Dear 22-year-old me,

Remember how much you felt like a prisoner in high school? Well get ready for post-grad life because all of that time-management, hustle-study-sleep-workout schedule finagling and work-life balance stuff you taught yourself in college is about to go out the window.

That’s right, you’re going to be forced to show up at 8am on the dot and permitted to leave promptly at 5pm when you literally race your colleagues out the door to catch the first train. Regardless of how much or how little you do, you’ll be stuck in a desk, or walking to the restroom or cafe from your desk, from 8-5, daily, at least at your first job in the “real world.”

But don’t worry, you’ll find other ways to make money and feel fulfilled— doing your hobbies! Just like you did as a spin teacher at Miami of Ohio. You’ll lose a little sleep over teaching 5am classes before work, but your passion for helping people will overshadow the dark circles under your eyes.

And that’s the thing, for a little while you’ll feel like you’re leading a double life—your fun, side-hustle and social life portrayed on IG, and your Monday-Friday life which includes but isn’t limited to heels, tight fitting skirts, pointless sales calls, annoyingly dry small talk and whispers about your side-hustle to that one work friend who follows you on instagram.

Just own it. Try to mesh the two even more than you were doing back then when you trusted your gut to tell people about your passions and invite them to train with you. Keep reaching out to those who are paving the way of the portfolio lifestyle ahead of you and yes, you should ask for that raise.

Remember that time when you were tipsy on a yacht in Miami, Florida on senior year spring break? Yeah, that was when your future boss called you two hours later than the scheduled call time to discuss your upcoming salary. You told a (white?) lie about another company offering you a base salary of $40K, and that although this company was only offering a six month contract, that you still wanted your base salary to be equivalent to $40K, not the $14K proposal they’d given you, with options to make more with commission. Mom is always right; you have to have a strong base salary in sales! Ask and you shall receive. Keep daring to ask!

And that’s the thing you’re going to have to keep doing in your twenties: asking questions and owning who you are. The more they know about you and what you have to offer and who you know, employers may find value in you for other reasons. So show up, talk about the uncomfortable, “maybe off limits” subjects like your side-hustle(s), dating, books you’re reading, etc. and don’t be ashamed to shine as your brightest self.

There’s going to be a point when you feel as though your IG life makes you seem disinterested in your actual “real job,” and who could blame your employer for thinking that! But keep showing up to everything you’ve put on your plate and they’ll see it as having a multifaceted and very interesting employee. If however, you’re posting things during work or not working when you should be, that is another story. Be honest, stay honest and bring up the things you care about, at the right time/place.

Love, me

Nobody told me that I’d get an offer to leave my first job two months into it; worse, everyone told me that when you land a job to stick with it, don’t leave. But it’s all about the story you tell and the doors you can open, so don’t worry about silly rules! And if you feel stagnant in a role, start looking. When I remember back to my first two months in the real world where I felt like a prisoner, I am mad at myself for even staying for two months! Your life needs to be more interesting; your job should challenge you.

I always thought there were strict rules that I had to follow, clothes I had to wear, images I had to upkeep, but the thing is: you’ll only thrive when the rules you’re following are aligned with your soul and your clothes fit your spirit.