It’s been a little less than a week since I turned 24 and I thought what better way could there be of celebrating a birthday than sharing all the lessons I’ve learnt! So here’s a list of 24 really important lessons that I have gathered over these years –
1. Pursue a hobby
That’s what keeps us sane when movies, TV series, alcohol and sleep fail to fix us. Find what you enjoy doing and make time for it at least once in a week. I sometimes make a quick 15-minute doodle before leaving for work. Therefore, “I’m too busy” cannot be an excuse for anyone to be lazy about it. If a potato like me can do it, so can you.
2. F.R.I.E.N.D.S. and Maggi are the best inventions ever!
I would binge-watch F.R.I.E.N.D.S. when I would get stuck in a dull phase, when I would want to take a break in between reading intense books, when I would PMS, etc. Likewise, Maggi has been a saviour during trips as well as on days when there was tendli ki sabzi for dinner at home. Mark my words – these two things have the power to help us sail through an apocalypse!
3. Learn to cook basic food
Messing up chai, plain steamed rice, and omelettes are unacceptable once you’ve reached an age where you are capable of making babies.
Each one of us, regardless of our gender, MUST know how to cook basic food; and Maggi is NOT an alternative to food. Also, I do know that Indo-Chinese food is delicious and I love ordering in from time to time, but it’s highly unhealthy and no amount of added vegetables can make up for all that oil.
4. Reread books and rewatch movies
Revisiting stories – be it books or movies, can surprisingly give you a whole new perspective on it. With age, we tend to feel things deeply and differently. Besides, knowing how a particular story is going to end brings a sense of relief that we otherwise don’t get to experience very often in life.
5. Say exactly what you mean
“Oh, but I didn’t mean it that way!”
Don’t fall for this. Also, never resort to this behaviour. Be clear about how you feel, what you think, what your intention is, what you want, and most importantly, what you do not want. Leave no space for ambiguity. Say exactly what’s on your mind and own your words.
6. Introversion is not a disease
Our extroverted peers force us into believing that if you’re not going bar-hopping on a weekend, you’re a loner and that you need to get out. Don’t believe them. Introverts need their space, they are hypersensitive and are extremely choosy about what they want to do and who they want to spend their time with. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Do not let anybody tell you that you have a problem.
7. Travel with a purpose
Too many of us, myself included, are planning trips to see new places and new cultures, but are walking away without gaining much. You went backpacking to Europe, stayed in a hostel for a few weeks, so what? How did you grow by visiting this new place? What did you learn? As clichéd as this is, at the end of a trip, I ask myself – did I travel or did I take a vacation?
8. Wait for a month before making a big purchase
Retail therapy is a sad excuse for experiencing instant gratification. Over time, I’ve cultivated a habit of letting an entire month go by between the time I “think” I want a particular item, and actually buying it. Only if I feel strongly about owning that item by the end of the month do I go ahead and place the order.
9. Karma is a legit concept
We all know how it works. It’s one teacher that practices fairness the way it should be practised – man or woman, rich or poor, smart or dumb; it spares no one. You get what you deserve and that’s just how it should be.
10. Life will suck
Biryani chaahe kitni bhi badhiya ho, ek ilaichi zaroor hogi jo muh ka pura swaad bighaad degi!
The impermanence of good and bad times is inevitable. So, it doesn’t make sense to crib about your problems when they arrive. Everyone is dealing with their own struggles; acknowledge this fact, respect it, and try not to be an asshole while everyone is trying their best to find their bit of happiness.
11. It’s ok to not be ok
Positivity is overrated. We’ve been tricked into believing that we need to be happy all the time; that we need to find the good in every situation. I’m not saying that that’s not right, but sometimes, you just need to see the situation for what it is, feel what it makes you feel and then get over it. It’s okay to feel broken and as if you’re going to puke if you don’t scream. It’s okay to ditch your friends if staying in makes you feel better, it’s okay to call in sick and cry your heart out in your bed.
12. Others’ problems must not make you feel better
You can’t assess someone’s happiness based on how happy or sad other people in this world are. So, don’t try to make your friend feel good by making them see other people’s miseries. That’s plain sadistic and it’s not going to make anyone feel better because every person is dealing with a different problem.
