21 Lessons I’ve Learned About Life In 21 Years Of Living

Flickr / Vinoth Chandar
Flickr / Vinoth Chandar

1. The idea that ‘to be loved you must love yourself’ is a lie.

I hate this phrase, I absolutely despise it. It is completely, utterly and irrevocably bullshit. The people who preach this to the masses are liars and at absolute best, misguided. The sentiment is dangerous, it is damaging and it is killing people inside. People with serious illnesses, incapable of self love for various reasons, are ripped to shreds over this damning sentence and for no good reason. You do not have to love yourself to be loved. Repeat it. Repeat it again.

2. That you are what you eat.

Face it, your teenage years are behind you and it’s time to stop believing that your metabolism will do away with all that junk you eat. If you want to be fit and of a healthy weight you must eat better, at appropriate times, at the correct proportions and exercise. You’ll thank yourself at 40.

3. That there is no need to stay up all night.

It’s wasteful and you need a routine. Not to mention those precious hours of sleep to help keep yourself healthy mentally and physically. Read this carefully; you need nine hours of sleep. Nothing more, nothing less. Put down your phone, get off your computer, stick to your bedtime. You’ll feel better and you’ll achieve more.

4. That you should indulge yourself.

Not all the time, but make the time. Life is busy, it is hectic and it’ll drive you mad if you do not take an hour for yourself to relax. Have that milk bath, moisturise your feet. Read that book. Bake that brownie recipe. Have a quiet drink with that close friend you haven’t seen in months. Down time is so important; never, ever forget that.

5. That not having a filter is not a valid excuse to be rude to people.

I have nothing else to add.

6. To learn from the experience of your elders.

They won’t be around forever and they have so much to give. So many lessons, so much wisdom and a lifetime of rich experience. Whether they’re your grandparents, an elderly neighbour or the veteran of 40 years in your workplace there is always something you can and should learn from them.

7. To actually follow your dreams.

The herd goes from high school to university. That is the common and accepted path. But that doesn’t make it the only one. If your dreams don’t include tertiary education, do not sink in debt out of obligation. Do something for yourself, that you enjoy, that actually contributes to the future you imagine for yourself and want. Not everyone will like it, but you’re not here to please everyone else.

8. That it’s okay to spend all your money.

Waste it all. You’re only young enough to get away with it once in your life. Spend it all on vodka, Grey’s Anatomy and petrol. Spend it on food. Be frivolous, be free. Don’t regret it. Live.

9. But then you should save.

Save. Save. Save. Save. Save your money. Save it for holidays. Save it for rainy days. Save it for emergencies. Save it for upgrades. Save it for bills. Just save it.

10. To Document it.

Our memories are far from perfect and we’ll likely want to remember all those details down the track that we’ll have long forgotten. Keep a journal for your thoughts and the details. Take photos for the colour, the atmosphere, the fun, the horror and just for the fun.

11. Don’t hang out with people you don’t like.

News flash: you don’t have to be friends with people you don’t like. It’s frustrating, stressful, annoying and makes you feel like crap. There’s no need to curry favour or surround yourself with people who offer you nothing but bad vibes, bad feelings and bad attitude. Cut them loose, you’ll feel better.

12. To ask for help when you need it.

Suffering silently sucks and it’s completely unnecessary. I completely understand this need we have at this age to solve our problems ourselves, but sometimes this is impractical. Suck it up and ask your parents, your families, your friends, doctors, whoever for help. You will not regret this.

13. To not dwell too long on what has been.

What happened has happened and your dwelling on it past learning what there was to be learnt is obstructive and detrimental. Take a deep breath, count to ten and let it go. You will be happier.

14. To work to maintain an open mind.

There is nothing “traditional” about life anymore. If tradition doesn’t suit you then you don’t have to operate within it’s parameters. Be open to all things; other people, men/women/others you don’t consider your type, jobs you’d normally overlook, foods you’d normally not try, places you’d normally not go. Live for the experience.

15. To have an opinion.

Challenge yourself to think about social challenges and world events. View issues from a position that encompasses all that you believe in and allow yourself to have an opinion. Be informed. Be worldly. Be part of the change.

16. To be strong about what you believe in.

If you believe in something, don’t let others tell you that you’re wrong. Do not let others wilt your spirit, your values or your beliefs. They are yours. The indeterminable amount of differences in opinion is what brings change in the world. You never have to follow the crowd.

17. To challenge yourself to work a job you hate.

Work a job that punishes you. Work an unworkable job. Work a job filled with coworkers you cannot understand. Work a job that offers a whole new perspective on life. It’s character building and honestly, you’ll have a bucketful of a fabulous stories to tell for years.

18. To set goals.

Even vague ones, but give yourself something to work towards. Something that will motivate you to get out of bed each day and help you push through difficult times. Work out where you want to be in 5, 10, 15 years. Think about how you can make this happen. Constantly work at it.

19. To set yourself free.

Take responsibility for your life. Pay your bills, buy your food, look after your pet. Get health insurance, get a credit card and maintain good credit. Learn to be an adult.

20. That it’s okay to feel things.

Feel the awful, crippling sadness that comes with a break up. The anger and disappointment that comes with not getting that promotion. That happiness and joy that comes with being published. The pride in getting a commendation for your work. You’re human, feel. You don’t have to hide your sensitivity from the world. And don’t let others dictate your feelings. They are yours.

21. That life is not short.

Life is literally the longest thing that any of us will experience. Chances are you’ll have more than one career. More than one partner. More than one best friend. More than one group of friends. More than one house. More than one degree. More than one of just about everything. Life is a long journey and it’s important to balance living in the present with living in the future. TC mark

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