30 Life Lessons I Learned in My 20’s

I thought this day would never come, but I am six days away from turning 30. I would have to change both the digits of my age in all the pre-filled internet forms.

A twenty-something me was working for software and finance giants, drinking way too much, vomiting often in pubs and on Karnataka – Tamil Nadu highways, angry with family, running after people, quitting work, roaming around the world on my own when my mother thought I was at home or traveling with a friend, falling in love too many times, living in with someone knowing the relationship was not going anywhere and feeling shattered when the obvious happened, cooking in restaurants and my own kitchen for hours, leaving for Italy to attend a culinary course, dragging strangers to dance floors in pubs and bars, stranded at South American borders, taking lifts from random people on streets at random times, and saying things that should have been kept private; I was unsure of what I wanted.

Also Read: Let Your Life Flow Freely – She Knows Her Course Better than You Do.

 Though I still do a lot of those things, I, at least, have the right reasons now. Roman philosopher Seneca truly said, “The most important knowledge is that which guides the way you lead your life.” Goals are only rewards along your journey. Mario pops out the super mushroom and fire flower and becomes Super Mario; we also become better with time at what we do. He gets a princess at the end of his quest; our quest leads us to death.

Every day, the smallest of the things that we do make up who we are and what we would become. And that is all we got.

As writer and blogger Paul Jun said in this article, “The goal is absolutely secondary: it is the functioning towards the goal which is important.”

Also Read: What is the Meaning of Life

 

Here are the life lessons I learned in my 20’s. Or my list of the things that matter.

 

1. Accept and Let Go —

I took three years to accept that my ex-boyfriend was still not sure about me and that his declining interest had nothing to do with him not wanting to get married, which is what he had said. If I had faced this fact, as my friends told me, and had moved on, I would have saved some time. You need to acknowledge things even when they are not explicitly said to your face. Not everyone would do you that favor. And then, let go — don’t fight. Even bending back in yoga becomes easy when you stop fighting to keep your body upright. A Chilean friend of mine once said, “El que estés tranquila es solo un proceso metal” — that you are peaceful is most important.

2. Laugh and Make People Laugh —

Whenever someone joked about me, I laughed — turning the frowns into smiles. Not losing the humor about yourself and making people laugh goes a long way. As Robert Frost said, ”If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane.”

3. Running Behind Other’s Goals Would Leave You Nowhere —

Many of my friends gave GRE and GMAT during the last year of University while looking for jobs. I wondered if accepting the job offer I got during campus placement was the smartest thing to do. It was. I never wanted to do an MBA or an MS or a Ph.D., and I am glad that peer pressure could not push me far enough. Many friends did MBA for reasons they can’t recall. Many colleagues had done MBA and were doing the same work and earning similar. Not a lot of people know what they are doing — don’t make their goals yours due to peer pressure.

4. Find Your Calling —

I now know what I want to do. But I had to fight with everyone who loves and cares for me, save up, stay up nights, resign, get fired, move countries, teach English, and work two jobs at the same time. I rode enough roller coasters to say that it is worth it. And twenties is the best time to figure out what you want to do or to start over. Maria Popova, a famous blogger, said, “Intricate work and life in an inextricable fusion.” Breathe your work, bleed it.

Also Read: Why Starting Over is the Answer Sometimes and How to Do it?

 

life lessons i learned in my 20's

 

5. Be Confident. Believe in Your Dreams. Work Hard —

The way I want to grow this blog is my vision. Many friends have already told me that I would fail. Meryl Streep was once told that she was too ugly to act in a movie. Your vision is only yours. As cliched as it sounds, believing in your dreams is the first step towards achieving them. And then stay the course, work hard. Whenever I tried the easy way — I finished before the finish line. Albert Einstein said, “Genius is 1% talent and 99% percent hard work.”

6. You Can’t Hide Behind Fate —

In India, during wars between two kingdoms, women jumped in wells to escape rape by the other king and his soldiers — that is fate. I really want to do this but I can’t — that is not fate. I don’t own a restaurant because my brother talked me into not opening one or my brother in law changed his mind about the partnership. Unlucky, right? No, I never wanted to do it, not yet. Arunima Sinha, a woman with an amputated leg, climbed Mount Everest. If you are not doing something right now, you were not planning to do it ever.

