Life as a 20-something: “You can’t predict the future. So, do what you want Right Now.”

Life as a 20-something: “You can’t predict the future. So, do what you want Right Now.”
Justin’s Daily Rituals: (1) Early to bed & Early to rise, (2) Running (3) Having a good breakfast

This is an interview with a 20-something who is doing Really Cool Shit. Look out for new ones each Friday @

Justin Bettman does not believe in Normal.

If you take just one look at this patterned-pants-loving California native turned Brooklynite, you can tell that he was born to stand out.

And trust us — Justin’s outfits aren’t the only giveaway.

Upon first meeting him, you can’t help but notice Justin’s almost boyish curiosity. He seems genuinely intrigued about…everything.

And yet, he also has an astute Sense of Self. As a 25-year-old, walking that line is a delicate balance. You’re at an age when you can choose to be naively optimistic, or prudently aware. Never both, they say.

But, Justin doesn’t feel like he has to choose. And, that unique combination makes him anything but Normal.

Most interestingly, Justin’s outlook on life has helped him grow his “side project”—Set in the Street— into an Instagram-famous form of expression for all.

WIRED Magazine explained the idea to their readers as such: “Imagine your uncle’s den — the one with the creepy taxidermy and cheap paneling where you played board games as a kid. Now imagine finding that room meticulously constructed en plein aire on a New York City sidewalk.”

Even the New Politics couldn’t resist snapping some pictures on one of Justin’s sets.

So, as a photographer by profession and by passion, Justin seems to have found It. He gets paid for, and takes creative liberties doing what he loves.

How do you find the balance between patience and motivation when working towards finding your version of It?


Use your time wisely

Justin has been taking pictures since he was in high-school.

In terms of experience, that means Justin has been a photographer for about a decade. For Ten years. Holy shit (are you freaking out?).

As a 20-something, how many activities can we say that about?

For most of us, none. But, the even crazier part: Justin has never has taken a legitimate photography class. As a millennial who grew up in the Trophy Generation, We have been groomed and bred towards our passions.

Justin proves it doesn’t have to be that way.

To him, the best way to learn is through experience — whether it’s shooting an album cover photo for a rapper in L.A., or reading articles on the Internet.

Everything and everyone is accessible nowadays.

“You can even reach out to your favorite people on Instagram. If you see something you like, ask. It never hurts to reach out — well, maybe just your ego.”

Because what’s the worst that can happen?

[I mean, Ghosting can happen. But, it’s not like you were trying to date your career guru anyway.]

Regardless, Justin is the type of person who seizes every moment — and advises other 20-somethings to do the same: “When you’re in high school and college, you should utilize all that extra time to develop a skill that you are passionate about. Assist people for free — you can still do that at a young age.”

And, even if you’re just finding your passion on the cusp of exiting your 20s, Justin (and I) think that Now is always the best time. It’s never too late to learn about what you love.

Because remember, you can’t predict the future.

Find inspiration everywhere

Justin makes sure to exercise at least once a day. It’s his detox time.

No distractions. Just him & his thoughts.

Like right now, Justin is doing a project on scenes of Classic New York. And, how is he finding his inspiration? By routing his afternoon run through those classic New York neighborhoods to spark some ideas.

Using his surroundings as inspiration isn’t new to Justin.

When he first thought of the famed Set in the Streets project, Justin really just wanted to find an inexpensive studio to shoot his photography — and he realized, “studios are everywhere.”

Since then, Justin has never stopped looking to his surroundings for inspiration. He constantly scours Google Maps for new set locations, and is able to transform everything from a NYC Housing Project to the outside of a club into anyone’s best Instagram background.

This doesn’t just apply to our Creatives. Your next business idea may hatch while frustrated by delays on the L.

Don’t Black Out anywhere (even at the bar — okay, of course at the bar).

And, your inspiration doesn’t have to stop at an idea. What’s even more interesting is Justin’s ability to translate his inspiration from his passion projects to his full-time job.

Justin admits that he “got a lot more responsibility [at work] once Set in the Street received press. Once you prove yourself when you have a lot of freedom, it will allow you more freedom [in the workplace].”

Now, how’s that for some inspiration?

If we pay attention to Justin’s path, we realize that nothing should stop us — and everything should inspire us.

Live in the Right Now

Justin is all too aware of the confusion We feel as Brand New Adults. But, he knows that everything is going to okay.

Because, guess what?

No one knows what they’re doing. Not even Real Adults (surprise!).

Since none of us are psychics (…or actually know what we’re doing), we might as well do what we want Right Now. There will never be a better time. Or, a worse time for that matter.

And, if it makes you feel better —“if you’re the best at what you do, you will be successful. Look at Jane Goodall. She hung out with monkeys all day, and she’s famous. Because, she’s just really, really good at her job.”

So do what you want. Live in the Right Now. Try a lot of different things. Find what you’re really, really good at (even if it’s chillin’ in gorilla cages — too soon?).

But most importantly, when you find something you enjoy — stick with It.

Thanks, Justin

If you enjoyed this — check out my blog, On Adulting, for more observations about this weird time as a 20-something. And feel free to make the little heart green 🙂

How do you find the balance between patience and motivation? Share and share!


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