11 Life Lessons from a 20-Something Slowly Piecing His Own Life Together

1. Writing speaks louder than talking

Everybody talks.  And these days a solid majority of the things coming out of people’s mouths is usually a lie.  People can say anything with complete confidence without having any sort of evidence or real conviction.  When you take the time to write something though, that means that you have something you really feel you need to say, and that you believe it enough to invest time and effort into it.  This always speaks louder than the spoken word.

2. Our bodies require little, but society requires a lot

When it comes right down to it, we need very little as a human being to survive and continue our existence.  The occasional nourishment, the air we breathe, and maybe somewhere to sleep and some human interaction every now and then.  Everything else is erroneous.  All these other things that we think we “need” are simply pressures and expectations applied to us from some outside force.  Too often these outside pressures are what drive our decisions in life, and not the inside pressures driven by our heart and soul.

3. When you’re always chasing something, you forget to enjoy the chase

Throughout most of our lives, especially in childhood, there is always some sort of goal or destination in the near future that we are taught to strive for.  We’re told that achieving these certain things will bring us happy and fulfilling lives.  But no matter what you may be chasing at the moment, or what achievement you may be working towards, it will not bring you happiness.  There will always be a next step in your chase.  No matter how much you achieve or purchase your focus will simply switch to the next step.  The only way to avoid this cycle is to slow down to just enjoy where you currently are; and that is the only place where true happiness can be found.

4. The only way to guarantee failure is not even trying

Take it from someone who has spent his entire life living in constant fear of rejection: the only way to make any sort of real progress in life or as a human being is to put yourself out there.  Sure it may hurt less to just put up walls and always make the safe decisions, but hurt will still find you eventually.  Pain and rejection will pass, but regret will stay with you much longer.  I have spent so much time reanalyzing past mistakes where I either did or didn’t do something that I clearly should have, instead of trying to find ways to fix them in the present, or figuring out how to not make similar mistakes in the future.  A lifetime of failures is not only more fulfilling but more noble than a lifetime of regret.

5. The only thing you’re guaranteed in life is death

This may sound a little bleak or gloomy but it is one of the only things that we can be absolutely sure of in our short existence on this planet.  Nobody knows when it’s coming or how long they have left, but it’s coming for all of us eventually.  And that’s pretty much the only thing we know we have coming in life.  No matter where you may come from or what you think you may be entitled to, none of it is guaranteed.  All of it can be taken away from you at a moment’s notice, and there’s nothing you can do about it.  The only thing you can do is make sure you get the most out of what you have while you have it, and hope that it’s not going away any time soon.

6. The only way to fix your problems is to face them head on

We’ve all got our issues.  In this day and age more than any other, there’s a lot of really messed up people out there.  But for some reason most of these people still think that they’re just fine.  We live in a society where it’s normal to just try and forget about your problems or try and hide them away and just pretend that they’re not there.  We take pills to make us feel normal or we self-medicate and numb ourselves to the pressing issues dancing around in our heads.  This is never going to fix any of the problems with the world and its inhabitants.  The only way to make any sort of progress as an individual and as a society is to admit that there’s something wrong and try to work towards changing it.

7. It’s ok not to be ok

Not sure how I feel about borrowing a line from a female pop star here, but this line definitely struck me the first time I heard the song.  I had always been taught to just be strong as a kid, and never show any sort of weakness or hurt to the outside world, no matter how not ok I may have been at the time.  We all hurt sometimes; some more than others.  Yet most of us are taught to just be happy with the way things are because they could be much worse.  How many times a day do you tell someone you’re good because you know that’s what they want to hear?  I’m not saying you should start unloading your problems on the everyday passer-by, but everyone should have someone they can talk candidly to, and admit that maybe they’re not ok 100% of the time.

8. You can’t truly love others until you love yourself first

I know this is kinda cliché, but even I wasn’t really a believer until I actually started loving myself.  I think before, I was honestly just too afraid to admit to myself that I didn’t even like, let alone love, the person that I was turning in to.  I had spent my entire life putting myself down because I didn’t live up to certain expectations or fit a certain mold.  What I didn’t realize is that even the people that had all these things still weren’t really happy, and that I had a lot of better qualities to offer than those that we are taught to strive for.  Once I was able to focus on the good things about myself and stop constantly comparing myself to others to find the bad things, the world became a little bit easier to live in.  We all have our faults, but we all have our strengths too, and maybe if we spent a little more time focusing on the good instead finding others faults and putting them down, the world could be easier to live in for everyone.

9. Learn to be alright with or even excited about alone time

For some reason in today’s society being alone seems to be synonymous with being lonely.  These are two very different things.  Sure sometimes if you’re alone you’re going to be lonely, but the two are not mutually exclusive.  We are all so massively connected on a global scale these days that it is difficult to get away.  We are all readily available at the push of a button, and with the current stigma associated with being alone, people constantly try to cling to one another.  We all need a little alone time every now and then.  We need to stop defining ourselves through other people and be alright with who we are and what we like to do when no one else is watching.

10. You’re not gonna learn what you don’t want to know

I spent four years paying thousands of dollars to study something that it took me four years to realize that I could care a less about.  Now I’m stuck with a degree in a field that I adamantly don’t want to work in and an education that consisted mostly of forgetting everything immediately following the examination.  I may have gotten decent grades in the classes, but I never put in any extra effort, or attended any sort of extracurricular activities.  Don’t waste your time and money like I did.  Find something you’re passionate about and put your heart and soul into it.  If you don’t have a passion yet then you either haven’t looked hard enough or you’ve been told by someone that you shouldn’t pursue it.  Neither one of these is an acceptable excuse.  Being a slave in a job you hate and don’t care about may be a way to provide a life; but passion is the only thing really worth living for.

11. People that lash out at you are really just mad at themselves

This was a difficult one for me to get a handle on, but it’s absolutely true.  People have the tendency to pick out the slightest flaws and simply tear someone apart because of it.  This speaks much more about the aggressor however than the one being torn apart.  People get mad at you simply because you have somehow upset there inner vision of how the world should be.  That is all.  The good people are able to deal with this in stride and accept a flowing picture of the world, but the ones that are incredibly closed minded and convinced of their position seem to think its ok to try and fit everyone else into their mold.  Seeing that these episodes are reflections on them and not on yourself is a big step in accepting the world around you. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

More From Thought Catalog