100 things you need to hear when you turn 20
- The hardest is the start
I won’t lie, the start is the hardest part. Everyone makes plans, and has ideas. I remember talking to classmates during my studies. Luke talked about how he will create his own company that will become the next Facebook, make enough money to retire at thirty and live on the French Riviera surrounded by models. Anne discussed her plans of travelling around the world, two years in Asia, in Africa and in South America, where she will discover her inner self and write a book about the adventures she experiences. Mattias was going to stay at school, do groundbreaking research, and earn the Nobel prize.
When we met ten years later, it turned out that Luke was climbing the corpo-ladder, Anne never left the country, had a husband and two kids, and Matthias hadn’t finished his PhD. Their dreams had faded away. Now they only discussed practical things: mortgages, apartments, spouses, kids. When I mentioned their old plans, they laughed and said they were kids then and didn’t know that life is different than they imagined.
Yes, life is different. Life can be anything. No, I am not going to say that you can do anything, and you only have to want it, because you will end up like Luke, Anne or Matthias. I am not saying that that is bad, but if you have ambitions to really change something in the world, you have to choose a different path. Do you know what makes the difference? It is the details and your first steps. My classmates had wonderful dreams, but they didn’t make plans. They were afraid of their dreams and didn’t want them to come true. That is why they didn’t make them happen.
I never had dreams, in the sense of things that I wanted but I was too afraid to reach for, because it wasn’t the “right moment.” It is always the “right moment.” My head was only full of plans and lists to complete, and thanks to these small steps, not paying attention to other people, I arrived at the place I wanted to be in. I am still going. To begin is the hardest part, with each step it just gets easier.
You know what’s the best thing? At age thirty, you will feel just as good as you do now. I am thirty, and I feel just as I did when I was twenty. Physically I have to be a little more careful, eat healthier and exercise regularly, but besides that, nothing changed. I can still party all night, I can still hang out with people in the city, I can still joke around. I am different because I have experience. I still have the same energy to get things done, I can even get more done now than when I did when I was twenty. I still want to learn and I can still see so much knowledge to gain. Time soothes certain encounters. I now treat failures as lessons. Above all else, I move forward. I don’t want to stay in one place. Don’t worry if you don’t know where you are going. I don’t even know, sometimes I just seem like I do. Your path is something to be continually discovered. I only know that you shouldn’t be afraid. Fear doesn’t lead anywhere. I have been afraid of too many things already: the opinions of others, failures, and rejection. They are completely meaningless. It all will pass; time is merciful.
This is why you must remember, you are young, twenty is nothing, you have time. Do not get discouraged when you undergo failure after failure. You will encounter many, really. You will be bruised by people and by the world, you will be criticised when you reach success, and when you don’t. People will turn away from you, but do not concern yourself. You are you. You will find like-minded people if you will know who you are. But you won’t find anything by standing still. Yes, you will fail when you move forwards, and you will end up in places you don’t want to be in, but despite the pain, you can always go back. If you do not move, you will only be left with dreams and stagnation. Go.
3. A sense of humor
In today’s world, it is very hard to accept pathos. A sense of humor is very important. I treat myself with a certain amount of distance, and I have no problem if other people make fun of me. In the end, we are all amusing. I have accepted that. I am not afraid of criticisms, because they are free lessons. Life is absurd, so I approach it with humor. I am, by habit, more joyous and nicer because of this. I joke, I laugh, but never at the cost of others.
Jokes are related to self-awareness. I laugh at myself because I know who I am, and the opinion of another person will not change that. I can joke with others, because I do not have any insecurities. I am not afraid of others. I am open for whatever another person comes to me with. The more I know about life, the better my sense of humor. In the end, we only have this life for a moment. Why not make the most of it? There is no second chance.
Elders often try to give advice. They think their experience will protect those that are younger, or they simply want to show off their wisdom. I am not writing this book to tell you how to live. Just the opposite in fact! Live as you please, you are free to, that is the most precious treasure. You can do what you want, disregarding all else. You really can; just remember that everything has its consequences. When I was twenty, I was unfortunately very wary of them. I was too careful, I didn’t allow myself any craziness, because I didn’t want to make a “fool” of myself, as it seemed to me. I was afraid that if I reveal myself, people would turn away from me. And you know what? They would. However, others would come, who would like me for who I am. That is the advantage of honesty. You can be whoever you want, but be that person honestly. Only that makes sense. Otherwise you lie to yourself and others. What is the point of having friends who you are not honest with? Always treading lightly around other people does not lead to anything. Are you are afraid of losing the friends you have? Allow yourself to lose them. There are a lot of nice people in the world, you will see. You will build new friendships, meet new people.
This book is not a guide, I do not want to give advice. I am only writing down my thoughts, you do what you want to. The choice is yours. If you don’t like what I am writing, that’s great! Question everything. You have the right to. I am also writing for myself, to systemize everything, all that I learned. I am thirty, and that means that my first blossom of youth is behind me. I have a decade to forty. Ten years until the age that ancient Romans perceived as a measure of maturity. Ten years is a lot. To make the most of them, I have to carefully consider the path that I will be taking. I write because I want to learn what I can do with this life. I made many mistakes, and because of them I lost many valuable relationships and possibilities. I draw conclusions from my mistakes so that my fourth decade can be even better. It is never too late to learn.