13. No family is perfect
Families are twisted because we, as humans, are like that. Every family has one person who brings disappointment, one person who brings shame, one secret that must not be revealed and one issue that’s always swept under the rug instead of tackling it head-on. No matter how happy it may look from the outside, every family is internally screwed up in its own way. Embrace your family’s flaws.
14. Our minds are capable of reconditioning
We often tend to start identifying ourselves and get influenced by the religion that we were born in, the family values and practices that we’ve seen our elders follow, the ideologies that our community has stuck to and even the political views that our family members hold. It’s not right to grow up and say “…but I have always been taught to believe this”.
We can always unlearn and relearn things.
Be open to that.
15. Learn to listen
There’s a difference between ‘hearing’ and ‘listening’; the latter is a fairly difficult task. To listen is to be attentive, to let the other person know that you are interested in what they’re saying, that you respect them enough to let them finish before you respond and that you recognize the other person’s right to be heard. Also, there’s a lot one can learn just by paying attention to what others are talking about.
16. Learn to see
Our current society has trended towards overstimulation and it leaves little time for us to be alone with our thoughts. Every idle moment is overstuffed with social media. Put your phone down and look around. Watch people. I, personally, love watching kids in public places because when they’re not crying, puking or pooping, they are being mesmerized watching the aircrafts fly, speeding cars, elevators go up and down, etc. It’s easy to take the miracles around us for granted. We should be taking out small moments to realize how incredible the world is around us.
17. There will always be haters
No matter how patient and accommodating you are, there will always be someone who’ll tell you that you are not enough. Jealousy is a human emotion and when it exceeds the safety mark, it gets the best of us. Make peace with those who always pick your faults; if nothing else, they’re at least teaching you what you shouldn’t be doing.
18. If it feels wrong, then there is something wrong
Intuition is real. Vibes are real. Energy doesn’t lie. So, tune in and listen. If you get a bad feeling about a particular person, be careful and draw your boundaries. If you feel your friend doesn’t seem okay even when they’re wearing a smile on their face, go and talk to them.
19. Befriend people who are older than you
To have friends who are older than you is a blessing. There’s always something that you can learn from them – be it about making career choices, dealing with difficult colleagues, making investments, discovering old music, dealing with problems, making the best cocktails, etc., they will always know something more than you do.
20. You lose nothing by helping others
If there’s something you can do that will solve someone else’s problem, then go ahead and do that. It won’t take away anything from you.
All your education and experience is insignificant if it can’t help alleviate someone else’s predicament.
I believe that’s the exact reason why the human race is running its course – there’s so much knowledge that remains to be passed on. We must help each other out and make our journeys a bit easier.
21. Actions aren’t everything
It’s often believed that one must watch what one does to understand how much they love you and care about you. But sometimes, you need to verbalise your emotions and intentions. You need to tell your friend – “You’re a piece of shit, but I really appreciate your presence in my life”. Hearing beautiful things can really have a long-lasting impact on people.
22. Trust the wait
We’re all always in a hurry – we want our answers right now, we want people to reply to our texts ASAP – we want to have it all at once. But, waiting is beautiful. It delays the feeling of gratification but it also makes you realize the importance of what it is that you’re waiting for. Not knowing the outcome of a particular decision is okay.
When nothing is certain, anything is possible.
So learn to wait.
23. Life is happening right now
We often dwell on our past – the mistakes we made, the things we should or shouldn’t have said, the people we trusted, etc. If not that, then we live in a constant worry about our future, wondering if and when will our life present itself in its greatest form to us. What we tend to forget is that life is happening right now, right now while you’re reading this. Be mindful of the present moment. Smile at the things that are going really well and also at those that you can do nothing about. Show life who’s the boss!
24. The best is yet to come
Life is short; it can end at any moment. But that’s just one possibility, right? What if it’s long? What if we live to see our great-grandkids? And aliens when they descend on Earth? Okay, I may have taken it a little too far. But the bottom-line is, as long as we’re alive, we must hope. We must hope that our problems will come to an end and that we will be okay. We must hope that the best is yet to come; and that it will.
I would like to end this by saying that everything that’s mentioned above is purely my understanding of life and it’s way of working. I DO NOT wish to enforce my views on anyone. These are just a bunch of things that I picked up on my way over the last 24 years and I hope that you are able to let go of parts that you don’t concur with.