Also Read: How to Achieve Your Goals – 12 Principles That I Have Stuck to Since I Was Fifteen Years Old

7. Work Intelligently —

You need to make your work reach the right people intelligently. I not only have to write brilliant articles, but I need to make sure people read them.

8. You Can Go Easy on Money — 

I did not have a husband, children, car loan, or financially dependent parents. I could afford to earn less or nothing to pursue my passions, travel, live in another country, learn languages, and more. You have the least responsibilities in your twenties.

Also read: 25 Tips for Learning a Foreign Language

9. Family Is Important —

Way more than you think. Parents love you the most. They are not always right, don’t express correctly, and cross the space boundaries, way too often. But staying angry at them does not help. You would stay up nights recalling the emotional blackmail your mother put you through to call you back to India or how your brother lectured you for hours to discuss what was wrong with the photos on your blog. When it comes to family, there is no right or wrong. They slowly start coming along.

10. Build Long-Lasting Relationships —

Making a lot of friends and going crazy kept me going sometimes. On a rainy day, my robust support system is my hot cup of tea. It carries me when I cannot walk. 

Also Read: Why Relationships are Important and How to Build Them

11. Eat Well —

A replenished stomach solves half of my problems. When we are busy in our life, we easily ignore food. But isn’t it one of the necessities? Didn’t we start hunting and agriculture for food? Keep that in mind the next time you skip breakfast and crumble through your work.

12. Cook —

No, not two-minute instant noodles. Cooking is one of the most important and underestimated skills that has supported me through the years. I cooked when I was sick or abroad or at my parent’s to give them a break or for my partner when he was late for a meeting. Why not cook when you can eat healthier, tastier, and cheaper?

 

life lessons i learned in my 20's

 

13. Travel —

I possibly can’t emphasize this enough. My South America flight tickets might have cost me the rent for many months, but I am glad that I did not rather spend that money on expensive dresses or boyfriends or parties or lip glosses. I still do not think twice before booking tickets as I know they would be worth the expense. Travel made me compassionate, kept me grounded, took me out of my comfort zone way too many times, and exposed me to things that I hadn’t even imagined. It made me who I am. Don’t let your twenties slip away without traveling.

Also Read: Why Do I Travel and Live a Nomadic Life

14. Buy What You Need — 

I have never used some of my most expensive clothes. There are no such emergencies when you can’t buy clothes, and if there are, I am sure nobody would care what you are wearing. So, hold your horses. Live a compact life, which is easy to pack into a suitcase as and when needed.

15. Work Out —

One day I could wake up and hike that active volcano my crazy Canadian friend wanted to. Don’t party away your twenties to realize the importance of health when you almost faint climbing four staircases.

Also Read: How to Make a Schedule – To Live and Work Better

16. Find Your Therapy —

Writing helps me to express and vent out. Venting out, often, helps. Find your stress busters.

Also Read: An Open Letter to My Mind

17. Solve Basics First —

My laptop was hung, and instead of completely fixing it, I spent hours trying to work on it, while I pulled-off almost half my hair. Formatting it and then working helped me breathe. Replace laptop with whatever. Save time and peace of mind.

18. Keep the Basic Routine Sane —

If you sleep well, you work better with a good mood. If you get up on time, you can work for more hours. If you don’t visit the dentist, you might end up stuck at the border refugee center with bleeding gums and an aching tooth. Get the basics right.

19. Set Goals For Every day — 

I have accepted that I am not Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot is. Not trying to do everything lets you do so much more.

20. Stay Updated — 

I have been in my world, way too long and way too often. Nothing good came out of my obliviousness. A breakup or a nagging boss does not justify the ignorance. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” Arundhati Roy’s fictional characters are integrated with the political movements of India. When you are more connected to the world, you are better prepared.

21. Fall in Love — 

Love is an emotional roller coaster; you are the highest and the lowest as you scream out your tonsils. It is not everything. But there is nothing like it.

Also Read: Why Do We Need a Life Partner and Where to Find One

22. Love Hurts —

Only a breakup could make me stay hungry for two days straight. Be prepared to get screwed multiple times, and nothing can prepare you. But with every heartbreak, you come closer to your self. Enjoy.

