Birthdays are important milestones in our lives. They bifurcate a year of our life from the next while simultaneously measuring our growth. I turned 22 day before, on February 13, which is quite a number if you ask me, personally. But that also means that there is a lot that I have learned in these years. So here is a list of 22 life lessons I learned in these long 22 years, in no particular order-
1.You will change as you grow. And there is no shame in it.
They say change is the only constant in life which is paradoxical if you think about it. But it is the truth. You will change and evolve and in the process you will outgrow people and things. So there is nothing to be ashamed about. When people taunt how you’ve “changed”, take that as a compliment in disguise.
2.There is never going to be time “later”.
A lot of times we put our passions on the back-burner hoping there is always going to be time later. But trust me, those weekends will turn to months, months to years. Lo and behold, you are in your late thirties with a job and a family and no time to think about anything else. Which brings me to my next point.
3. Take control of your life.
If there is something you want to do, do it now. Don’t let your life run you. Turn it around and take control of matters. Honestly, if you just keep living a routine over and over, you are going to waste the most precious years of your life. Warning- they are never going to come back!
4. Sometimes, you’re gonna have to say NO.
Ever since I have started blogging, I have had to say no to people for a lot of things. Initially, I used to be very apologetic about it. Even if I had a legitimate reason for refusing people. But you can’t please everyone and sometimes it is okay to do that. Obviously, don’t hurt others but make sure you also don’t hurt yourself to please them.
5. People are going to be jealous. (And honestly, screw them)
No matter what you do, achieve, or how nice you are- some people are just not gonna like you. And there is literally nothing in the world you can do to change that. Now Idk why that is, okay. But some people are just wired that way. Personally, I know people who would keep messing up my Instagram polls, play the follow unfollow game, or stalk my profile and accidentally “like” something from 3 years ago and rush to “dislike” it. Like why? Why would you want to waste so much time and energy on some other person you don’t even like. So my suggestion, stay away form such people or they will drain the life out of you, one. Two, don’t become such a person!
6. If you love someone, do it unconditionally.
Yes, I am old school. I don’t believe in the Tinder generation and think Friends with Benefits and open relationships are unrealistic. (No, I don’t judge people who think otherwise. It’s just a personal opinion) But I do believe that in order to find the one you love, you will have to get your heart broken, not once, not twice but numerous times. Until you meet that one person and realise that you were not broken in the first place. And in order to get there, you’re gonna have to live a bit dangerously ad let your emotions take over you once in a while. How else are you gonna grow emotionally? Your past relationships may not stay with you forever, but the lessons learned most certainly will.
7. Learn to respect others.
In today’s day, I see people of my age trying to be “cool” by being indifferent to people elder to them. Be it their college teachers or parents or relatives. Newsflash: You are not being cool, just plain disrespectful. I know we feel like we know more than them (and at times, we do in certain matters) but it is their experience that has got them where they are today so it makes sense to listen to them on matters we have on idea about. And even if you don’t want to listen to them, atleast treat them decently. I see people who would cross their teachers in the hallway and not wish them. And all I can think is what the hell is wrong with you? So don’t be that jerk who doesn’t treat others with respect.
8. Some friends will not stay with you forever.
But will teach you important life lessons. Like I said before, life is all about learning and growing. So you are gonna come across people with you’re always gonna want to stay friends with. But people change and so do their priorities. While some drift apart, some you’ll have fights with but they’ll teach you important life lessons. You are not going to have friendship bracelets to keep but these lessons will be the memories of your friendship that you will always cherish when you silently thank that friend.
9. Make time for your family.
This is probably one of the most important lessons on this list. I am lucky to have a close bond with my family. But I know some people who don’t. In reality, this is the only time you are going to get to forge a real relationship with them. These are the years when we become our true self and it is important that our parents know that self. Else they are always going to be in love with the idea of that naughty child you were even though you are now a responsible adult. Or they’ll love that little scientist or a doctor even though now you want to be a singer. You see what I am saying?
10. Family in the previous point includes your siblings.
Don’t forget your siblings. They are going to be your friends forever, for real. I have a brother who is 8 years younger to me, but I still count him amongst my best friends. And if you do have that kind of bond right now, it’s going to last a lifetime. They are going to be the one you’re gonna want to call up during good times and bad later in life. And honestly, the way extended families are falling apart these days, they’re going to be your only family once your parents are gone. So cherish them and make them feel loved.
