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What A Cosmo Chick Would Do At Every Age

Your problems at age 28 are so different from those you had at 18. Here are some age-appropriate woes and how you can face them head-on.

Age is just a number—true, but hold it right there. Admit it: You get anxious about the number of candles adding up on your birthday cake. Unfortunately, nothing can keep you from the real woes and concerns that come at certain periods of your life. Cosmo clues you in on how you can embrace your number, grow up gracefully, and stay fun and fearless at any age.

At 18: “Am I in the right course? Should I shift?”

Your Major Concern: Suddenly you find yourself wondering what in the world made you take this course. Now that you’re of legal age, you begin to think long-term and wonder if your course will prove to be as fun way after graduation.

How To Deal: If in doubt, ask questions. Ask yourself first what it is you’re good in. There has to be something that you do better than your friends. Make list of these skills—general or specific ones. Then, write a personal mission statement that sums up your values and your ultimate goal. As Alexandra Levit further notes in They Don’t Teach Corporate In College: “By think ng about what’s really important to you and where you want to go in life, your efforts and energy will be directed toward a common purpose.” Do your research online or ask alumni from your college or university about the careers that correspond to your skills, interest, and personal mission. You can also try applying for internship in your targeted fields or visiting prospective companies, so you can get a feel of the environment and gauge how suited you are to the field you wish to pursue.

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At 22: “I’m so nervous about my first job. How will I know I’m on the right career path?”

Your Major Concern: At last, you’re done with college, only to find another stretch of uncharted road ahead. Too bad, you no longer have professors to tell you what to do and how things can be done.

How To Deal: Be patient. “Don’t focus on when you’re going to move up; focus on what you’re doing now,” explain Emily Bennington and Skip Lineberg in Effective Immediately: How To Fit In, Stand Out And Move Up At Your First REAL JOB. “Any time you are a new hire, and especially at the beginning of your career, you must build your own success from the ground up. Do not expect anyone to assume you’re talented. You have to show them—and this takes time. Usually more time than you expect.” So, instead of doubting your capabilities and worrying about your future, let yourself get acquainted well with the job. Give yourself about a year before you decide whether to stay in the company or pursue another job. And in the meantime, work to the best of your ability every single workday and see what happens.

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At 25: “I don’t know what to do with my life. Should I change jobs? Move out? Get married? Is this quarter-life crisis?”

Your Major Concern: Things aren’t turning out the way you wanted. It’s frustrating to have so many choices but you can’t make one. Stuck in a rut? You’re not alone.

How To Deal: Be a go-getter, not a rigid “checklister.” Christine Hassler, author of 20 Something Manifesto, explains that “having it all” is a common desire for checklisters. “The problem is, 20some-things get so obsessed about the future that they overextend themselves and burn out by trying to accomplish all their goals right now.” It’s good to have a plan, but you should also be willing to welcome change and unafraid to commit mistakes every now and then. And, when faced with a multitude of options, pick one and stick to it. Hassler suggests: “Sometimes, you just have to decide and be content with your decision, otherwise you will continue to be torn between the reality of what you have and the fantasy in your head of what you think would be better.”

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At 28: “I’m already 28 and I still don’t have savings. Trust me, my financial status is less than impressive.”

Your Major Concern: By now, your savings account should be steadily growing. Instead, you have an outstanding credit card balance and bills to pay.

How To Deal: First, pay your bills on time and pay off your debt. “More often than not, the smartest financial move you can make is to take any savings you have (above and beyond money you need for essentials like rent, food and health insurance) and pay off your high-rate loans,” says Beth Kobliner in Get A Financial Life: Personal Finance In Your Twenties And Thirties. Monitor and control the outflow of your money. And when you do need to spend, don’t max out your credit card. Choose a card with a lower credit limit to instill some discipline, suggest Abby Wilner and Catherine Stocker in The Quarterlife’s Companion. Finally, automate your savings. You can ask your bank to funnel a certain amount of your checking account into your savings. As you become more adept at saving money, increase the amount and keep on saving up.

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At 30: “I’m 30 and I still don’t have a boyfriend. Will I still have a chance to get married?”

Your Major Concern: You have it all—except for a gutsy man to ask for your hand. Worse, your friends and family can’t just help but prod at your almost happy life.

How To Deal: Have the time of your life, whether you’re single or not. Sure, you’re no longer 20 years old, but that’s a good thing. “Now is the time when you have the best of both worlds: the energy of relative youth and the good sense that comes with adulthood,” notes Andrea Lavinthal, co-author of Your So-Called Life: A Guide To Boys, Body Issues, And Other Big-Girl Drama. “This is your time to experiment and learn what would make you a happier person,” as Erin Torneo points out in The Bridal Wave: A Survival Guide To The Everyone-I-Know-Is-Getting-Married Years. “Once you start refocusing your efforts on you, instead of why you’re alone, why he isn’t proposing, or why everyone you know has already beaten you to the bridal shop, you’ll be on your way. The more you focus on the things you can control, the less the other stuff is going to affect you.”

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