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"When I Was 22"—CollegeFashionista's Founder's Advice to the Class of 2016

May 12th, 2016 at 2:00am

Graduation time is upon us. And even though I graduated more years ago than I care to count, I have as of late been reflecting of being 22. This weekend, I will be attending the wedding of one of my closest friends I met freshman year of college. I will see faces I have not seen since graduation day and catch up with old friends that hold some great memories of my past.

Everyone there will have changed somehow.

Some people stayed in the Midwest, some moved across the globe. Others are married, some even have children; some have chosen to climb the corporate ladder and hold well-earned prestigious titles. No matter where we find ourselves today, we shared this special four-year college experience together and then left the comfort of familiarity and entered into the unknown. We all have our own stories now.

AMYLEVIN2

When I was 22, I never would have guessed at this age I would be living in New York City, running my own media business and have met the love of my life. And if this all sounds like a fairy tale—believe it wasn’t without its stresses, failures and tears, I promise you. I spent a majority of my early-20s trying to plan every little detail of my future and attempting to control the uncontrollable. The reality is life doesn’t work this way.

CollegeFashionista started out of nativity at the age of 22 and my eagerness to try something no one else I knew at the time was doing. I have spent my 20s challenging myself in every way possible. I have learned to take ‘no’ as a way to push myself even further. I have learned the importance of strong mentors to help me avoid common mistakes. I have realized how meaningfully family truly is. I have lost friends that were toxic and gained new friends that fulfill me and bring happiness to my life. I have avoided comparing myself to others. I have appreciated the power of social media but also learned how to disconnect from it. I have learned the value of money and how budgeting is essential to your life. I have learned how important balance is to being successful.

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As you move to the next phase of your life I want to share some words of wisdom that I wish I had listened to upon graduating..

If you weren’t the person you wanted to be in college, start over. Don’t let the past define you.

Stop planning. The unexpected part of your 20s is the best part. You will hit a point in life where everything becomes routine. Enjoy the age and place you are at now.

There is no substitute for hard work.

Hit the pause button from time-to-time. Detach from social media, technology and be present. Life will move quicker then you can imagine.

You are the star of your own show.

And the biggest secret is that no one has it all figured out—not at 22; not at 29. So take a deep breath and GO!

Congratulations, Class of 2016.