21 Lessons Learned In My 21st Year

  1. Make peace with your past. No matter how much effort you’re ready to exert, it won’t change. Ever.
  2. Family is the most important gift you can ever have. Don’t waste time staying away from them, they’re the ones who would always be there whatever it takes. And home, indeed, is the sweetest place on earth. Define your ‘home’ and your ‘family’. I’ve seen that it may not be the same standard for everyone. I’m lucky enough to have been raised in a loving, caring, and compassionate family, but not everyone has that fortune. Still… love them. After last year’s internship, I pledged not to take for granted the ones that will eventually perish. I love them to the bone, and will continue to do so.
  3. Love is rough. Sometimes you need to strive really hard for it. Don’t dwell in touchy-feely cheesy fantasies you may have been introduced to in your teenage years. I was a fairy tale supporter but once you’re in your twenties, it gets obvious: they are all fake cotton candies. Love hurts, but ironically, there’s no better antidote to love than love itself.
  4. After all the rants people post on social media –twitter, facebook, wordpress, path, pinterest, etc. – at their core, people just simply want to be noticed. A silent approval that they exist.
  5. Forgive yourself and forgive others, even when they don’t forgive you. Take time before planning on reconciliation. Not everyone is so kind-hearted even if you’ve admitted that you have done wrong. They may not greet you anymore or pretend that they don’t know you, for now and forever. But even so… be the one who loves instead of hates.
  6. Sometimes, people can hurt others permanently just by the fact that they live. Can you believe it? It’s like Spike in Plants vs Zombies.
  7. Your parents age faster than you. Don’t be afraid to show them love, affection, and appreciation, even just in form of ‘thank you for making this dinner’. There may not be tomorrow to express your gratitude towards what they’ve done.
  8. People change – for better or worse. Accept it. You never have the complete story of what they’ve been through. Cherish the moments you had with them, but understand that your paths can be separated and you may never see them the same way again – and vice versa. It doesn’t erase the sadness of losing them, but what else can you do? I learned it a hard way.
  9. This world has been too harsh already without some sprinkles of smiles.
  10. There are certain conditions that cannot be changed, that are simply beyond your control. Don’t force them. Don’t be afraid of failure. I’ve failed a lot of times I’ve lost counts, but everytime I feel like it’s the dead end, someone or something always reminds me that there’s no point of surrender. No surrender should exist if there’s still a possibility that you can thrive. Most of the times, the possibilities are there.
  11. It must be hard for you, but when you must wait, you must wait. Time brings the answers to almost every problem, including the thick, foggy future you cannot lay sights on. And although the belief is decreasing and increasing like a sinusoidal curve, what I believe is that God knows the best way. Trust God. “What time cannot solve, you have to solve it yourself” – Murakami
  12. Financial independence is the key to a more sustainable life, but not necessarily a happier one. Whoever says, “No, look at people in jetski! In beautiful villas! The happiness in shopping!”. It’s all temporary. But we’re in our twenties anyway. That’d be very naive to say that money doesn’t matter. Strive for that independence, I do, for instance – maybe that way you can access happiness easier. Do financial planning. You’ll never know when and how your money will run out, so prepare for the future.
    Pretty much sums up everything, eh? Image’s taken from here.


  13. Give back to others in any form you feel comfortable. “Happiness is only real when it’s shared”, said Buddha. So nurture young ones if you feel like you’re successful. Share, and keep only what you need to keep from others. Don’t be afraid that they will surpass or outsmart you, people have their own portion and their own ways to be successful. Tell them what you’ve learned, make them able to dodge the regret or the things you wish you never did.
  14. College life is the prime time of your short life, the beautiful cherry on top. Make the most out of it. Make friends, expand networks, achieve more than your limit, don’t do stupid things like being lazy or consumed by drugs. You’re gonna miss it more when it’s gone. Take advantage of ‘being understood for your younger years’.
  15. Find a steady partner. I haven’t found mine and it’s rather depressing. Not to settle down too early, but to have passport to social security. Especially when you’re a girl and live in Asian culture.
  16. Diverse choices come up and making choices has never been an easy thing in life. Weigh all the possibilities, list down pros and cons, consult with the people you trust. Remember that what you do now echoes through eternity, you’re forever the bearer of your own consequences. So make ’em right.
  17. Even though they say “Do the things you want to do”, I believe that the output is somewhere along the mix of: a) what you really want to do or really want for yourself; b) social (read: your culture’s) expectation; c) family values that have been imposed on you; d) general rules and norms applicable in your country; e) wild dreams.
  18. In your twenties, heartbreaks become more easily manageable. No more teary eyes after rejections. After series of broken hearts and non-reciprocal feelings, magically I can still believe in love. Affection deprivation is real – perhaps we need love much like we need air to breath, no matter how may times it’s been slipping away from our grip. Don’t take everything as ‘signs’. If someone wants you, he/she will show it. My mother said, “Don’t chase someone who doesn’t chase you back”. My friend Elsa said, “Don’t invest your feelings on someone who will not give you the expected return”. Noted, eh?
  19. The only way to overcome loneliness is by layering work on top of work. Less work? Void. Except if you have someone to share. If only. So the next time you see someone overdo his/her works, check on him/her. Maybe they need some special attentions. In most cases, they have even forgotten how it feels to have a relationship, despite the secret fact that they crave for it.
  20. A woman’s success comes with a price. Face it, men still hold on to the principles that they have to be superior over the XX chromosome. I don’t know if men secretly want their significant others to be emotionally detached. But this is what I feel: the more successful, higher level you are -with the exception of prettier ones, magical encounters, and those who have found someone before they soar high- the less likely you’ll find someone who wants to understand that you’re still the same little girl who needs protection. I’m there. The situation is more complicated because time is ticking for women, and not vice versa. A senior HR manager, very charming, cute, the one you can easily relate to and fun to be with – but very successful, hasn’t married yet, once told me, “We women are like cheese you know, we deteriorate. Men are like fine wine, they get more attractive as they age. So go, find someone before it’s too late, before you reach my age and your choices are not so available anymore”.
    So yeah. The pressure’s there. The dilemma’s there.
  21. Well finally, as Taylor Swift put it, we’re happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time. Can’t make it more obvious than that. I’d have to end this by saying that Quarter Life Crisis is real, but whatever. Twenties should be the pinnacle of your life. But as absorbance curve generated by spectrophotometer has already shown it – peaks can occur more than once.

                                                                Long live the twenties. 🙂

Author: mfaradina

An Indonesian. A reliable realist outside yet a romantic dreamer at heart.

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