When I was 22, I was working for a horrible, horrible boss in an office without windows. Between rent and college debt, I had $15 (yes, really) of disposable income per week. Even though I knew my life wouldn’t be like that forever, I had a really hard time imagining a future that didn’t involve ramen noodles and Sunday night oh-god-I-have-to-work-tomorrow stomachaches.
In an attempt to show you guys that really, it gets better, I asked some of my favorite, most successful ladies to share their stories of life at 22 versus their life now.
Life at 22
At 22: My boss would take credit for my work, had unrealistic expectations and made me cry weekly. I spent every chance I could hitting the town with my girlfriends…crossing our fingers that guys would buy us drinks – we certainly couldn’t afford our lifestyle. I lived with my best friend in a tiny yet adorable apartment that was in a shady part of town.
Now: I own my own business yet still manage to put unrealistic expectations on myself. Now I spend every chance I can traveling or relaxing on our patio. My cocktails no longer require flirting although my husband appreciates it! We live in a 1920’s home in a quaint neighborhood. Life is simpler…and most importantly, happier!
At 22: I knew I wanted to write smart things about gender and social issues, but I didn’t have the foggiest of how to go about it. I took a day job doing communications work for an NGO and spent my evenings running a youth media organization with a bunch of friends, including the guy who would later become my husband.
Now: I’ve written a couple of hundred articles for most of my favorite magazines, newspapers and websites. I live in London, and have traveled to 12 countries in the past two years. Right now I’m working on a book on sex, power and identity for Simon and Schuster and Penguin.
At 22: I was working in a bar for a gross boss who would hit on a different waitress every shift. Although I made decent cash, I hated waitressing and never having a weekend to myself. I lived in a tiny bachelor apartment in a neighborhood I wasn’t crazy about.
Now: I love what I do! I can put in a lot of hours but it doesn’t feel like WORK. For this I am super grateful. I live in my favorite neighborhood in a city that I am at most 20 min away from the sea.
Karina Cousineau, dress designer + business owner
At 22: I was living on Bali in Indonesia working for S.L.I.I (space island light industry) My job was head of production for a small apparel company. Not speaking Indonesian was challenging, but slowly slowly I learned. The people were generous and joyful. It was a wonderful learning experience!
Now: Some years later, my life is similar in many ways. Heading design and production for my company Karina Dresses entails many of the same type work. Our Brooklyn production house does not require me to ride a motorcycle through streets filled with cows, chickens and village activity: Similar tasks are required and the streets of Brooklyn can be equally hectic. I lived at the beach on Bali and now live in a jungle in Brooklyn – both are full of life and exciting!
Dr. Danielle Dowling, life coach Los Angeles
At 22: I was working as a buyer for Bloomingdale’s in NYC. And it really wasn’t my bag. The cubicles, constant number crunching and corporate pressure choked my soul. I remember running out of money on the Wednesday before payday and rummaging at the bottom of my purses and desk drawers to find change for a coffee!
I lived on the 5th floor of a 5 story walk up with 3 other roommates and a dark bathroom that was clearly was once a hallway closet. I also distinctly remember loving a boy who despite his best efforts, broke my heart.
Now: I am 35 years old with a Master’s in Psychology and graduating this December with a Ph.D. I own my own company, Danielle-Dowling.com, where I help women leaders balance professional success + love. I am part relationship expert + part spiritual ass-kicker. My spacious one bedroom is bright + airy and all mine! Although many a day and night I share it with my gem of a boyfriend + loving soulmate, Jose.
At 22: I was working at my Dad’s office as a receptionist. Boring! Don’t tell my Dad, but while I was sitting there answering the phones I was secretly doing all the research and making plans to open my first business. I lived in a basement studio apartment that had the most adorable pink depression glass knobs. I loved that kitchen. Oh yeah, I also got dumped by my first love. That was heartbreaking.
Now: I work for myself and I run four different businesses! I have the most beautiful 2 year old son who makes me laugh constantly and a husband that I am head over heels in love with. We go on fun beach vacations every year for my birthday which I love. I own a real house now! No more basement! Although I do still think about those pink knobs…
At 22: I was living with my parents, working in a well-paid but not overly stimulating university job. I’d just started dating a gorgeous boy, I was acting in a few plays and had just started a blog called Smaggle.
Now: I’m a freelance writer, presenter and actor. I live in a bigger city, I’m still with the gorgeous boy and we now live together in a funky loft in a trendy suburb. My blog contributes more and more significantly towards my regular income and I’m dangerously close to being 100% self employed. I’m also slightly taller.
Readers who are older than 22! Share your stories!
P.S. If you want 1-on-1 help and support making your life look + feel the way you want, I do that!