1. When you wake up and realize you like yourself. Not because of any success you achieved or any strife you may have overcome. You just realized that over time, you’ve created a person you like.
2. The freeing awareness that you don’t know everything, and you’re never going to know everything. And all you can do is try to read and listen and learn as much as possible while you can.
3. When you decide that you can change some of your old habits. And though it might take time, effort, and consistency; and although it’s hard, it’s certainly completely worth it to become more of the person you want to be.
4. But also realizing that you can’t change everything. That you will never have that much power or control. And the freedom that comes in knowing this at different stages is especially wonderful.
5. When you take responsibility for the parts of your life you previously held others responsible for. There’s a huge gain in maturity and being able to free yourself from holding other people to an emotional ransom of sorts.
6. Getting to a place where you can take care of yourself in the practical ways, with little or no help. Whether it’s just knowing you can pay all your bills on time or stick to your budget or no longer hang onto people for unhealthy emotional attachments. There is power in this knowledge.
7. But also having the humility to ask for help when you need it. Being okay with knowing that it is not a sign of weakness to ask for help or to not know how to do something; it is a sign of humanity.
8. When you realize you’ve grown accustomed to doing the things you don’t particularly like doing, but have to do on a daily, weekly, monthly basis, etc. Whether it’s making your bed or doing the dishes; and just doing it with little complaint.
9. Accepting wholeheartedly the parts of your past that made you feel ashamed or worried. And knowing that you can learn and grow from all those things. But more importantly that you are not the sum total of any those things.
10. Learning how to be wrong and how to admit that you’re wrong when you’re wrong. It’s not an easy task for anyone at any age. But getting to those building blocks in your twenties is a fulfilling experience.
11. When you come to terms with being a flawed human being with your own set of weaknesses and imperfections. And funny enough, those are the parts of you that can make you beautiful to others and to yourself.
12. When you find the virtuous balance between “not caring what people think” and “caring too much what everyone thinks.” And most importantly, recognizing that a commitment to that balance is not a place, but a practice.
13. Getting better at knowing when to stay silent and knowing when to speak up. And getting used to the fact that both of these things take courage, as well and prudence and wisdom to know when to do either.
14. Learning to take criticism well – whether about your professional life or your personal perspectives. But also learning to decipher between criticism that is good and healthy and helpful, and criticism that seeks to destroy and belittle.
15. Being comfortable with the notion that everyone’s life is on a different path and that your need for comparison is not only futile, but unhelpful to being the person who you want to be; achieving the success you want for your life.
16. Getting used to the idea that success is and can be something that you define. That it needn’t be based on the ideologies and wishes of those around you, or the imaginary version that sections of society keep pushing you to want, even if you don’t really want those things.
17. Learning how to say sorry and meaning it. Not taking it for granted that you’ll be forgiven or simply saying it to say it. But actually feeling the pain of hurting another person with your words and actions.
18. Forgiving people who you were still silently holding grudges against. Maybe you had even verbally forgiven them or told yourself that you had, but you hadn’t. And then realizing how not forgiving them ultimately made you the prisoner.
19. Having the courage to ask for what you need from relationships with your family, friends, and (potential) significant others. And not just taking what you get.
20. Being grateful for your life as a whole more often than not. Certainly even being grateful for the things that you’ve been through, even when they’ve left you with scars. And knowing that your scars are the battle wounds that allow you to empathize with humanity as a whole; they’re the reminder to be good to people as much as possible. Because everybody has ’em.