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What did I learn?
Happy 28th birthday to me – is it a happy day for me though? A part of me is unsure whether there’s enough to celebrate. A part of me still feels like there was something, something left to be accomplished. I can’t quite pinpoint what exactly this should be and why 28 has to be the mark to get it done. So, to lift my own spirits and to share something from my life with you, this post will highlight 8 memorable lessons from my 20s.
I learned that…
- What’s possible and what’s not is not defined by others, but yourself and how much you’re willing to commit.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t listen to more experienced people or not take any advice. Just keep in mind that just because something is not likely or very hard to achieve, or just because it hasn’t been done before, it doesn’t mean that it’s not possible or you shouldn’t try it. The mind can put limits on us and our achievements. It’s already hard enough to battle your own doubts and fears – don’t let other people’s limited vision limit yours.
- Life evolves in ways you could never have foreseen.
Having a plan and goals in life is important to get ahead, but at the end of the day you also need to learn to embrace the path you’ll end up on. Life can be unpredictable and you’ll often find yourself wondering how it could change so much in such short time. When I look back the past 8 years, no year has been like the other. In every single year there was a major change and many of them were not anticipated, or at least not like they played out.
- Uni is a place to learn, not just to study, but to learn.
Of course one of the main goals at university is to graduate with a degree and you need to study to pass exams. But there’s more to it than studying. Going to university is also a time to learn and grow. You are in a very special place and you have the ressources – time and access – to learn about anything you want. Don’t just study what’s required to get the credits. Learn about new things and grow as a person. If there is anything you want to try, chances are now is a good time to do it. If you go to uni in your late teens / early 20s you typically don’t have too many commitments. So it’s the perfect time to follow your interests to the fullest. Finish your assignments for the lecture free time between the semesters early, make room for an adventurous trip or to start your own business.
- you deserve and need to rest.
There is no certain milestone you need to reach before you deserve to rest. You always deserve some rest while working on something. In fact, you need to rest, so you can keep going and do the best job possible. No rest will just burn you out in the long run. And it’s not going to make you any more productive or effective. Working smart includes resting appropriately and recharging yourself. I’m still not good at actually resting and feeling relaxed, but at least I understand the importance of resting at all.
- if you think there’s no reason to go on, faith will give you one.
I’ve never been a religious person. If you had asked me ten years ago, if I could ever imagine faith playing an important role in my life, I would have told you no.
It was at my lowest point in life, when I was going through a difficult break-up, struggling with my studies, with myself and my whole world view, that I discovered the healing power of faith. It doesn’t actually matter what faith that is, it just has to be something you wholeheartedly believe in. My heart and spirit was shattered, I didn’t see any sense or value in any worldly things anymore. So I reached out for something higher than worldly matters, something that is everlasting and can’t be touched by any worldly events. I saw that I needed to be broken first, to be rebuild stronger. I found peace and consolation in the knowledge to have something just for myself, that can’t be shattered or even moved by anything that will happen to me in life.
- To become the best version of yourself, you need to acknowledge who you are.
There’s no benefit in rejecting who you are. You can and you should work on your weaknesses, strive to become better and broaden your horizon. But at the core of your being, you will have certain traits that make you who you are. Maybe people want to tell you it’s bad to be like that, and that you should try to be like so and so. I don’t think you should. You should be yourself, with everything that is distinctively you – and then become the best version of that.
Follow what sparks joy in your soul and shine the brightest in whatever your heart is set on. Don’t break yourself by trying to become someone, the world thinks you should be. Individual brilliance is better to me than general mediocrity.
- You can’t let others define you or set limits on who you can be.
People’s imaginative power is limited. Not everyone will get your vision or get you. And that’s fine, many things in life are subjective. Everyone’s views are highly impacted by their own experiences and what they have been taught. If you don’t fit their mental drawers, you disrupt these views. Many people react harshly and might try to define you, so you can fit into their view. Whatever they say doesn’t make it true or real. “ X people don’t do Y”, “You can’t do Y, you’re X!”, “You don’t belong here or there” – what do they know? Nobody has the authority to define that for you.
- your life doesn’t need to make sense for anyone but yourself.
When you make your own choices, you should stand by them not only in front of others, but also in front of yourself. There’s no need to feel guilty or keep questioning it. If it makes sense to you and you have a path in mind, that path should be valid.
What are some life lessons you learned?