The question of what do you want to be when you grow up used to be one of the simplest. A doctor. A lawyer. An actress. The president. Fast forward to your young adult years, it is possibly one of the most difficult to answer. Trying to find happiness, love, purpose, friendships, passion for your career can all seem like incredibly overwhelming tasks.
Enter the brilliant Allison Trowbridge (@alliebridge). I stumbled across her book, Twenty-Two: Letters to a Young Woman Searching for Meaning. A collection of letters written to her 22-year-old self. It has received mass praise and has been listed as a New York Post "Must-Read" (for a good reason!)
Allison was kind enough to do a fabulous and very timely Q&A as graduation is rapidly approaching...she is incredible! Twenty-Two coupled with Barneys, Bergdorfs & Bill$ will be the gift your daughters, sisters & friends will forever thank you for...buy a copy for yourself while you're at it!
Q: Your book Twenty-Two is, in your words, a book of letters dedicated to a young woman searching for meaning. What was your main goal in writing this book?
A: I wrote the book I needed when I was 22 -- looking for wisdom and direction about my vocation, impact, relationships, and living a meaningful life. This book would have been pivotal for me in those years, and I hope it has that impact for young women journeying through that season today.
Q: Many, beginning in the teen years and continuing into their 20’s, are trying to discover who they are and their purpose. What was your biggest trial from these times in your life and how did you cope? How did those struggles make you stronger?
A: There has never been a more incredible moment in history to be a young woman. At the same time, there has never been more pressure to do it all, be it all, and have it all. I've struggled (and still struggle many days!) with feeling overwhelmed by these pressures. What's changed my perspective has been realizing that the journey is the destination. When I realized we never arrive, it allowed me to live more fully into the present process.
Q: On the career front, what was your biggest worry upon college graduation?
A: I volunteered with an anti-trafficking organization my senior year, which lead into them asking me to join the team. My biggest worry was literally having no idea what I was doing. I was making it up every single day, and this would keep me tossing and turning all hours of the night. I wish someone had told me then that everyone makes it up as they go! That would have relieved a whole lot of stress.
Q: Young adults, men and women alike, face societal pressures during certain ages. Concerns over the “right things” they need to be doing whether that is relationships, knowing what they want to do career wise etc. What are your thoughts on a one-size fits all time clock?
A: What's so exciting about today's career landscape is that the ladders have become jungle gyms (as Sheryl Sandberg puts it) and there really is no one-size fits all model. For young people graduating today, their dream job ten years from now probably doesn't exist yet! This can be both terrifying and totally invigorating. It means you should pursue whatever you're most passionate about, and allow the road to unfold before you--in time.
Q: There is an innate fear of making the wrong decisions: changing jobs, dating or not dating a certain person, going back to school, moving to a new city etc. What is your advice on crossroads such as these in life?
A: My mom says that when you don't know what to do, you should just do the next right thing. It's easy to get overwhelmed with the gravity of life decisions -- I do! But all you can do is take them a moment at a time. And trust your gut! If you know, deep down, that guy's not the one for you or that job offer will eventually steal your soul.... well, you know what to do.
Q: Your book contains the wisdom you wish you had access to when you were 22. While we’re still so young, why do you think we have this internal stigma we should have it all figured out?
A: This digital age is incredible because we know so much -- but sometimes we know too much. We see everyone else's highlight reels day in and day out, and we feel like we're constantly missing out and not living up to our potential. We also live in a world that values youth to a fault, which leaves us feeling like all of life's journey must happen now, and we need to look perfect while doing it. I think the antidote is authenticity. We are all in process, and we're all going through hard things. We just need the bravery to be real with one another.
Q: As you have been through the growing pains of navigating adult life, when did you realize you had reached a point where you felt you were able to write this book and help others along their journey?
A: I always say that this book is wisdom I've received, not mastered! I'm still learning these lessons and am very much in process. But I felt a conviction that this book needed to exist, and I reached a point where I couldn't not write it. It was the hardest thing I've ever done, but I'm so grateful it's now in the world.