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Life Lessons I’ve learned at 23

From the saccharine to the prosaic reality of adulthood - a transition.

As a 23 year old, just starting my career, thriving in the world of adults, it can get really frustrating. I know I’m not the only one who’s constantly thinking about her life’s purpose.

Everytime I ask someone older than me I’d ask them how’d you know that you’re gonna be doing that for the rest of your life? They’d all tell me one thing – somehow life just got them there. I’m constantly anxious on where life is taking me, if it was actually worth it, or if the path that I’ve chosen is really for me. Am I any good at it? Or i’d be better off somewhere else?

I’m always told that i think too much, and that at 23, people don’t even worry about the things I’m worrying about. Maybe I’m too idealistic, and whenever I’m not on the path I’ve thought I’d be at, I’d be very disappointed. Here are the lessons I have learned so far:

1. Not everyone is your friend.

You will be too much for the wrong people. Remember that. On the bright side, use this as a litmus test to know who your real friends are. People will always have something to say and you can’t really please everyone – that’s one of life’s harsh realities. Just go do you and ignore the haters. People can be cruel without even knowing it, but just focus on the things you can control and let go of the things you can’t.

2. The gift of Family – it’s your greatest gift.

When the world comes crashing down, it’s my family who reminds me to be strong. They are the foundation on where I stand. With that, i am eternally grateful. They are my greatest treasure.

3. Be grateful for your achievements, no matter how small.

Sometimes we tend to get so fixated on every little thing that has gone wrong that  we completely forget how to be grateful – for the big things, the little things, the things that we tend to take for granted. Why is human psychology like that? Go give yourself a pat on the back for managing to do the most mundane of tasks, and then strive harder, be better, so you’d be able to accomplish more.

4. What you plant now, your future self will thank you for

This is something I’ve learned from Meditation Classes in a zen buddhist temple. You reap what you sow. Nothing will be handed to you no matter how much you’d pray, you will have to work for everything in order to reap results.

5. The first step is always the hardest. Start by doing.

This is related to number 4, start by taking action. No matter how small, the beginning is always the hardest. Go ahead, take a deep breath, and start doing. This is also one of my greatest flaws, a perfectionist with a procrastinator’s complex. Let’s work on that, shall we?

6. Do not lose yourself over small things. Sulking is one thing, but it’s a choice to always improve.

You know what they say, the best revenge after all is to live your best life. Go feel whatever emotion you’d have to feel, embrace it, accept it, then let it go. You can choose to sulk your whole life for everything that has happened to you, or you can simply choose to be better.

7. Know what makes you get up in the morning.

This is one of the many things I’ve learned from talking to adults, knowing what makes them get up in the morning. It’s a good thing to look forward to the day, to look at all the things you have yet to accomplish, all the things that will set you closer to your goals. Look for that spark in you, and let it flourish. This vision will propel you to take action, and lead a more meaningful life.

8. Exercise. Eat well. Your well-being is important.

In this life, all you have at the end of the day is yourself. Invest in it. Eat healthy, exercise, it is a need to invest in your well being. Go for a run, do yoga, pilates, or whatever program that speaks to you. Eat your fruits and vegetables, as cliche as it may sound, it will go a long way.

9. Be logical, be reasonable, be smart, but have compassion.

Have a heart, but most importantly, use your brain. Use logic but be open to other people’s perspectives. Have compassion and never be too condescending just because your reality is different from theirs. Most especially, find that balance, so you wouldn’t also be taken advantage of. You’d realize as you grow older, that life is about finding balance.

10. Your calendar will control you, if you don’t.

I can’t emphasize this enough. One of my greatest flaws also is having no sense of time and direction. I am working on that. Procrastination is the imp of the perverse, it may be easy and tempting to put things off, but before you know it, days become weeks, weeks become months, and months become years – some day you’d regret all the time you’ve wasted putting things off. Battle the imp of the perverse! You’d thank yourself for it.

It’s funny that through setbacks, life takes us to places we’d never really imagine we’d be. With every doubt in mind,take this time to zoom out and see how far you’ve come, grasshopper. Hang in there, things will get better. Keep learning and you will thrive.

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