23. Drag Yourself Out of Bed —

The days I stayed in bed, not wanting to go to work, wouldn’t come back. You might have a hundred reasons to stay in bed, and maybe none to get out of it, but drag yourself out. Moving on with day to day activities, shower, work out, food, work, music, phone calls, watching your favorite sitcoms, makes you feel better.

Also Read: Cracking The Art of Learning with Josh Waitzkin – Let’s Learn from the Best

 

life lessons i learned in my 20's

24. Say Sorry —

Quickly. It resolves everything easily. Apologizing didn’t make me less of a woman, instead made me bigger. I wish I had owned up to my shortcomings more often. Don’t blame your partner or friends or family. It might be easier for a short-term but not for a long run. Imagine copying an assignment and getting marks. But you have to give the finals, right?

25. Be Polite —

With everyone. Live your day as if no one is looking. Then you don’t have to worry about anything popping up unannounced.

26. Look Good —

Looking good has eased my way into people’s hearts, almost always. First and all other impressions are important irrespective of what people have been telling you. Sorry, the world is unfair.

27. Learn to be Alone —

You would need it more times than you can imagine. There were times when I — one with a thriving social life — sent fifteen WhatsApp messages to meet people, but I still ended alone. I manage it much better now, but I had to learn.

Also Read: Traveling Through Thailand – And Realizing What Was Wrong With Me.

28. Make Sacrifices —

I live a minimal life with necessary clothes and shoes and other essential items. My friends Netflix endlessly at the end of the day, while I open up my kindle or search for a movie based on a book to understand how the novelist built the strong characters. I realize what I am giving up for my dreams, and the sacrifices make it much more worthwhile.

29. You are Responsible for Your Happiness —

Don’t oblige others to judge and fix your mood. Be easy on yourself and them during those short-term emotional swings.

 

life lessons i learned in my 20's

 

30. Breathe —

It solves almost everything. As Anne Lamott said in her Ted talk, “Almost everything starts working when we unplug it for a few minutes, even Us.”

The changes do not seem obvious, and I didn’t feel myself changing. But when I look back, I see a different younger me the one aware but unsure of what matters. I have stormed out of my twenties, almost, realizing how much isn’t a problem.

Also Read: 15 Things We Care Too Much About

 

Could you relate to the life lessons I learned in my 20’s?  What did you go through in your twenties?

42 Comments

  1. Pingback: Teach English in Chile – All You Need To Know About English Open Doors Volunteer Program - Let's Look at It Differently

  2. Justina Kaatz May 23, 2018 at 10:43 am

    Just fabulous. Who wrote this and how can we get more?

    Reply
  3. Mitchel Wuestenberg May 22, 2018 at 3:17 pm

    I can’t believe how great this site is. You keep up the good work. That’s my advice pal.

    Reply
  4. download May 15, 2018 at 5:22 pm

    Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wished to say that I have truly enjoyed surfing around
    your blog posts. In any case I will be subscribing to your feed
    and I hope you write again soon!

    Reply
  5. Jack November 13, 2017 at 1:04 pm

    Just a smiling visitor here to share the love (:, btw great style and design. “The price one pays for pursuing a profession, or calling, is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side.” by James Arthur Baldwin.

    Reply
    1. Priyanka Gupta November 14, 2017 at 10:34 pm

      Thanks for reading and leaving your feedback Jack. 🙂
      Great quote. Thanks.

      Please stay connected.

      Reply
  6. Priyanka Gupta November 9, 2017 at 11:34 pm

    Thanks Gouptosky. I could not be happier that she enjoyed the blog.

    Really appreciate your comments and generosity. So gracious of you to say all of this. Please stay connected. Thanks 🙂

    Reply
  7. Priyanka Gupta November 9, 2017 at 11:21 pm

    Thanks Gouptosky. Appreciate your comments 🙂

    I am really thankful and glad that my writing helped you in any way.

    Thank you,
    Priyanka

    Reply
  8. borvest inkral November 8, 2017 at 9:38 am

    he blog was how do i say it… relevant, finally something that helped me. Thanks

    Reply
    1. Priyanka Gupta November 9, 2017 at 11:18 pm

      Thank you so much Borvest.