11. Blood is not always thicker than water.
Just because someone is your family, it isn’t necessary they have your best interests at heart. So be careful when dealing with someone like that. Also, don’t mix personal relationships with professional unless you have a really high degree of trust- like a husband and wife. If one gets into choppy waters, the other automatically follows.
12. Appearances are deceptive.
Just because someone sports a tattoo doesn’t mean they’re bad. Similarly, a person dressed as a saint could be a devil in disguise. Don’t be so obsessed with appearances- of others and yourself. There is nothing wrong in wanting to look and feel good but only to an acceptable limit. There is a reason why they say looks fade, only beauty remains. The day you understand the difference between the two, you are going to find true bliss.
13. Be kind to others.
All of us look calm on the surface but the truth is that we are all struggling to keep up. So be kind. You don’t know the kind of battle they’re fighting. Or the horrible day they’ve had. A lot of people think that the only way to go up is by stomping on others and that is simply not true. Don’t use others to get ahead, not while taking undue advantage of them.
14. Karma is *really* a bitch.
No, it is not simply a saying. And never think it is not going to happen to you. It may not happen eventually, but 5 years or 10 years from now, it WILL come back to bite you in the ass. So be good. Universe has a funny way of working and you are simply not going to get away with it.
15. Make time for spirituality.
No, I am not asking you to visit temples or gurudwaras or mosques. Though it is good if you want to. But I am not asking to be, religious, you know. Just spiritual. To make time to become one with yourself. It could be through meditation or just sending out a small prayer or a little thank you to the Universe. But something to pay gratitude to the Higher power out there to make sure it knows that you acknowledge its existence.
16. Focus on your health.
Even if it is 10 minutes, take that walk. Develop a habit. I am still struggling but I will get there eventually. All of us are already living such sedentary lifestyles so it is extremely important that we develop healthy habits. Whether it is healthy eating or healthy living, inculcate small habits to eventually make big changes.
17. Don’t let social media take over your world.
Yes, socialising is important. We all suffer from FOMO but don’t let it rule you. It is okay if you miss an update or don’t check your phone constantly. Not every picture has to be clicked and it is not the end of the world. I celebrated my birthday yesterday and don’t have a single picture. Do I mind it? Not one bit. Social media is deceptive which leads people to believe that others are living a better life than them. But that is not true. Social media is filtered, right from the details to the places to the faces. The reality is much darker which can’t be fixed with filters and brightness settings.
18. Learn to manage your finances.
You may not be earning right now. For some reason, most Indian kids don’t. But despite of all that, you should learn to save for a rainy day. Who knows it might even provide you with some cushion in the future for some big investment you make. So start small, you will get there.
19. Love yourself.
Now this is THE most important lesson I have. Till the time you don’t learn to fall in love with your body and mind, no one else will. I see a lot of people hating themselves, the way they look or the clothes they have or the fact that they are not smart. But you need to learn to be confident in your skin. I am sure there is some scientific logic to it, but the confidence you feel inside is the only confidence people see outside. So if you want to be treated a certain way, you have to look the part.
20. Don’t create unnecessary drama to seek attention.
Now I have been guilty of this. I used to be extra, man. Picking up fights and arguments and what not. Now this is not something someone does consciously. It is something you do when you are insecure and look for other ways to seek attention and I understand that because I went through it. And god, it is so easy to fall into that pattern. So you need to constantly keep remind yourself to avoid creating drama wherever possible because that is the only way you are going to find true happiness.
21. Be open to trying new things.
Whether it is new experiences, places, people, or food- be open and receptive to all of that. This is the only time and age (generally) you are going to have the open mindedness towards new things. So make sure you put that to best use. They are going to make the best memories of your life.
22. Don’t forget to help others and the environment.
Be charitable. Now I am not asking you to devote all your time, energy and resources to charity. But find atleast one cause you care deeply about and work for it whenever you get the time. If you have the resources or the skills to open closed doors for someone, why not do it? It will repay you in bountiful ways eventually.
BONUS: Two other advises rather than lessons I have for you are these- One, don’t be afraid to cry. Crying doesn’t make you weak. It is okay to let your feelings take over you once in a while. A friend once told me that tears cleanse the soul and nothing else I say can sum it up better. And two, don’t worry about your first grey hair, or the second. It is a natural part of ageing and ultimately you actually start liking it.
So these are some gems I had to share with you all. Did I go overboard? Did I miss something? Or did I hit the nail right on its head?
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments below!