This week, I’m turning 24. And while last year, the day I turned 23 I also received a degree, this year I turn 24 and I know a little more. If nobody likes you when you’re 23, then I like to think that 24 is that age where you start to get slightly bearable again with your family, friends and coworkers – I’ve already noticed that my answer to “how are things” is no longer variations of “I’m all over the place” or “I’m a hot mess in a suit” or “Oh, just trying to figure my life out, you know, the usual.”
The transition happened so slowly, then changed -what felt like- overnight. For about 8 months after graduation, I was never at peace. I was constantly anxiety-ridden, or mourning the past, or trying too hard to make life exciting. What I didn’t realize is that only once I accepted my new life as a working adult, could I reap the benefits of how amazing it truly is. It took time, and patience, and a bit of blind faith, but I’m finally at a health and fitness level that I never thought I could be at, I have a well-balanced social life, my career excites me and I have indulged in new hobbies I never imagined I could pick up this “late” in life.
In honour of exactly one year post-graduation, I want to share 24 things I learned in 24 years, that have made the last few months some of the most peaceful ones I’ve had yet:
- Things have to get really bad in order for them to get really good. I’m a firm believer of paying your dues, and if things have been only amazing for you so far, well, brace yourself. But don’t worry, they’ll always get better. Even better than you can imagine.
- Parents don’t always know best. Times are changing and some older adults may still have traditional views of success – but real success comes from pushing the boundaries and taking risks (calculated risks, that is).
- If you have a nagging urge to do something that won’t go away, you should do it. I know way too many people in their thirties who feel like they haven’t sown their wild oats – your twenties are the time to do it.
- It’s fine to grow apart from people. After graduation, everyone has a different path that their hearts are pulling them towards, and while you’ll get closer to some people because you’re in similar life arenas, you may also grow apart from others.
- Nothing is final. Just like you may grow apart from a friend or separate from a significant other, you realize as you get older that life isn’t as final as you thought it was when you were younger – life has strange ways of bringing people back together, and more people reconnect than you would think.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone’s timing is different and you’re not “behind in life” just because you deem others your age more successful than you. Life situations can change extremely quickly.
- You have to be alone for a period of time to figure out who you really are.
- There is beauty in ambiguity, and excitement in the unknown. We forget that when we get older and our excitement turns to anxiety. Learn to be excited for life, not scared that things will go wrong.
- Marriage and kids isn’t for everyone, and you shouldn’t feel pressured by societal norms to pursue that path if you feel it’s not for you. At the end of the day, marriage is a social construct.
- It’s never too late to learn to do something you’ve never done before, or to become really talented at something. All it takes is time, energy and discipline.
- Energy and behaviour is the most attractive thing about a person. This applies to potential romantic interests as well as friends, managers, business partners, etcetera.
- Holding on to hard feelings towards someone or an incident only hurts yourself. Finding the strength to let go and move on is the true definition of peace.
- Having other people’s expectations of you or judgement of your choices influence your actions is a recipe for an unhappy, unfulfilled life. Take advice from people you love and respect, but only with a grain of salt. Ignore the rest.
- Hurt people, hurt people. If someone is rude to you or puts you down, it is a reflection of them and how they feel about themselves. If you radiate positivity and be kind, you will naturally feel happier, and small things won’t get you down.
- Often, the smartest/best thing to do is also the hardest thing to do.
- You can’t save the world in every possible way. But find what’s important to you, and do small things every day to make an impact – you’re not a hypocrite if you eat vegan but wear leather. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
- Meekness is not weakness. Acting out of emotion or being the loudest voice in the room doesn’t make you the smartest, and class and poise never go out of style.
- Love as hard and often as you can – it’s such a wonderful feeling, and shouldn’t be hogged all by one person. Love your childhood friends, love your new friends, love your barista that makes your coffee just the way you like it – spread the love.
- You’ll learn way more by listening than by talking. Try and use active listening in every conversation, and seek to get to know people and learn something new in every conversation. If the older you get the less you think you know, you’re doing something right.
- Children and animals are very smart and intuitive. Trust their instincts, and trust your own as well.
- Cohesive diversity is the secret to a utopia.
- No one really cares what you do – everyone is so worried about themselves. And if they are worried about you, it’s either because they love you, or they want to be you.
- Siblings are the only people in the world who will be closer to understanding what it’s like to be you than anyone else.
- The difference between self-love and selfishness is what you want to do with all the goodness you bring to yourself in the process of self-care. Selfishness is using your energy on yourself, while self-love is wanting to be the best version of yourself for your sake as well as the sake of others.