Important Lessons I Wished I Knew When I Was 20 (Part 3)


Physical struggle can be tough. Psychological struggles are even tougher. Such struggles play with our minds and threaten to lower our self-esteem. With low self-esteem, we will lead life with less ambition and belittle ourselves even when success is well within our grasp.

Looking back, I have learnt a lot about the type of friends to keep, that trends do not define anyone, being alone is therapeutic and that being nice is different from being weak. Let me elaborate.

#1 Fashion does not matter

Who does not want to look the best and most trendy? Enter #ootd and #influencermarketing. With photos of the latest fashionable apparel donned by models and influencers, it is no wonder we yearn for the trendiest (and most probably expensive) clothes. Peer pressure is exceptionally strong at this stage of life.

Fashion is fleeting; it changes every few months. While it is good to look fashionable, it is better to be presentable. I once bought several matching shirts and pants that were trendy. I had worn them for a couple of times before they went out of fashion in a year or slightly more.

I had since learnt to dress presentably, and buy timeless classics instead of chasing the latest fashion trends. My wardrobe is made up of plain and graphic tee shirts, plain long sleeved shirts (and a couple of patterned shirts), and plain pants.

Plain designed clothes are easier to match and do not go out of style. Mark Zuckerberg is well known to wear a grey tee shirt everyday except when he has big meetings.

#2 Do not waste time on toxic people

Do you have an overly critical person in your life? What about lazy people? There are also the overbearing ones who must dominate every conversation and make things work in their favour. There is also the selfish one who wants credit for every good job done without giving much of input. When the result is not as good, he will be the first one to deflect criticism. Such people are toxic. While they have their strengths, it is advisable to stay away from them.

You deserve better friends – those who will look out for you, support you, consider your feelings and celebrate your achievements. True friends want the best for each other.

#3 Learn to appreciate being alone

Time spent alone is not sad. It is actually a blessing! You need time to reflect and think about your future. This can only be done when you are left alone.

As you graduate and enter the workforce in your 20s, your school friends will have different schedules. Some of your friends may take up jobs which require shifts or for them to work through weekends (common for retail and hospitality). This is related to Point 1 in Part 2.

As you become comfortable being alone, you will discover more about yourself. You may even think of solutions to the issues you face. This may light up your entrepreneurial streak!

#4 Know the difference between being kind and weak

Just because you treat people nicely, this does not give them the permission to treat you poorly. The phrase “Do not take my kindness as my weakness” sums this up perfectly. We are taught to be kind and politely.

Have confidence and stand up for yourself. Stand up for your friends.

Growing up and transiting into a working adult bring dozens of challenges. Change is the only constant and we need to learn how to deal with it.

Which of these points resonates with you the most?
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Stay tuned for Part 4!