With the start of my 30’s just around the corner, it’s time to recollect my thoughts and prepare myself to bid adieu to my 20’s. Admittedly, the past decade has been tumultuous and riddled with confusion but overall, it has been one amazing and blessed adventure.
I recognize that i’m still a work in progress and will always be but the last 10 years has been a great learning curve filled with a plethora of valuable lessons that I’ve learned firsthand through my experiences.
Here, I would like to share with you the top 10 life lessons which I have hold dear as some of my priceless life principles. These lessons have helped shaped me as the person I am today and continue to be a helpful guidance as I forge ahead in life. I hope that they prove to be as valuable to you, whatever your age may be.
1. Stay true to yourself
I know, I know, I totally agree with you – the phrase “Be Yourself” is ridiculously cliché but then again, I believe that the reason why it’s such a well known phrase is because deep down, we know that it’s a pretty damn good advice.
As human beings, most of us tend to seek for validation since it’s a much easier option for us to put on a “mask” on than being vulnerable and letting our true self be shown to the world. As a result, we pretend to like the things and/ or people that we don’t really like. As a society, we conform to the majority and alter ourselves to be like everyone else in order to fulfill our desire to belong but i’ve come to realize that nothing is as amazing and not to mention fulfilling as being able to be shamelessly and genuinely 100% you.
Let’s face it not everyone is going to like you, after all, I’m willing to bet that you don’t like nor will you like every one of the 1.7 billion people living on this earth. It is likely that we have and will continue to encounter numerous people that will disagree with or disapprove of our values, principles or even something as trivial as our physical attributes.
The good news is, this is completely OK and it’s something that we must learn to accept sooner or later, sooner being the better option. When we come to terms that trying to get everyone to like us is a waste of precious time and effort, we can focus on and appreciate those who embrace us for our genuine selves (flaws and all) instead.
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” – Bernard M. Baruch
2. Count your blessings
“Don’t let the things you want, make you forget the things you have”
When the going gets tough, it’s easy to believe that we are far from blessed. What I’ve come to realize is that when we are not getting what we want or when challenges and difficult situations are put in our paths, we are actually been given blessings in disguise. Our job, as hard as it may sound, is to figure out the lessons or silver linings to be learned from those hard circumstances.
I believe that character are built when we face situations where we are forced to dig deep and show the world, as well as ourselves, just what we are truly made of. I found that when we decide stay the course and refuse to give up, we will always come to the realization that we are much stronger and resilient than we give ourselves credit for.
Nevertheless, we often take things and people who are already in our lives for granted, whether its our health, the love of our loved ones, running water & electricity. While we often overlook the things we have as something basic, millions of people in the world are praying for.
Instituting attitude of gratitude or the act of acknowledging for everything we have been given on a regular basis, allows us to take in just how fortunate we already are and enable us to see the good even in challenging situations that are put in our paths.
3. Be brave, take risks
“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”
Whenever I have a difficult decision to make, I ask myself this very question and the answer becomes crystal clear. I find that doubts usually arise from our fear so when we take out fear out of the equation, clarity effortlessly appears.
In the past decade, I faced quite a few proverbial “fork in the road” situations where I had to make such challenging decisions. From those situations, I’ve come to realize that our 20’s is a time of exploration as it is a time in our lives where we have the most freedom to be “reckless” and the time to take (calculated) risks. What I mean by this is that for most of us, in our 20’s, we are only responsible for no one but ourselves. Major decisions such as trying out a new career path or moving to live in another country only get more difficult as we move into the next chapters of our lives (getting married, having kids and so on).
With that said, just because it gets harder doesn’t mean that this lesson is no longer valid as one part ways with their 20’s. I’ve come to believe that taking risks and doing things that defy our fears is something that we need to continuously do in order to live our best lives and become the person that we truly are meant to be. As Mark Twain said “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the things that you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover”.
4. Put yourself first
Admittedly, this idea sounds downright selfish when written out let alone said out loud but I’ve come to find out that it is anything but. In order to be our best selves and offer meaningful contribution to our loved ones and our community, it is imperative that we make sure that we tend our needs first. The most common and perhaps the best analogy for this is the direction flight attendants give us regarding the application of emergency oxygen masks prior to take off. The instruction demands for us to apply our own oxygen masks before assisting children and others with their masks.
For us to be in the best shape to tend to others – be it our spouse, children, clients etc.,we need to make sure that our own needs are met. I know that this sounds much easier said than done as most of us tend to list our needs at the bottom of the list but this is really for your own well being. Whether your needs means having “me” time for more sleep, meditation, taking that cooking course or an indulgent bubble bath, it’s important that you don’t push it to the back burner.
Personally, i’ve come to realize that when I neglect my own needs, I unconsciously become resentful to those I “sacrifice” my time and effort for and do no one, including myself, any good. In contrast, when I do tend to my needs, I literally feel “my cup runneth over” with love and as a result I feel I am at my best to be of service to others.
5. Choose your friends wisely
Another matter that became crystal clear in my 20’s is that friends are family that we get to choose, so it’s best to choose wisely. Jim Rohn, a renowned motivational speaker, has been famously quoted saying that we are the average of the 5 people that we spend the most time with. It is more than likely that out of the 5 people you spend the most time with at least 2 of those people are your friends.
This means that who we select as our friends may affect us and our lives significantly – be it positively or negatively. In other words, it is in your best interest to select your friends carefully because whether we are aware of it or not, they may determine how the course of our life will unfold.
Being selective as to who we spend our time with does not mean that we are arrogant or think ourselves as “better”. To quote Oprah Winfrey “Surround yourself with only people who lift you higher”. In order to become your best self, you must surround yourself with people who believe in the best in you and encourage you to live your best life. That is not to say that you should seek for people pleasers or those who agree with you and nod along no matter what, as friends. Our confidants should consists of people who believe the greatness within us but whom are also able to express what we need to hear and not just what we want to hear because sometimes we need the help of those closest to us to give us a dose of honest “tough love” and knock some sense into us when they see us heading the wrong path.