30 Things You Have To Check Off Your Bucket List Before Turning 30
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Cataloged in Self-Improvement / Your Twenties

27 Life Lessons I’ve Gained By 27

1. It doesn’t get easier

With every age comes different challenges. We look at toddlers struggling to walk steady, we see kids learning to share while complaining when parents are forcing them to play together, we disapprove when teenagers smoke out of peer pressure in order to fit in, and we feel the stress that’s covering students with their agonizing gazes with a cup of coffee in their hands. And then we found ourselves laughing at those matters because what may seem such a struggle at that time, does seem like nothing at all anymore. And yet again, we bump into another challenge or setback – struggling, stressing, trailing and erroring and finally overcoming it again. When you thought you could handle everything by now, you start to find out that it’s not true at all.

It doesn’t get easier, but you will get stronger by the things you have experienced so far

You won’t doubt yourself as much as first and you wouldn’t beat yourself up as much as you used to do. It doesn’t get easier, but you will be more able to find ways to make it easier on yourselves.

2. I’m not a saint, I’m only human

As far as I can recall, I grew up with good manners and a good amount of humility. The type who never really dared to take risks and was feeling way too comfortable in her safety zone. So, when I finally dared to go out my shell, I made a lot of mistakes. I made decisions that had bad consequences for myself and others. People lost trust in me and I lost trust in people. I would play my mistakes over and over again in my mind to remind myself what kind of person I am when I seem to have too much fun. I would over-analyze every step and move to the point to avoid any mistakes that may occur in the future. But I was wrong because I’m not a saint, I’m only human. If I live to avoid to make mistakes, then in a way, I’m refusing my own presence, which is harmoniously balanced by all I have experienced – the good and bad. If I deny myself, then what’s the point of all this anyway?

3. Social awareness is overrated whilst self-awareness is underrated

Too often, I experience an out of body experience where I somehow am able to distance myself from a social setting to look down on myself as a third person or bystander. From that point of view – literally and figuratively – I witness what I call ‘’the play of life’’. We are performing a play in which showing honest emotions are not part of the script whilst telling white lies and making proper small talk will keep you safely inside the social circle. We repress ourselves too much by social awareness and alienates ourselves to be ‘’social’’. But isn’t the point of being social means getting to know yourself first, to be aware of oneself and feel comfortable to share your real self with the rest of the world?

Self-awareness is so underrated that we don’t know how to take the blame when we are at faults and how to take responsibility

It’s so underrated that we are not aware of our own behavior – what might be hurting others and in the end – ourselves.

4. The only thing we can control is in how we react

We have this illusion floating around us that we can control a lot, including other people’s emotions, but let me tell you, it’s just a big fat lie. The world out there is harsh at times but that doesn’t mean it should affect you so deeply every time that you are breaking inside.

Don’t let people’s words break you or doubt yourselves.

Just take it as a lesson that word has consequences. Actions too. We may not able to control the intentions of others or other external circumstances but what we can do is to look at ourselves. We can make or break by only our own decisions, in how we treat people, in how we decide to react with the ability to preserve energy. To treat ourselves gentle without involving in unnecessary drama where it’s tempting to let negative energy dominate our body and mind. Be selective in how you want to use your energy because that’s the only thing we can control.

5. You don’t have to explain everything to everyone to make a point

Our own reality is not the only reality that’s out there. Even with like-minded people, we can still feel a little bit out of synch, let alone with those you have practically nothing in common with. Then, it’s even more natural that point of views is probably clashing instead of having a reinforcing power. We tend to think that we are right most of the times. So, when our argument or point of view isn’t recognized by others, we can feel like that we are being attacked. To get rid of that feeling, we have this tenacious need to explain in thoroughly fine details where our thoughts are coming from and why those same thoughts are indeed valid. We make sure our point come across loud and clear, whilst at the same time locking out our counter partner’s thoughts. None of this is necessary to do. You don’t have to explain everything to everyone, even though you might probably be right sometimes.

Sometimes, people talk to each other, not because they want to be right, but because they want to be heard.

We should talk less and listen more and hopefully during that process – we learn more from each other instead of always following the same pattern of thoughts.

6. Health is more important than anything else

We only began to appreciate when something or someone is gone. That same goes for health. Nothing even matters anymore if we let ourselves down by eating an excessive amount of junk food and drinks. In some cases, it’s not even our own fault and that makes it even more frustrating. When our health decreases, everything else goes down too. If we don’t take proper care of ourselves – physically & mentally – we can’t possibly be fulfilled in other areas of life. It all starts with our health: the only thing we need to rely on. It’s more important than anything else.

