Be Self-Aware: 5 Basic Things All 2015 Grads Need To Embrace ASAP

by Jessica Schirripa

Congratulations, graduate!

You have moved onward and upward in the world; adulthood, here you come!

Whether you’ve chosen the route of college, studying a trade or going directly into the workforce, please remember these words: Despite all your hard work and everything you have been taught, you are not owed anything.

Yes, it may sound cruel and harsh, but it’s the truth.

So, dear Millennials, as you venture into the new chapter of your life, here are five tips that will help you in your 20s and beyond:

1. Read a book (or at the very least, something longer than 140 characters).

Read one book a month. Any book. Just do it. I know you feel like you complete this task on a daily basis as it is, even as you click from one article to the next on platforms like this, but that's not enough to truly educate yourself and broaden your horizons.

As much as I want my written word to be frozen in time and shared across the Internet, I still hope young adults invest in more reading beyond the average post on a news feed.

2. Don’t wait to be told what to do.

Be responsible for your own destiny. There’s nothing worse for a professor or employer to hear than the old, “no one asked me to do this,” or, “it’s not my job.”

It’s like nails on a chalkboard. Plus, it will put you on a fast track to be unemployed in today's market.

Modern industry professionals do not care you may be fresh out of the womb — I mean school.

They do not have time to walk you through everything step by step. They just expect you to be in the know, even if it seems ridiculous.

So, take initiative. Think outside of the box. Learn how to do things the right way by doing it and failing. This is the greatest way to learn how to succeed and find your way!

Responsibility is management and knowing when it is time to take matters into your own hands. Work hard before someone has to ask you to step it up.

3. Save your money in your 20s.

When you get your first real big boy or big girl job and see a steady income with a few zeros at the end, make sure to save at least 25 percent of your paycheck before you celebrate by buying that round of shots.

It’s tempting to splurge, shop, etc., but most people build debt in their 20s because they get an influx of money and think, “I’ll pay it off.”

This creates a domino effect that sometimes follows you for the rest of your life.

I know freedom has finally arrived and you are probably itching to get out of your parents' home, but times are a changing.

I say, attempt to ride the Mom and Dad train till the furthest stop. I know circumstances are different for everyone, so if you have the luxury to do so, take advantage of it.

You first need to realize they won't be around forever. You are closer to an age where you are (hopefully) developing an appreciation for all they have sacrificed for you over the years, rather than brooding in your adolescent disdain.

Then, you need to acknowledge that although this may be a seemingly unfavorable decision for your social life right now, the money you can potentially save while being at home will provide you much more financial benefit in the future.

4. Take responsibility for your mistakes.

Everyone makes mistakes; it happens. The worst thing you can do is get defensive or try to justify when you screw up. Own your mistakes.

But remember, struggle reveals more of your character than triumph and praise. It shows maturity and confidence.

It may feel uncomfortable to admit at first, but the lessons you'll learn will help you grow in any environment, work or otherwise.

Prepare to overcome a lot of bad life decisions and wrong choices. It's inevitable and humbling.

5. Your reputation is everything.

Remember how you were always told it doesn't matter what people think of you?

Well, that really only applies to certain aspects of your personality and overall demeanor in life because that certainly doesn't fly in the work force or in the real world.

Employers aren't going to buy what you're selling if it doesn't reflect positive reviews, attitudes and behaviors.

Luckily for me, there wasn’t a phone, camera or video recorder in every hand while I was in my early 20s.

Social media was just on the brink of explosion, so I dodged a serious bullet. Unfortunately for you, the tech landscape is much different.

What seems like a good idea today may damage your reputation and could cause many issues in the future.

Did you really think the time you killed a handle of vodka and your friend videotaped you stealing a loaf of bread from a food cart while singing “Street Rat” from "Aladdin" was a good idea?

I know I once did. In the moment, we justify this hilarious behavior as just a symptom of capricious youth, but with the power of the Internet and technology, your explicit words and every move may be documented.

Your reputation holds value. It can and will be used against you in a court of law or at the very least, online.

Between posting photos and regular status updates, we’ve become so desensitized to the reality of our very own self-destruction.

The damage of your reputation through constant social feeds will directly and inconceivably affect all of the areas of your life, proving Vegas really needs to change its slogan ASAP! (What happens in Vegas DOES NOT stay in Vegas, you guys.)

We may not be able to control ourselves after throwing back some Fireball, but we can control our projected images.

One picture or post can be the deciding factor on whether or not you’re hired, promoted or fired.

Stay out of the limelight. Trust me.