20 Life Lessons Learned from My 20s

Life lessons learned from my 20s

I turned 30 over the weekend. Yeah, the big 3-0! The weekend itself couldn’t have been any better. There was too much food (like WAY too much food), lots of laughter and fun conversations, and hugs & kisses, and blessings, and above all, just a grand showering of love from all the people dearest to me. And seriously, having your birthday fall on the weekend is the best!

This journey to the big 3-0 has seen it’s share of good and bad, and while I’ve never been a “wild child” (though a part of me sometimes secretly wishes I was), I’ve had my own share of fun and learnt some life lessons along the way. I’m sharing below some of the life lessons learned from my 20s.

1| Don’t neglect the important relationships in your life for work

Work is only just one part of your entire life. Without meaningful relationships, our lives would be hollow and we won’t have anyone to share our life and experiences with. I’ve made my mistakes during my investment banking days in this regard, and it’s not something that I’d want to repeat ever again. Sure, there are still times when I’m drowning in work and everything else in life seems secondary, but I know, and make sure, that it is only a phase.

2| Success takes time

In today’s world of endless viral phenomenons, it’s easy to forget that success takes time and hard work. You need to do the work and keep at it. Becoming an overnight success might be the big, fat dream, especially in the creative fields, but even for that, you need to DO THE WORK. There really is no substitute for hard work.

3| You don’t need to conform to anything

Unless you want to. And it’s okay if you do. But if you don’t want to, give yourself the permission to not conform to the many labels, expectations and “have tos” that are placed upon us. Be brave enough to carve your own path, and build your tribe that supports and encourages you.

4| You are allowed to change

Really, give yourself the permission to change your opinion, attitude, beliefs, career and behaviour. The world around you is constantly evolving, and so are you. Don’t feel the need to apologize for your evolution. It only proves that you’re thoughtful and open-minded, which is nothing to be apologetic about.

5| Actually, don’t apologize so much

Sometime last year, I caught myself using “sorry” for just about everything, even things that I couldn’t control. What also struck me was that almost no man around me ever used that word so easily. Read this piece, and if you catching yourself saying sorry superfluously and in an effort to be polite, stop. Please, just stop.

6| Dream big and work bloody hard towards fulfilling them

In the – “If you have a dream, then you have a duty and a responsibility to yourself to make it come true.” Don’t sell yourself short, and don’t listen to the naysayers. If you put your mind (and heart) to something, there is almost nothing that you cannot achieve. Most of the limitations that we believe stand in the way of us realising our dreams are often self-imposed. It’s been one of the most painful truths I have confronted in this last year, and it’s not a pleasant realisation.

7| Worry less

If there is one thing I wished I’d done less of in my 20s, it would be this. I’ve spent just too much time being upset over imaginary situations and things beyond my control. And only over time I’ve realised the compounded effect of all that useless worrying. Spare yourself (and others) the agony!!!

8| Love yourself

There are enough haters in this world ready to get you down. Don’t be the one doing it to your own self. Learning to love yourself, accept yourself will be one of the most important gifts you can give yourself. And while you’re at it, dial down on the hate for others. You’ll be happier, seriously.

9| What works for someone else may not work for you

And that’s okay. One of the greatest pleasures of living is discovering yourself and learning what works for you and what doesn’t. We all have different priorities, different life situations. You can surely learn from others (and really, you must!) but do not follow someone else’s path blindly. Amy Poehler says it best: “Good for her, not for me”.

10| There is a time to be accommodating, and a time to stand your ground

None of us can get through life alone, and there is always some give and take in every relationship. There is nothing to be gained from being the querulous asshole who never ever budges an inch in any situation, or the doormat whom everyone walks over. The middle ground is often an acceptable place to be at.

11| You can do anything, but you can’t do everything

This is true both at work and at home. In fact, in corporate culture, learning to delegate is one of the key ways to progress in your career. The sooner you learn this, the easier you will make it for yourself. Same goes for the home. Trying to do everything all the time might leave you with the martyr complex. There is no shame in asking for help.

12| Don’t be afraid to try new things

Your life will only be better for it, and you’ll have more stories to share. I get that trying new things can often be scary, and stepping outside of your comfort zone takes a fair bit of courage. But as my boss keeps telling me, big, wonderful things can happen when you step outside of your comfort zone.

13| Live by yourself

If you can, I would strongly suggest that you spend some time living away from home and by yourself. It changes your life perspective, makes you responsible and is an important life lesson in not taking your parents (and mothers, especially) for granted.

14| Write it down

Especially your goals. There is something so REAL about putting down your dreams and ambitions in words. And a tangible, physical reminder works way better for me than just some abstract thought in my head.

15| Know when to quit

Some things in life are just not worth it. An abusive relationship. A friendship gone sour. A bad book. Learning to quit is sometimes as important as finishing what you’ve started.

16| Learn to spend money meaningfully

Your future self will thank you for it, both for the quality purchases and for every little bit of saving.

17| Giving back is powerful, and a necessity

One of my dearest friends, on her birthday, prepared more than 50 meal bags and went around London distributing them to the homeless. In her own words, nothing had made her happier. Income inequality is real, people, and it’s only going to get worse.

You don’t need to go all radical to make a difference – every small gesture matters, every small donation counts. We should be able to use our good fortunes to help those who are not so fortunate in whatever ways we can.

I don’t do it enough, but I’ve spent a fair bit of time thinking (okay, more like fretting) about this in the last year, and I am hoping to make more meaningful commitments in the years to come.

18| Rituals are meaningful

Rituals have a way of grounding us. It could be something as simple as lighting a candle as soon as you come home from work, or something fun such as Taco Tuesday, or something productive as having an hour long planning session with your partner on Sunday evening for the week ahead.

What constitutes the ritual is not as important as having one in the first place. Try to instill some rituals in your life – it might just be the difference that you’ve been seeking all along.

19| The Sunscreen Song is good life advice

Pay attention to the advice belted out in . It is real and meaningful and golden, as all good advice should be.

20| Books >>>>>>> TV

Enough said. Books will always be my favourite pastime, and by this point, I’ve realised that they are absolutely essential to my happy life.

Do these resonate with you? What were your life lessons learned from your 20s?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.