{Author's Note} This post originally appeared on www.thislittlethingcalledlife2016.com

The receipt was supposed to be fool proof. That was what I was always told growing up:

 

  • High School✓
  • College✓
  • Good Grades✓
  • Law School✓
  • Internships✓

That checklist was supposed to contain the five magical ingredients that would guarantee me a “successful” life, but then…

JK    HAHA     LOL     NVM     SorryNotSorry     SIKE

That entire checklist is a lie. One BIG FAT lie that we started feeding to our millennial generation (i.e. me) and everyone since, and you know what, it was genius. We drank the cool aid, but before the comments of: “Wait, seriously?” “I just wasted ten seconds of my life reading that paragraph for you to tell me that?” “What a joke!” “Worst advice ever!” let me tell you I myself would have laughed and thought the same thing ten years ago. In fact, I wish I had wasted ten seconds of my life ten years ago reading that stupid paragraph because it would have saved me a lot of trouble.

You see, I followed the receipt above to the T, and fully believed I would graduate law school and live “successfully.” Boy was I wrong! Upon graduating law school I moved back home with mommy (GASP! Every child’s worst nightmare!), studied 40+ hours a week for the bar exam (I failed that BTW), spent seven months finding my first “big girl” job only to be laid off six months later due to a State budget crisis (Thanks Governor Malloy!), and now have been looking unsuccessfully for a new job (but I have obtained two no’s so at least they are reading my stuff!)

I wish someone had bothered to tell me, or knew to tell me, what I am about to tell you. I figured it out a little too late to set myself up for “success” in my twenties, but I didn’t figure it out too late for you. If you want to achieve that “success” everyone keeps talking about, you need to add one very important thing to the top of that checklist: People I Know. In order to succeed 90% of the time in this little thing called life you need to know people. I am not talking about just having friends (those are great), but real, live, professionals. You see, this is where that “success” everyone is talking about comes from. These people you know, recommend you to people they know, and so goes the circle until you end up with experience and a job. Maybe one of them will ask you conversationally where you attended school, but their opinion of your worth will be formed based on that person you knew who recommended you.

So there you have it! The one big secret that your teachers, counselors, parents, and advisors never told you. Navigating this little thing called life to achieve this “success” everyone talks about begins with who you know.