Things I would tell my 20-year-old self
I am turning 30 in exactly a week.
My 20s were filled with exhilarating moments (as I am sure yours did too). I made mistakes, missed opportunities, lost faith in myself and society. Yet somewhere along the way, I did discover a better me.
Now, I am no soothsayer but I strongly think sometimes it’s best to learn things through experience. Yet tonight, I can’t help but feel that had the 20-something me known these things, I could have saved myself a lot of mental and physical bandwidth.
I am the youngest in my circle of friends to be turning 30 in this dreadful year of 2020. I saw them all go through it (virtually, unfortunately), the pang of remorse they felt on having completed a massively important decade of their life. Especially with the pandemic that churned out the little happiness one could have felt on that one day of the year when humans(most, not all) love to self-indulge.
But, me? I can’t wait to be done with it. Not entirely sure why, but I am truly looking forward to tuning in my 30s.
But before that happens, I find myself sitting snuggled into my couch tonight, sifting through thoughts, and it slowly begins to dawn upon me on what I’d like to have known. So, let's goooo! ★
1. It’s okay to work on a job you hate for a while.
It’s fine. You may not find the right fit right away. Your 20s are for meandering, for experimenting. They are for gaining experience.
The chase to be very successful at a young age is a media and societal construct. It’s unrealistic. It is unwise. Some may find it early but it’s NOT an absolute must for you to have found it.
Sometimes working on a job you dislike brings you closer to discovering what you actually find valuable and enjoy doing.
2. Practice saying NO to toxic people in your life.
I can not emphasize enough its importance to say no to people, to situations that drain your energy. We are taught to be so nice to the world around us that we accidentally forget to take care of our own self.
There is nothing wrong with drawing boundaries. It does not make you a bad person no matter who says otherwise and guilt trips you.
The more you practice saying no to things that don’t ‘feel’ right to you, the more fulfilling your life will become. Your inner circle will become enriching and priceless with time with people who truly respect you.
3. Spend money on experiences and not things
Things have a shelf life. Experiences live on forever in your memory. It’s one of those things you won’t’ figure out until you’ve spent a lot of money on things.
Things often bring more excitement during the waiting period until you buy them and in the first few weeks you own them and then- well, they get old.
Try and spend on experiences that make a lot of memories — like that trip trekking with friends, playing card games with family, attending a music concert by your favorite artist. Yep, those kinds of ‘scenes’.
4. Drink water
Most of us have partied all through our 20s. Drink alcohol if you must, but make sure you drink as much water. Don’t skip meals. Wear that sunscreen when you step out of the home. Whatever matches with your value system and logic of taking healthy measures for your body and mind. Do it.
Don’t stop exercising. Those postures and movements you found easy to do in your 20s will feel more difficult to revive in your 30s if you stopped. So whatever good you are already doing, don’t stop.
5. It's a marathon. Not a sprint.
Life does not end once you turn 30. In fact, with age and experience, you will find yourself thriving, making decisions that align better with your values, in turn leading to deeper satisfaction.
So don’t get anxious if you aren’t able to achieve, travel, experience as much as your peers in your 20s... There is a time for everything and life is all about phases. Focus on what’s important to YOU right now and learn to revel in that.
6. People come and go
You will realize that there is only so much you can do to keep hold of loved ones in your life. Sometimes, people will leave you, and sometimes you will outgrow them. It’s as natural as seasons that come and go.
Most of the relationships in our lives serve a purpose for that phase in our life. This is why you slowly lose contact with your school friends etc. Don’t take it personally, everyone is really busy with their life. If the memories you created together were filled with laughter and kindness, you will most likely find it easy to reconnect and pick it up from where you left off. And, that’s OK.
7. Get comfortable with the mundane
Most of life is filled with simple ordinary moments that don’t stir up any emotions. The faster you make peace with it, the better you will learn to appreciate life.
Stop chasing the high life, it’s an addiction and an unrealistic goal.
8. If it’s important to you, it’s worth your attention
Those little/big things, call it beliefs or weird quirks that you do or follow that don’t make sense to people around you?
Like — wanting to go sleep in your own bed after a party to not wanting to head out every Friday night or talking to your plants every morning to not having a social media account. Those kinds of things.
Do not let them go. Period. If they make sense to you, they are worth your attention. Do not edit these little quirks about yourself to fit someone else’s idea of what you should be like. Just don’t.
9. Follow your intuition. Always.
That nagging feeling at the back of your mind that you can’t explain. The one that steers you towards and away from situations. Learn to imbibe it. It’s your well-wisher.
It will help you stay authentic and make choices that hold true to you deeply. Listen to it. It will help you disassociate from taking decisions under pressure from family and friends that you may come to regret later in your life.
Be it that party you want to leave or that feeling to recheck if you have locked your car.
For someone who seeks meaning in most moments — not having fully felt the realization of this upcoming milestone is a surprise to me. But I hope and wonder if this written dialogue with myself struck a chord with you.
If you are still in your 20s — I ask you to explore what you might tell your younger self and within that, I hope you find your answers. And. If you are in your 30s — I invite you to comment and add things that you wish to have known as a 20 something.
Hope you enjoyed reading this.