by your past. Saturn has now orbited the sun once since you’ve been alive; make this next go-round whatever you want it to be. Consider your baggage (bad boyfriends, job setbacks, body issues) lost by the airline of life, leaving you empty-handed at your new destination with only one choice: Go shopping.

I end this post with a note of optimism. Optimism about life and what is to come and about welcoming new things (such as buying new furniture for my apartment, which is only possible because I now have a grown up job). I hope I enjoy more of my 30’s than I did my 20’s. Things are looking up tho…

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