By Dave Coonan, Hofstra Graduate
Having only lived a mere 28 ¾ years on this planet, I won't pretend that I have all the answers, or know everything, or can drop some serious knowledge on the future leaders of this great country. But what I do know is that one day you will wake up in your late 20s and realize that you are far from the person you were in your early 20s. This is due to many factors, and it starts the day you don your cap and gown and walk across the stage.
Upon my graduation from Hofstra, at the end of my second, and final, senior year, I was a little confused about life. I left school with a degree and no idea what I wanted to do. I mean really wanted to do with my life. I had a certain skill set, an interest in a few things, and an open road (and massive college loans) ahead of me.
I started working in various places doing various jobs. In the first 12 months following graduation, I had acquired, and given back, six jobs - and it's not because I was lousy at them. I took some so that I could build my resume, some because I had no money (because the poor college student thing doesn't end right away), and some because I thought that it was exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
That is, until I started working those jobs. Then it became clear that, not only do I not want to do this for the rest of my life, I don't even want to stay here till the end of the work day. And that is called a reality check.
Some of you will come out of college and know exactly what you want to do, which is great, more power to you. You may even have a job lined up, and if you do in this economy, congratulations, because I don't know how you did it. But unfortunately, for most of you, you won't have that dream job right away. You may not even have a job right away. But don't fret, because the first couple of years should be used to explore your skills and your desires. Eventually things will start to make more sense.
And then, after a few years of scratching your head and living with your parents (nothing wrong with that), a milestone is reached in which you are allowed to do things that you've never done before - like rent a car.
This milestone is the celebration of your 25th birthday. I don't know what it is about that age - call it the "quarter life crisis" or whatever you want - but something occurs in the brain that makes you grow up. At least it did in my head, and I doubt it had anything to do with the ability to rent a car (it may have had something to do with the lower car insurance rates). Finally, at age 25, I had some idea of where I wanted to steer my life, and actually began taking steps to make that happen.
From your early 20s to your mid 20s, you escape from the bubble of college life, you gain independence, you try and you fail, and then you grow up. And suddenly, you're an adult. Then from 25 through the end of your 20s, maybe you learn a few more things. For me, I received two college degrees, got married, got a dream job, and then lost it.
I experienced a lot in my 20s. Much of the decade was a ride aboard an emotional rollercoaster. There were parts that hurt, and there were parts that were great, but overall, it's the actual ride that is the greatest lesson of all. So don't be afraid of the unknown. Don't close yourself off to any opportunity, because everything is an opportunity to learn. And that is why your college experience is extremely beneficial, because without the ability to think for yourself, be critical, and make decisions, you won't be able to truly experience the next decade of your life. Enjoy your 20s, like I did. Because in a year I'll be 30, and that's just getting old.