7. The amount of productivity we put out on a day doesn’t measure our self-worth Have you ever feel bad when you have done nothing during a day? I know I did. The times when I did something productive, I would feel relieved and proud of myself that I did it again despite thinking that I have done nothing remarkable in my life so far. I would keep up with this day-by-day torture in order to keep reminding myself that I have some worth. But self-worth is not about the things we have accomplished on paper, otherwise, it would mean that a majority of the world that has no access to education or do not have the financial means to support it, has no self-worth whatsoever.

Instead, our character says a lot more about our self-worth.

The things we do for others without expecting something back in return. The things we say and share in order to bring the best out of yourself and others.

 8. My motivation for doing things was hugely influenced by others

When you don’t know yourself good enough or never learned to make decisions for yourself, it’s only natural that you do things that don’t come from yourself. This has stretched into my adulthood and I only have found out recently that I made choices purely based on other people’s opinions, like the choice of my college major which I later finally was able to confess to myself that it wasn’t what I wanted to do. This also applied to less impactful choices, like the things I did and say when surrounded by previous friends. I would adjust myself to the point that I went home exhausted from all the energy I have wasted on things I didn’t want to do and small talk and drama I didn’t want to get involved in.

Using other’s motivation or reasoning to act was a cowardly way of me to live because it was easy in a way that I didn’t have to think for myself – instead, I let others do that for me.

It was so embedded in my system that I have confused myself and others that I was just a really easy going person. But I am not. Because I do have demands for myself and I do have high expectations of myself and others. The only thing missing was trust in myself to act according to my own beliefs, morals, and values. So instead of building that trust in myself, I have thrown myself blindly in the arms of others. By the time I have strangled myself out of those arms and began to do things for myself without the influence of others – I was able to confirm it was truly coming from myself because from that point on, I got disapprovals from every side of the room. I got chills all over my body because of the novelty of taking ownership of my own thought process. I got people leaving me because they told me I had changed. The only thing that has changed is that I finally am listening to myself without letting anyone interrupting me.

9. Many friendships were formed out of convenience and habit

I have come to a point in my life that I have difficulties to form meaningful friendships. If I look back to how some of my friendships were formed, it was usually in an environment where we regularly saw each other, like school or work. Often, a mutual goal brings us together, we have things to talk about and voila: a new friendship has been formed. Given to the fact that we are all afraid to be seen alone, we rather become friends with anyone that is nice enough to share our complaints with instead of roaming through the hallways filled with the judging looks of classmates. Often, those friendships drift away as soon as the very last semester comes into the picture. Sad, but it was good for the time being. But what also happened a lot is that those friendships stay in your life out of habit.

It feels comfortable but it doesn’t particularly add value to each other’s life.

It can take a long time before you realize it. A good way to confirm the authenticity of your friendship? Struggle. Struggle and see who is coming down to your lane to show their support and love.

10. You don’t need motivation or inspiration to start something or keep the ball rolling

We always tie the fate of our actions to motivation or inspiration. We wait around to have lightbulb moments to get started. We neglect personal projects because of a lack of inspiration. We tell ourselves that we need motivation or inspiration to get going, but it’s just a fancy way to say that you are procrastinating or want to stop altogether. If we depend on such fluctuating matters as motivation or inspiration, we would never get anything done. What we really need is persistence and a clear goal in mind. Inspiration may bring genius ideas to the table but the persistence that makes small steps towards it.

11. If nothing feels right, just be

Some days are like hangovers, you feel worn out, head aching like crazy and just plain exhausted from all of it. You just want those days to be over. If nothing feels right, don’t deny it. Sit with it and just be present and aware of how you are feeling. Express if you need to. Create if you must. Talk to someone if you want. But do not deny it.

Do not go out and do things to numb your feelings.

In the end, it will just be even stronger and rushing back at you. With hangovers, if you take the proper time to rest and acknowledge the temporary damage of your body, you will soon recover again. Just like with bad days, admit if you have one, don’t run away from it and soon tomorrow is drawing near and new chances arising once again.

