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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at San Francisco chapter.

How often have you craved approval from others? From your parents, employers, or maybe even your professors. Now think about all that time you spent impressing that person… Was it worth it in the end? 

Being in your 20s is extremely tough for people constantly seeking validation or approval of their actions. Our 20s can be challenging meeting so many different people in such a short amount of time. 

Think of each new semester that starts; you have new professors, new classmates, and a new set of expectations you have to meet. If you get a job, you’re faced with having to “prove yourself” to your employer just to simply gain the right shifts you want or to show you’re “worthy” of getting some time off for vacation. People with internships struggle with seeking validation as well. Internships are supposed to be “for the experience.” However, many interns are left with a dreadful experience and feel drained from trying to satisfy their employers in the hope of getting a paid position. 

Yes, our college careers are supposed to be spent networking, finding resources, and setting ourselves apart from our competitors but not at the expense of our well-being and worth. Our parents taught us to be people-pleasers, and reward comes with hard work. But very rarely have we been taught how to value our self-worth and recognize that we shouldn’t settle or lower our expectations in our personal and professional lives.

So, before you spend hours perfecting an assignment, waking up early to be the first one at work, or taking the lead on a project. Be sure to ask yourself, is what I’m doing worth it? Will what I’m doing benefit me or only those around me? The most meaningful thing you could do for your professional life is SET YOUR BOUNDARIES EARLY. Even if it’s not for your dream job, it allows you to practice setting those boundaries in a lower stake environment. 

How To Set Boundaries with Work

Always keep a trail of communication to keep both parties accountable

Maintaining a consistent line of communication will allow you and your employer no room for error when relaying information to one another. (Example: Getting shifts covered, taking time off, calling off). 

Know your responsibilities for your position

Taking on the work of two or more people isn’t fair to anyone. If you’re expected to take on the responsibilities of others, discuss your concerns with your employer or request a raise to compensate for the extra work. 

Silence work-related notifications

During your personal hours, it’s totally okay to be unreachable by your co-workers or employers. Once you leave work, you have no obligation to respond to any of them. Silence all work group chats or private job-related messages; therefore, you aren’t tempted to respond. 

Learn how to say no

If you aren’t comfortable or don’t want to do what’s being asked of you, learn that saying no is okay and perfectly acceptable. 

Recognize when you have outgrown a company 

My favorite piece of advice is the last one because, for Gen Z, many of us are turning away from “the norm,” which is working at the same job for 20+ years until you’ve reached retirement. We embrace job exploration and don’t care about sticking with the same company; once we’ve outgrown it, we move on, showing true maturity.  

Don’t leave college or end your 20s feeling immense self-doubt, distrust, and hopelessness because you didn’t get recognition for everything you’ve done. Leave college or finish off your 20s feeling empowered, grounded, and knowing your worth.

Starr Washington is a member of the Her Campus National Writer Program, contributing to the lifestyle vertical. She also serves as the President of the Her Campus Chapter at her university. Currently a senior at San Francisco State University, Starr is pursuing a degree in Broadcast Electronic Communication Arts (BECA) with a minor in Africana Studies. Following her undergraduate studies, she plans to pursue an MFA in creative writing. Starr is dedicated to showcasing her blackness in her professional work and is always rooting for black creatives, particularly in film, literature, and travel. In addition to her writing, Starr works at her university’s multicultural center, where she organizes annual events for both the campus and the Bay Area community. She was a speaker at the San Francisco State University Black Studies Origins and Legacy Commemoration, where she had the honor of sitting alongside the founders of the country's first Black Student Union. Starr teaches a course she developed called “Intro to Black Love” within SFSU’s experimental college program. In her rare free time, Starr enjoys chipping away at her TBR list (she finishes one book, then adds three more to the list), writing poetry and fiction, and spending time with her music enthusiast partner and their three-year-old German Shepherd. She is a Scorpio from Michigan.