As mentioned in my previous post, I am feeling a bit self-reflective over the years and I was thinking that there are some lessons that I’ve learnt in my thirties that I wish I could tell the 20 year-old me. But knowing my 20 year-old self, these lessons would’ve fallen on deaf ears. However, I am still going to put it out there for all you in your 20’s. May you find some of them good advice.
It is ok to feel lost
I recently mentored a student who sought my advice because she was basically feeling aimless/lost. I admitted to her that even in my 30’s, I too feel lost from time to time. And that’s OK! I interviewed a colleague for another new series I’m doing under “Melissa’s Table Top Talk” called “What does Gen Z want?” and this topic about feeling lost came up. He said that what surprised him and also made him feel slightly relieved was when he was talking to seemingly successful older people who revealed that they too don’t know what they want to do in life.
Thus, if these people who are supposed successful in the eyes of society do feel this sense of aimlessness from time to time, then we’re completely fine going through life feeling the same manner! However, I have to add that regardless, it is still important to then try out new things and see what opportunities bring you. It is only through these experiences that you’ll better understand yourself and what it is that you’re good at and what you’d like to do in life. Don’t be afraid to pivot either. There’s a reason why so many people make mid-career switches.
Not everyone will like you
And it’s not you. Not everyone likes God or believes that there’s one. As such, don’t bother trying to please everyone or behaving in a manner where you try not to rock the boat just so that you’re likeable. Because, even if you did so, there will be people who will pick out things to bitch about you if they simply don’t like you.
This lesson hasn’t been easy for me because I generally do not like the idea of people disliking me. But I’ve realised that rather than focusing on why people do not like me, I reflected on what is the behaviour or tone that I say that rubs people off the wrong way. Then, I make the judgement whether it is fair or not, and how I can improve myself.
Oh…this also goes to body confidence because even when I was at my lightest, I was told that I was fat. So…I’ve learnt that there isn’t a limit to how much weight you can lose or how much success you may have in your career, there will always be someone who will pull you down. You really can’t please everyone.
Be less reactive
Sometimes, we have the knee-jerk reaction to what someone said or did to us. However, I’ve also learnt that sometimes, being reactive can be one of the following:
- being defensive
- too rash
- is the reaction that the other party wants
The list is probably not exhaustive but my point is that being reactive isn’t the smartest thing. It is definitely not easy to bite one’s tongue, think things through before saying/doing something – all within the few minutes so that you don’t lose the window of opportunity to rebut.
What is useful is to see who is that one speaking to you. Do you know him/her? If you don’t know him/her and will not see that person again, then why bother reacting in an explosive manner? Might be smarter to just keep calm and move on. This point also works when you’re driving and some idiot driver cuts your lane. Just scold that driver for a few seconds to vent your frustration and then move on.
If it is someone you know who triggered you, then close your eyes and count to three. This will give you a bit of time to calm yourself down first. Then think of what you’re going to say. If what you’re going to say isn’t what you want someone to say to yourself, then don’t say it.
As if life isn’t stressful enough, why compare yourself to your peers or even non-peers? Yes, I do look at my friends and I’m slightly envious that they’ve got the 2 kids and loving husband. But I also know those who got divorced after years of marriage due to various reasons, some of which resulted in really ugly break-ups.
Some people look like they’ve made it. At the young age of 25 or 28. But…when you really examine their lives, they reached this success by sacrificing a lot of time with family and friends, and sleep. Is this the type of life that you want? Moreover, we only hear the stories of those who “made it” but there are hundreds, if not thousands, of those who are sacrificing all that but without the financial success. Is there anything wrong with being normal? Is there anything wrong with measuring YOUR own success within YOUR own strengths?
When I think about it now, I feel that wanting it all and comparing yourself to those who seemingly ‘have it’ just brings about unnecessary stress to yourself. It is good to have role models but do also realise that you are your own person with your own path to walk. If you get a power trip from being rich/powerful etc, then it’s simply your ego talking. You want to feed your ego or feed your happiness? Your choice.
I’m sure that there are other lessons that I’m still going to learn as I go into my 40s. Soon. Haha. In the meanwhile, I shall enjoy what’s left of my 30s and see what else life throws at me! Carpe Diem!