12. The grass always seems greener on the other side

I blamed my country and its people for my bad luck so I escaped to a place far far away from home. I have dreamed for a very long time to go there and it seemed like all my worries would wash away as soon my feet will touch the soil from the other side of the world. I was truly convinced that moving away would bring me final peace in my mind. But as soon the novelty was wearing off, I got hit again with another storm. Dumbfounded and all alone, I start to long back again and began to reflect on myself and why I couldn’t be grateful for the present I was living in. That’s because the grass always seems greener on the other side. We liked to think that others have it better than us without considering all that’s not visible to us, like their challenges they are facing just like that we are all trying to work out on our own issues.

I learned to sit down and look within instead of looking out the window to find myself greener grass to lay down on.

13. The fights you have with your partner says a lot about the depth of your relationship

Couples fights, which couple doesn’t? But it’s in those differences among those fights that distinguish the depth of relationships. Coming next year, my relationship will enter its ninth year already and it has not always been easy. Still, I couldn’t help but be proud of us when we were in the middle of a discussion that we were having. It wasn’t about whom was jealous or taking score who has done more in keeping the house clean. It wasn’t about getting mad at our partner for our own insecurity that we are responsible for. It wasn’t about fighting for the sake of creating drama in order to stir up something because of the fact that we are bored. The fights you have with your partner says a lot about the depth of your relationship.

When a relationship progresses, the fights and discussions that come with it – progress too.

It will turn into conversations that help us to understand each other more instead of those fights back in the days that were only occurring to blame one another.

14. Avoidance breeds more unresolved emotions

The sweet surrender to avoidance when facing something heads-on frighten the soul out of us. Avoidance has always been the easy way out or…..maybe not? When we avoid, it means something is unresolved. If we avoid talking it out with someone, it means that there are unresolved issues floating around. If we keep avoiding it, more and more unresolved issues are only piling up until it is unclear what exactly the core is of the problem.

Avoidance brings a temporary satisfaction of reassurance.

As soon as you are not paying attention, it comes back crawling to you in your most vulnerable form, asking you where you stand. It will take you by surprise and make you release kinds of emotions in you that you never thought you had it. Avoidance breeds only more unresolved emotions. What stays unresolved will always keep tabs open in your mind, making you restless and unable to move on.

15. It’s all about perspective

We as people adapt to what the world offers us. My life is just a tiny part of the ever moving and limitless Universe. Zooming in, we are intelligent with consciousness and senses. We stress about problems that do not exist in other parts of the world. We all like to think that our presence makes a difference.

Zooming out, we are all just specks of dust.

It’s all about perspective. Using this lesson helps me to sort my thoughts out, keep my mind open and flexible, keep me humble and grateful for the fact that I get to experience life in this form and given the chance to move it in whatever way I want.

16. My love for writing comes from a deep need to get heard

I was 8, sitting in a circle of kids and an impatient teacher, waiting for me to tell them what I did during my weekend. When I finally opened my mouth, instead of listening, I got told that I had a very soft voice.

I was 15, preparing to give my presentation. It was not bad but again, I had a very soft voice says my teacher with a disapproving look. I was 23, sharing my deepest fears to my girlfriends. With much struggle and scraping some courage, I was managed to finish, only to find out that one of them was constantly on her phone and has not listened to me at all.

I was 26, telling people that I was about to go to Australia to better myself. Instead of just listening to me, taking me seriously or being happy for me, I got questioned like I did something wrong.

I have always felt that no one took me seriously or want to listen to me when I have something to share. So for a very long time, I just shut up and hold in all my thoughts.

I feel like I always need to scream to get my voice heard when everyone else is just speaking at their own volume.

So I turned my back to writing where I could speak at my own pace and volume, without feeling embarrassed by my own voice, which I thought was soft and weak. Which I later found out due to my writings that it wasn’t soft at all.

17. At my worst, I’m deeply insecure and craving for connection

One of the perks of growing up is that you will learn to see your own strengths and weaknesses. You will begin to see a pattern of the way you operate when placed in a specific kind of situation. Situations that require me to put myself as the center of the room or verbally express myself clearly still stresses me out. It is during those moments that I would doubt my abilities – my whole self. I would play failures over and over again like an old playlist to found out that a part of me was still that insecure girl from back of those days. That same girl who was longing for real connection and meaningful conversations.

18. At my best, I inspire others

On the other hand, if I’m in my sweet spot, loose from resistance and pressure, I got to thrive into my potential which I later found out was to inspire others through my writings. Since I started writing and has taken it more serious, several people have reached out to me and thanked me for the stories I have shared with the world. It opened my eyes and my readers have taught me that every one of us has a gift stored inside of us.

