Career, Opinions, Self-Improvement, Vanessa Tai

Coping Strategies for the 20-something Working Adult – Vanessa Tai

As working professionals, we are forced to grapple with stressful situations daily, but many a time, we feel like we haven’t quite shed our adolescent selves … the one that’s tempted to sweep everything off our desks and declare, “Screw this. I quit!” Sometimes, we may even look up in the middle of some menial task, and wonder to ourselves, “Is this all there is? Whatever happened to my life-changing, golly-gee-whiz-awesome career?” If you’ve ever felt forlorn about your job or career journey, you’ll know what I mean.

Back when my friends and I were still bright-eyed undergrads, we used to spend hours dreaming of our fabulous careers. One wanted to be a successful PR director, another wanted to be a war correspondent … and me? I fantasised of being an award-winning creative director (feel free to laugh.) However, as we all know, real life is rarely how we envision it to be. Over the five years that I have been working, I’ve gone through extreme career highs and lows, taking me to places and situations that I couldn’t even have dreamed up. And you know what? I wouldn’t have had it any other way. All these experiences have taught me many important lessons such as humility and perseverance, traits that are relevant to both work and life.

The following situations are experiences most 20-somethings would be familiar with. At times where nothing seems to be going your way, take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. Others have gone before you and succeeded, and you’ll definitely ride through whatever crisis you’re experiencing right now.

1. Having your work thrown back at you

"Make changes AGAIN?!?!"

“Make changes AGAIN?!?!”

How to deal: Don’t take it personally. Yes, of course it sucks to have to re-do your work after slaving over it for hours, but this is to be expected, especially if you’re just starting out in the industry. But instead of grousing, make notes on the type of mistakes your boss calls you out on, and take care not to repeat them.

2. Dealing with difficult people

How to deal: Focus on the job at hand. Even if it seems like these people are out to get you, just remind yourself of the things that actually matter; for example, the fact that you truly enjoy your job scope. When you channel your energies into doing a good job, you won’t have time to worry about petty colleagues or cranky clients. However, if the situation starts getting out of hand, confide in your supervisor or a trusted colleague who will be able to help address the issue.

3. Coping with your friends’ success 

How to deal: Remind yourself, “I am not defined by my job.” With Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, there are now multiple channels to feed our insecurities about our friends’ career success. I get it –  it’s hard to feel happy about your friend’s promotion when you’re still moping around the lower rungs of the career ladder. But there’s one thing you need to remember: there is more than one way to scale the proverbial ladder. It’s not always an upward climb. There are times where you may have to do a side-step or go a couple of steps backwards only to take a great leap forward. Just concentrate on doing a good job at whatever rank you’re in, and eventually your hard work will pay off.

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets

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