It’s a few months till the day I turn 30 – and I simply can’t wait for it. Turning one year older, to me, means I’ve grown one year wiser and have had one more year of fulfilling experiences. Things may not always go smoothly in life and because of that, I thought I’d share some of the lessons life has given so far. Here is the first part of the 20 things I’ve learnt in my 20s and I hope they will offer you some guidance where needed.
1. Being Independent
Being independent may mean a whole lot more responsibilities on your plate, but it also means you get to do so much more with your life. Everything that has got to do with independence includes things like cleaning your own toilet bowl, doing the dishes, changing your own sheets, planning your travel itinerary, having a job and dealing with internet subscriptions. It also means you get to choose who you spend your time with, how often you get to eat out and what your career progression should look like.
2. Being More Empathetic
I’m quite the unfeeling sort, having seen first hand how emotions ruin relationships and make the most rational of people behave in ridiculous manners. Although I still prefer sticking to logic rather than heart matters (or acting in the moment of heat), I’ve come to understand that not everyone can control their emotions as well and keep them under check. Knowing and accepting that others respond to situations differently from you will help you connect better with them when you try to see things from their point of view. There isn’t a hard rule as to what is the right way of reacting to things – there are just different ways that seem right to different individuals at different points in time.
3. It’s OK to Not Understand
Try as you may, sometimes you will still not get it and that is OK. You may not understand why things like war, destruction of the environment, honour killings and abuse happen in our world but know that it is human nature and nothing is perfect in this world. Just try to make it a better place for those around you and spread positive values like passion, integrity and humility.
4. The French Language and Culture
The French are quite the unique bunch and if anything, they are extremely different from Singaporeans. I went to France expecting nothing and learnt absolutely the most I could about France and the rest of central Europe. The pace of life in France in general is definitely slower than in Singapore and many major cities in Asia, and life there is pretty good with awesome food, good company, a good balance of the outdoors and city life, and a good healthcare and education system – which is why I find it quite surprising that the French are one of the most depressed people in the world.
5. People in Fashion are Mostly Superficial
Never attend a fashion show entirely on your own. Never, nuh uh. You would stick out like a sore thumb, even if you were dressed to the nines or fitted from head to toe in Elie Saab. People in the fashion industry are all about what you’re wearing and whether you know the right personalities. A magazine’s editor-in-chief I once inadvertently offended gave me such a terrible impression of herself (and therefore the magazine she heads) that I seriously wonder how the magazine has survived till today. Also girl, stop showing off that Chanel. It’s not like you’re the only one who has it.
6. Following My Own Advice
What would you say if someone asked you for advice? I’ve come to realise that whenever I gave someone advice and they took it, they usually did quite well after. However, ironically, I never had the confidence that things would work out for me, especially having been in the close company of pessimists and perpetual worriers. I’ve since worked out a way that allowed me to slowly regain that self-confidence and belief, and right now I’m fighting to keep things that way.
7. Being a Better Blogger
If you want to do something well, you’re going to need to do it a lot. Experts are experts for a reason. While I’m not one at blogging, I know more about it than most other non-bloggers out there. After years of blogging on top of everything else that has happened in my life – getting my university degrees, moving to a new country, travelling, getting a new job, working full-time as a teacher and part-time as a tutor, freelance writing, and so on – I’ve changed the way I blog and am continuously looking to be better every day, with every blog post I put up. I’ve learnt skills that nothing else could have taught me and am amazed sometimes at how passion and action can drive you to achieve things you didn’t know you could do, and take you places you never thought you would go.
Being in your twenties is a period of time when socialising takes on a whole new level. Most times it involves alcohol but if you aren’t a fan, you’ll soon realise who the ones who are really worth your time. Friends won’t mind if you choose not to consume alcohol when you get together and they won’t beat you up about it either. Also, know that even if you can’t bond with others over a good bottle of whisky, you can always bond over other things like your favourite movies or your penchant for lame jokes.
9. Exercise is Important
So is food. But exercise is more important if you don’t have to worry about when your next meal will be. Imagine all the things that you can do today, and that you won’t be able to when you lie sick in bed all day. It’s wiser to acknowledge that keeping fit should remain a priority at all stages of your life.
10. You Will Always be Judged
Whether you like it or not, people will always judge you based on how you look. First impressions are a make-or-break, be it forming new friendships, getting through to the second job interview or asking someone for a favour for the first time. If you create a positive first impression, life will be easier for you because you won’t have to spend unnecessary effort to correct the negative way others may see you.