At my best, I inspire others.

At my best, I’m unstoppable and will keep writing to help make sense of everything I experience and everything that will come down my way to help others along the way of their own journey.

19. Dogs are and will always be better than humans

The caption says enough.

20. You are not being selfless if your motivations are corrupt

We all like to think that we all are selfless human beings. But to be truly selfless is a really hard characteristic to obtain. You would think it’s in the things we do. Partly, yes. But it’s also what our motivations are towards a selfless cause.

If you only help others to come across as a helpful person or to boost your image, then you are not being selfless at all.

Only when our motivations and actions align with each other can we truly work towards to be a better person. Be honest with yourself why you are doing the things that you are doing.

21. I don’t need religion to have morals

To continue on with my previous point. Not to disrespect anyone who is religious, it’s only a point of view of myself. Personally, I had never come in contact with religion from my upbringing. I did have a lot of examples around me who were doing things, not because they truly wanted to be a good person, but they have learned to behave within the protocol.

We shouldn’t need a reason to have morals – be it religion or anything else.

We should not only blindly obey without thinking for ourselves first. We should not only follow rules just because it has already been established for thousands of years. We should learn to observe and judge strictly while staying open-minded.

22. Introversion is not a weakness

For so long, I thought there was something wrong with myself. Fond of spending time in solitude and quietness, I couldn’t wrap my head around why I was like that. For so long, I tried to be more outgoing and threw myself under the people on purpose to come across as a perfectly functioning human being. I always check which way the wind blows before acting on it. I remembered captioning a photo of myself as The Wallflower and the next day I got questioned why I would describe myself as something negative. At work, I got told off to be more extroverted. After meetings with friends, I always ended up exhausted and worn out. In many ways, my own nature always pointed to the negative way, so I thought it was just another weakness of mine that I needed to work on.

But then one day my sister showed me the MBTI test and I took it.

I was perplexed of how accurate the test was about my personality. I always have suspected that I was an introvert. The real eye-opener came afterward when I obsessively started to do research about introversion. My introversion is not a weakness. It’s not better to be extroverted. We are just wired differently and react differently to low or high stimulation. Since that day I took that test, I felt like a huge brick has fallen off my shoulders.

23. Love is in what we give

Not in the form of materialistic goods nor with the intention to get something out of it. We can even still love without having a relationship with the person we are in love with. Love is in what we give without taking score how many turns you already have taken compared to your partner. It’s the support when it has not been asked for. It’s giving an ear to listen to understand, not to respond. It’s giving space to acknowledge them as an individual and not as a part of you in a couple form.

It’s saying ‘’I love you’’ without expecting them to say it back to you.

It’s taking care of our own emotional well-being without lashing it out or blaming it on them. It is respecting boundaries without feeling privileged to have to know everything. Love is not happily smiling when all requirements have been met, love is in meeting them halfway and not expect them to guide for the rest of the path that you are sharing. It’s helping each other out when you both seem lost and taking turns to rest to fuel yourself up again to continue to walk down the path of companionship.

24. Don’t force out a smile for the sake of others

Been there, done that. Save the smiles for the real deals. Save it for yourself. Share it when it’s genuine. Don’t force anything that’s not good for your own well-being. Fake it till you make it doesn’t count here. I used to smile and lighten the atmosphere around people in order to keep everyone satisfied and happy. Not everyone apparently, because I always seem to forget one important person: myself.

25. My idealist view on life results in constant disappointments

My mind is constantly in a utopia where everyone treats each other kind and compassionate. Rainbows clouds covering the sky and cotton candy snowing to down below. I always need to wake myself up from daydreams and confront myself that it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. Some days, I get the hang of it and can even be downright realistic towards life, but some days are harder when my mind is in the clouds again, hoping for a world where we live side by side without having the need to conquer, start wars and lie to uphold images.

26. Go all-in or go home

Don’t half-ass it. Do something wholeheartedly or don’t do it at all. Be it work. Be it a relationship.

27. Be grateful for everything

At the end of the day, we only have one life to spend. Looking back now, I had it pretty good so far. We tend to feel resentment towards experiences that throw us out of balance or even off the whole road. It makes us confused and disoriented, wondering how we can go back. It makes us feel lost and frustrated when we can’t seem to find our way back. Still, be grateful for everything, because no one deserves anything but we still get to experience some spectacular episodes that we can always play back to watch to keep a sense of wonder around us. TC mark