10 Valuable Life Lessons I Learned in My 20’s

6. We are 100% responsible for our lives.

This idea was first introduced to me when I was reading Jack Canfield’s book almost a decade ago called”The Success Principles“.

Though it makes perfect logical sense, many of us place tend to act in contrast: we blame others and external circumstances (the weather, the economy etc.) for any disappointments we face in life instead of taking the responsibility that it may just be our “fault”.

In the past, I too have fallen prey to the blame game and resisted the idea that I am responsible for unpleasant situations that I experienced.

I simply could not fathom how I could have been the creator or initiator for the bad and negative incidents that occurred in my life. The mere thought that all the mistakes and disappointments that happened to me is entirely my fault just hurts too much – almost impossible to accept.

The good news is, once I’ve finally swallowed my pride and came to terms with the past, I decided to take responsibility instead of making excuses on how the disappointments were everyone else’s faults but mine. I quickly discovered that I have the power to change my life all along.

I also realized that taking responsibility does not mean that I must forever dwell in guilt and beat myself up for what has not worked out in the past.

On the contrary, unless we take responsibility for every single thing that happened in our lives – the bad included – we will deny ourselves of the chance to move on from the past as well deny ourselves from learning the valuable lessons that comes with “bad” experiences which enables us to do differently the next time we find ourselves facing a similar situation.

As Maya Angelou said “when we know better, we do better…

7. Always choose to be kind

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” – Plato

Throughout life, be it in our 20’s, 30’s and so forth, we are bound to meet those who have a knack for pushing our buttons. When we encounter a such a person, we have a tendency to immediately direct negative feelings towards them.

We find ourselves blaming that particular person for causing us aggravation, despair, grief etc. for their actions towards us. We would even judge and label them as our enemies or foe and vow to seek revenge.

Read More: Powerful Words of Wisdom to Inspire You to Pay it Forward

What we don’t realize is that through these actions, we are encouraging this person to perpetuate his/ her behavior because we’re giving in to very the reaction that he/she is seeking in us.

I believe that those who intentionally behaves badly and attack others, in other words those who are downright mean, are people who are hurting miserably from their lack of love and as we all know, misery loves company.

Negative people expect us to reciprocate their bad behavior and when we do, it is as if we attempt to put out fire with fire and as a result create an even bigger fire.

If the negative situation perpetuate over a long period of time, not only would we find ourselves giving into their negative energy, we may end up becoming just like them in the process.

When I encounter people who are unkind to me, i find that their negativity does not have so much to do with me rather than themselves.

For whatever reason, they felt that they have been hurt by others or treated unfairly in life and felt the need to inflict the same pain on others hence our best defense is not to inflict pain back but to extend love, empathy and patience to them.

We have no idea what challenges or issues they have or are going through, hence it is in our best interest to not quickly judge.

With that said, I’m certainly not encouraging anyone to let themselves be bullied or giving into the bad behaviors. I’m simply suggesting that there is a better way to deal with negativity and that is to remain kind and positive – or at the very least, cordial, despite the unpleasant circumstances.

Looking back, I am grateful for all the difficult people i’ve encountered because the experiences have enabled me to reflect, look deep within and realized that I’m much kinder and stronger than I give myself credit for.

Read More: There’s Got to Be More to Life

I believe that people enter our lives never by chance and always for a reason. However, it is entirely up to us to decide what that reason is and decide whether negative people who enter our lives are a curse or a blessing. I hope you too decide to always opt for the latter.

8. Let go of the timeline

I admit it. I’m a bit of a control freak. So just prior to graduating college, I decided to make a descriptive mental timeline as to how I would like my life to unfold.

Though I never written down these life goals along with the age that I expect myself to achieve it, they were definitely ingrained in my head – I had hardcore expectations.

As the years progress, it felt like I was constantly running against time, doing everything I could to make sure that the goals and the deadlines were met accordingly.

Fast forward to my mid 20’s, I experienced a so called “quarter life crisis“. Why you asked? well, in a span of 4 years or so, quite a few of my goals were left unachieved.

Though in reality, I did manage to achieve quite a lot of things, many of them were not on my original list of goals. As a result I felt unaccomplished and unworthy and felt as if I was a complete ‘loser‘.

After much self reflection and hours upon hours of deep conversations and sharing experiences with my loved ones, I realized that life doesn’t always pan out the way we imagined it to be, which doesn’t necessarily mean a bad thing.

Looking back, I realized that what I thought I wanted was not what I needed and I was steered to better things, paths and options, those that I could not have imagined would show up in my life.

Now, I realized that the timeline and deadlines that many of us create for ourselves to meet only gives us a whole lot of anxiety and doubts about ourselves and our capabilities.

The truth is, there is no certainty in life, I learned the hard way that the only thing that is certain is change. Though I believe that we are in charge of our lives, we can not completely control how the course of our lives will unfold. We must learn to be flexible and do our best, and have faith that when something doesn’t work out the way we imagine it to, it’s because there are better and greater things in store for us in the horizon.

9. We are *not* our ego

When I first was introduced to this idea in my early 20’s through reading “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle, I was both confused and skeptical.

I simply couldn’t understand as to how our ego can be separated from ourselves as for most of my life I’ve been lead to think that our ego is simply a part of who we are – a part of our true self that just happens to be perceived negatively.

In the book, Eckhart explained that our ego is separate from our true self and that the true self is actually the awareness within us that is capable of observing the ego.

He suggested that just by being aware and conscious of the ego and its false perception that usually arises as feelings of jealousy, envy etc, enables us to reduce haste reactions and responses that we would typically resort to when facing difficult or unpleasant situations.

This was a big aha! moment for me as I became aware of when the ego “acts out“, I was able to simply observe it & opt to react with a loving response instead of attacking that the ego.

Over the years, this awareness has allowed me to gain more clarity and deeper understanding myself as well as others.

If you would like to explore more on this, do check out “A New Earth” where Eckhart Tolle provides a much more comprehensive explanation to this idea.

10. We define what success means to us

Many of us have been lead to believe that in order to be perceived as truly successful, we must “have it all” (the money, the spouse, the flourishing career etc.) all the while appearing to not have even break a sweat while doing so.

I’ve come to realize that we do not have to conform to society’s interpretation of success and that we can have and live out our own definition of success.

I can relate with having the tremendous pressure put on us that comes from our parents, spouse, friends or even strangers.

The immense pressure and anxiety are enough for us to lose sight of what we actually want in life but we need to constantly remind ourselves that we only get one life to live. We owe it to ourselves to summon the courage to live it the way we want to.

No matter what we have been lead to believe prior, the truth is that each one of us have the capability to live life on our own terms and this is 100% our decision.

In order to live a life that you’ll be proud of looking back on, you must courageously shun other’s expectations of you and start living a life which aligns with your own vision of a successful and meaningful life. Dare to define success on your own terms and live your life with passion.

As Steve Jobs said “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life…

2 thoughts on “10 Valuable Life Lessons I Learned in My 20’s”

  1. I found “put yourself first” to be the biggest lesson I learned in my 20s, It really is the key to being the best partner, friend, employee, member of society, etc. If we don’t take care of ourselves first, how can we give or have the capacity to give to others? Great post! You have much to look forward to in your 30s! 🙂

    Like

    1. Hey there,

      Thank you so much for your kind wish and thoughts. I’m glad that the post resonates and i totally agree, it’s essential for us to “fill our cup” first to be in the right mindset and position to be able to best help others. We shall have to see what great lessons 30’s will bring :).

      Liked by 1 person

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