Something amazing happened during my 20's. I graduated from school and suddenly I had to actually (gasp) work for a living. What a rude awakening for a girl who up until then thought work was something you could get fired from before the summer ended so you could head to the pool.
My first job out of college was at a small publishing company. I was paid 19k. Keep in mind I was working in Boston not Butte, Montana and this was 1999, not 1974. It.Was.Not.Good.Pay. And it was the first time I had paid for anything myself. That $100-month gym membership sure got expensive fast. Plus my parents handed over my cat--a senior citizen by then--and I was stuck with all of his vet bills, of which there were plenty.
It was a great first job (minus the pay) and I sometimes kick myself for leaving. The people were warm and welcoming. They really listened to me when I had a problem. It was a company founded by the counter-culture of the 1960's and most of the people there reminded me of my mom: extremely liberal, laid back and barefoot.
It was the perfect place for me. Other than my boss. The queen of micromanaging, she asked me to submit a daily breakdown of work. So at the end of the day, I was expected to hand her a detailed, hour-by-hour breakdown of that day's work. Um, no thanks. I tired of that quickly and, even though she left and the rest of the company apologized profusely to me for her behavior, I already had a new job.
My second job would have been the perfect first job: tedious, g-d awful work. Incredibly shallow, catty older women. Pointless four-hour meetings about nothing. Zero opportunity for advancement. I.Was.Miserable. Grad school beckoned. And less than three years into my working life, I was out. And not a moment to soon. Because I'd spent three years in the trenches, two in a job I literally have nightmares about to this day, I appreciated graduate school 10x more. I was just sorry it was not a 10-year program.