I turned 20 on the 17th of April 2016. Over these 20 years I have learned a lot of things, so here you are.
It’s ok to want to be alone. You don’t have to be around people all the time, I know how hard it can be, and I know that it can take the energy out of you. There are plenty of people who enjoy being by themselves because it can be important to your sense of well-being.
“Sometimes you need to take a break from everyone and spend time alone, to experience, appreciate and love yourself.” – Robert Tew
It’s ok to not know what you want to do with your life. The concept of your future scares you. But the older you get, the more you understand that even adults are winging it through life, even they don’t know what they want to do; they haven’t found their true calling. From a few years after you are born you are thrown into education and don’t emerge until your early 20s – that’s a long time to have your future planned out for you. But then you have to figure out what you want to do as a career. You start to wonder if you even have a ‘true calling’, and if it’s even a thing. But that doesn’t matter, if you find something you enjoy, who cares?
“Be your best without hesitation or judgment. You deserve to live a fearless and prosperous life in all your capability and imagination.” – Steven Cuoco
Sometimes you’ll be wrong, and someone else will be right. You can’t win every argument and you just have to get used to it. You might think you’re right at the time, but when you realise you’re wrong, you need to admit it, for the good of everyone involved, don’t be stubborn about it.
“Our love of being right is best understood as our fear of being wrong” – Kathryn Schulz
Go on adventures to make memories. There are so many things to see, do and experience. You just have to take the first step. Be like Belle, who doesn’t want to stay put in her small village and carry on doing the same thing everyday. Take a chance and a risk. Go on. Sometimes the most unplanned adventures will give some of your greatest memories.
“Let us step into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.” – J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Be curious. Always ask questions and don’t accept everything as gospel truth.
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” – Albert Einstein
Be passionate about something you can talk about for hours. It allows you to be excited about something, and you don’t have to perfect at it, just enjoy it. Having a passion makes life worth it.
“Interests evolve into hobbies or volunteer work, which grow into passions. It takes time, more time than anyone imagines.” – Po Bronson
You can’t please everyone – not everyone will like you. You don’t have to try to impress anyone; if they don’ like you then that is their fault, you can’t change them so why change yourself? It’s ok to be different. Even if you try your best to impress someone, they still may not like you. And it’s ok because the people that matter the most do not need you to impress them, because they like you the way that you are. Never change for anyone. Spend life with people who make you happy, not those who make you miserable.
“Don’t try to impress a loser because If one is not happy about the things happening in their life, one cannot be happy about the things happening in someone else’s life.” – Michael Bassey Johnson
Don’t make promises you can’t keep. If you make a promise, stick to it. It’s not fair on the other person. If you let the other person down, chances are that they won’t trust you again. Actions speak louder than words, and it is bad to break promises. If you tell someone “I promise”, mean it.
“Some people don’t understand the promises they’re making when they make them” – John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
Work hard. Your dreams can come true if you put the effort in, but you can’t sit around waiting – anything is possible if you try. Your dreams won’t happen if you sit around at home all day watching Netflix. Stay in school, kids.
“Fairytales can come true. You gotta make ’em happen, it all depends on you”.
Be patient. Good things happen to those who wait – everything worth having takes time. In psychology we call this “Delayed Gratification”, which refers to the ability to put off something mildly fun or pleasurable now, in order to gain something that is more fun, pleasurable, or rewarding later. Patience is a virtue.
“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.” – A.A. Milne, Winnie The Pooh
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I know you might want to prove your ability, skill or worth to someone, but sometimes you just can’t and you need someone to help you. Be humble and ask for their help – it’s more embarassing not being able to do the thing than admitting to someone you are unable to do it. Because they will gladly help, and it will further your knowledge.
“Never let your ego get in the way of asking for help when in desperate need. We have all been helped at a point in our lives.” – Edmond Mbiaka
Step out of your comfort zone, now. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Everything you have ever wanted is out there, and it will shape you into who you want to be – the next version of yourself. Take the leap, otherwise you’ll never know what could have been. You’ll eventually realise that your comfort zone really isn’t all that comfortable. Every mile will be worth your while.
“The further you get away from yourself, the more challenging it is. Not to be in your comfort zone is great fun.” – Benedict Cumberbatch
Be kind. Even when you don’t feel like being kind, even when you’re frustrated or angry. If you aren’t kind, you may say things you regret, and that wouldn’t be good for anyone involved. Be kind when you’re cranky, and running on 3 hours of sleep from the night before. You want people to remember you as a nice and kind person, not mean and nasty.
People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway. – Kent M. Keith
Never stop learning. Have you ever heard the saying, “you learn something new every day”? It’s true. There are new skills to learn, and techniques to adopt, you’ll become happier, and you’ll stay humble. Every interaction you have is a chance for you to learn something. From the moment you are born yo start learning; rights from wrongs, language, and sharing… to maths and english in school. Why stop learning?
“There are five important things for living a successful and fulfilling life: never stop dreaming, never stop believing, never give up, never stop trying, and never stop learning.” – Roy Bennett
Have the courage to change your mind – don’t settle if you’re not happy. Be brave. When you’ve made your mind up on doing something spectacular, and then a week in you change your mind and decide not to. It’s not easy to change your mind, and you don’t know how people are going to react or say, but if it’s the best decision for you then you have to do it. You’ll regret not changing your mind. If you didn’t like the food you were eating, would you carry on eating it? Probably not, and it’s the same with experiences. It doesn’t matter if the decision you make hurts someone else, because the only person that matters is you.
“Small shifts in your thinking, and small changes in your energy, can lead to massive alterations of your end result.” – Kevin Michel
Never judge a book by its cover – it’s cliche but it’s so true. If you say something mean to someone’s face, you don’t know what they’ll go home and do. Don’t judge someone before you get to know them. First impressions are not always correct.
“We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation.” – Paulo Coelho
People regret quick decisions. Don’t jump into things without thinking about them first. It’s impulsive and I am prone to take risks before weighing them up.
“Thinking is hard work, which is why you don’t see many people doing it.” – Sue Grafton
Confidence is area specific. You may be confident when giving a presentation to 50 people, but are you confident when talking to the guy you like? You build confidence in one area, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be confident in another area.
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Stop saying sorry. I say sorry all the time, sometimes for no reason, sometimes for something irrational, even for things that aren’t my fault, and it’s probably a side effect of being British. Sorry for being an inconvenience, sorry for needing telling someone the truth, sorry that you got annoyed at me… You don’t have to apologise for everything you do. You can’t prevent things from happening.
“Why do girls always feel like they have to apologize for giving an opinion or taking up space in the world? Have you ever noticed that?” – Libba Bray
Take this last piece of advice from Dory: “When life gets you down, just keep swimming“. Life can be tough, but this is all you need to remember.