      I am glad you liked the blog and that I could be of help. Appreciate your comments. Please keep visiting and reading.
      Regards,
      Priyanka

      Reply
  9. gouptosky November 7, 2017 at 1:25 pm

    Thank you for all your valuable effort on this web page. Betty take interest in carrying out investigation and it’s really obvious why. My spouse and i notice all concerning the compelling way you create sensible guidelines on the blog and as well as boost participation from other individuals about this idea while my simple princess is in fact studying a lot. Take pleasure in the remaining portion of the year. You’re performing a pretty cool job.

    Reply
    1. Priyanka Gupta November 9, 2017 at 11:18 pm

      Thanks again 🙂
      Regards to your spouse as well.

      Reply
  10. gouptosky November 7, 2017 at 3:23 am

    I not to mention my guys ended up reading through the great tactics on your web blog and then quickly got an awful suspicion I had not thanked the blog owner for those techniques. The young boys happened to be for this reason very interested to read all of them and have really been having fun with these things. Thanks for turning out to be very kind and for considering this sort of magnificent ideas most people are really desperate to understand about. My very own sincere apologies for not expressing appreciation to you earlier.

    Reply
    1. Priyanka Gupta November 9, 2017 at 11:17 pm

      Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
      You are very open and appreciative with your comments. I am glad I could be of any help.

      Don’t be apologetic about anything. I appreciate your honesty 🙂
      Thanks,
      Priyanka

      Reply
  11. gouptosky November 6, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    I would like to convey my appreciation for your kind-heartedness in support of individuals who really want assistance with this one matter. Your real dedication to passing the message all over came to be wonderfully advantageous and have frequently helped somebody much like me to arrive at their objectives. This informative advice denotes a lot a person like me and especially to my office colleagues. Thanks a ton; from everyone of us.

    Reply
    1. Priyanka Gupta November 9, 2017 at 11:16 pm

      Hey Gouptosky,

      Thank you so much for your generous comments. I am glad that my writing could help you and your colleagues in any way.

      Really appreciate you investing time in my website. Thanks a lot.
      Please stay connected.
      Regards,
      Priyanka

      Reply
  12. i thought about this October 23, 2017 at 1:34 am

    I simply want to mention I am just new to blogging and site-building and really loved this web-site. More than likely I’m going to bookmark your site . You definitely have very good article content. Bless you for revealing your webpage.

    Reply
    1. Priyanka Gupta November 3, 2017 at 3:36 pm

      Thank you so much. I appreciate your generous comments. Grateful that you found my website worth to bookmark. Please keep reading.

      Have fun 🙂
      Priyanka

      Reply
  13. Fred Okpan October 6, 2017 at 11:19 pm

    A good read. i have learned. Keep up the goog work

    Reply
    1. Priyanka Gupta October 6, 2017 at 11:39 pm

      Thanks Fred for reading and your comment 🙂

      Glad you liked the post.

      Please stay connected 🙂

      Reply
  14. Dorian McKinney September 28, 2017 at 1:56 am

    I enjoyed reading as this as I wrote one myself. You and I share similar interests and it appears we both have learned a lot over the last 30 years. Cheers to life lessons you learned and to the many more ahead of us!

    Reply
    1. Priyanka Gupta September 28, 2017 at 1:03 pm

      Thanks Dorian for reading and leaving your thoughts. I enjoyed yours too. 🙂

      Yes, life is all about learning.

      Please stay connected 🙂

      Reply
  15. Zenaida Snachez September 25, 2017 at 3:17 am

    Merely wanna remark on few general things, The website design and style is perfect, the subject material is rattling excellent : D.

    Reply
    1. Priyanka Gupta September 25, 2017 at 9:04 pm

      Thanks Zenaida. I am glad you enjoyed the content.

      I have tried to keep the website design simple and reader friendly. Glad you liked it. Let me know if there is anything I can improve.

      Stay connected.
      Priyanka

      Reply
  16. ergfir nolikz September 21, 2017 at 1:26 am

    I really appreciate this post. I have been looking all over for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You’ve made my day! Thx again

    Reply
    1. Priyanka Gupta September 21, 2017 at 10:06 am

      Thanks Ergfir for reading and leaving your opinion.

      I am glad you liked the post. Happy to be of help.

      You made my day with your comment. Please stay connected 🙂

      Reply
  17. Surabhi September 15, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    Very thoughtfully curated points! I will come back to this one when feeling lost 🙂

    Reply
    1. Priyanka Gupta September 15, 2017 at 12:47 pm

      Thank you for reading Surabhi. Yes, please. Stay connected 🙂

      Reply
  18. Shashank September 6, 2017 at 3:17 pm

    Hey Priyanka,
    I would like to know how to keep myself motivated. somehow. i am motivated but unable to execute even a single thing, be it jogging, exercising reading tech stuff or any thing. Seriously need help to achieve something. The whole problem is my inability of execution.

    Reply
    1. Priyanka Gupta September 6, 2017 at 3:38 pm

      Hi Shashank,

      Thank you for reading the blog and for leaving your honest thoughts.

      First of all, breathe 🙂

      If you are motivated enough, you will execute. If you don’t feel like jogging maybe it is not your thing at all. Maybe, you would enjoy playing badminton more. If you don’t like reading tech stuff, don’t force yourself. Read something else. It depends on what you want to achieve. If you really want to become a tech expert, you would read about it, write about it, and experiment the latest technologies out there. Else, you would find excuses to not do it. I never liked learning new technological infrastructures and jargons, and I gave myself and others the lamest of the excuses to not go for the full dissection.

      Don’t worry about the goals that maybe were never yours.

      You understand? Define yourself first – your aspirations, your likings, what is important to you, what makes you cringe, what keeps you up at night. Figure that out first. Start from a clean slate. And then think about executing. If thinking does not help, start executing, various things, and then you will find the ones meant for you. Like at the gym, try yoga, zumba, weight lifting, running, etc. See which one you enjoyed the most, which one you would want to go again for? Which one is worth the muscle pain?

      Let me know if this helps.

      Stay connected. 🙂

      Reply
  19. Pragati September 5, 2017 at 5:22 pm

    Good one Priyanka! Surely is coming from your heart. I am aligned on most of the experiences here.

    On the other end, wish it was smaller 🙂

    Reply
    1. Priyanka Gupta September 5, 2017 at 8:07 pm

      Thanks Pragati for reading and the comment 🙂 I am sure you are aligned 🙂

      Yes, I keep a top limit on the article length but this one had some close to heart things that I just could not delete. Hope you stayed engaged 🙂

      Reply
  20. Shanky Mittal September 5, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    Really nice article Priyanka. Very inspiring.

    Reply
    1. Priyanka Gupta September 5, 2017 at 4:15 pm

      Thank you Shanky for visiting. I am glad you liked the post 🙂

      Stay connected 🙂

      Reply
  21. Ravi September 5, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    Nice points sorted out. Few remain to follow. Thanks senior buddy 😀

    Reply
    1. Priyanka Gupta September 5, 2017 at 3:19 pm

      haha.. thanks Ravi for visiting and for the comment 🙂

      Glad to be of help. Do remember the main points that hit you. Hopefully, I have added some value 🙂
      Stay connected 🙂

      Reply
  22. ALOK September 5, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    Nice read! I am reaching there soon..Got to catch up on my learning! 🙂

    Reply
    1. Priyanka Gupta September 5, 2017 at 3:18 pm

      Thanks Alok for visiting and the comment. Well, are you? Don’t worry, it would be all right.

      I am glad you liked the post. Do keep in mind the main points that hit you. Hopefully, I have added some value 🙂

      Stay connected 🙂

      Reply
  23. Sarath September 5, 2017 at 12:00 am

    Yet another thought provoking article.. My score being 26/30..

    Wish you had written it a few months ago, would have got more time to work on myself.. For I’m now 12 days away from entering 30s..

    Reply
    1. Priyanka Gupta September 5, 2017 at 11:15 am

      Thanks Sarath for reading and the kind comment 🙂

      haha. I am eager to know about your rating process.

      You are entering 30’s as well? Wow. Don’t worry. This is no hard and fast rule book. Pick up the points you like and work on them. I am sure you will be all right. 🙂

      Stay connected.

      Reply

Leave A Comment

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.