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22 Things I Learned Before Turning 22

It’s been a while since people started to stay at home and limit their activities outdoor. Some people work tirelessly outside as their job forces them to do so, while others have the privilege to work from home.

For me, quarantine has granted me time to meditate and reflect on things I have learned, achieved, dreamed, and failed—the ups and downs of the life of a boy entering a quarter-life crisis.

I know I am not the wisest man to talk about life lessons. Besides, I am not good at pointing out my thoughts in words. However, I will try to make this content pretty straightforward and simple.

These 22 lessons are not ordered by importance. However, it is hard to decide. Without further ado, kindly take your time to read.

22. There is good in everything

Whether we like it or not, there’ll always be problems in life. Like a story, it needs troubling conflict, unsolved mystery, tough challenges, wins, losses, and vicious villains. However, no matter how hard the story gets, the hero always finds a way to tackle them and rise even stronger.

The older we are, the more likely our problem gets worse. That’s fine, it means we pick up more challenges to make progress and become better people. Everywhere is a chance to do something new, to persevere ourselves with lively spirits on whatever fate befell us in the future. Yeah I know sometimes we are anxious, depressed, and stuff. But like a wise man said:

21. Feeling enough is true wealth

Last week I was exercising for IELTS speaking preparation. One of the questions written in the book was “Do you agree that money is the source of happiness?”. It is a famous and common discussion in financial life. The idea is that if we have more money, and become rich and powerful figures, no one can touch us and we can do whatever we want.

What an illusion!

In fact, being rich doesn’t guarantee you happiness. Some famous celebrities, influential leaders, and successful businessmen found themselves depressed and worried about their life. I don’t mean to say that being rich is wrong, but society proposes an idea that everyone should get a lot of money in order to fully live their life while not everyone can do that. Thus, it leads to the pursuit of happiness by working very hard and at the same time ignoring the essence of life itself.

The truth is, being yourself, being self-contained, feeling self-sufficient, having no drugs, and having volatile skills that help you thrive for success are real wealth and freedom.

20. Write a gratitude journal

Back in high school, I write a journal- well actually a diary- where I would write some special events that is important to me, some pieces of knowledge I learned, or some moments that I cherish and remember. I like to highlight something that I am grateful for. Being grateful is the most beautiful and magical thing a human can do. Being grateful means you are happy about what you have done.

Make this a habit. Write three things that you’re happy with. Maybe somebody in the office gave you ice cream, maybe you watched an inspiring video, maybe your friend sent you a funny meme. It doesn’t need to be a big surprise, just write small things that happened every day and you’ll start to see life differently.

19. Talk to everyone

You may call me an introvert. I am a quiet person, I just want to be alone. But that doesn’t mean I’m anti-social. Sometimes I am an extrovert, I like to hang out with friends whenever possible. Even I’m the one that usually invites them to a gathering.

The most fruitful days were when I took the chance to talk to someone at the school or office. Furthermore, it’s essential that you should spark a conversation with someone older than you because chances are you will get more knowledge from t. I always try to befriend anyone even though I am not the most outgoing person in the room.

18. Budget your time like you would money

Generally speaking, anything that is damaged or lost can be reacquired again later; girlfriend, car, job, or even a pen. You can always find a way to retrieve things you formerly owned. You can figure out the problems with your girlfriend, fix your damaged car, find a better job, and simply buy a new pen.

However, time is a much stronger thing than you can imagine. You can never reverse time. Time lost can never be bought back. You might be 22 right now, but 8 years from now you will turn 30, and that’s when you’ll start to worry. You will never get the time, strength, or health you possess today. So beware!

17. Thanking and forgiving

Everybody has a good deed. We love to hear people say “thanks” when we help or praise them. Expressing thanks also gives you a sense of relief and sympathy. There are a lot of things we should be thankful for, we are born with so many blessings. Thus, it is so arrogant that we don’t appreciate others properly enough.

On the other hand, forgiving others shows that you are gentle, gracious, and humane. Some people keep revenge for some errors and blame faults on others. However, forgiving means we see problems from the bright side, and although we have the power to put fight and condemn, we don’t take it. Forgiving makes you human, as to err is human.

16. Surround yourself with awesome friends

We will always need each other. Whether you like it or not, you have to befriend somebody. We can’t live in this world alone. There are so many things we can’t do by ourselves. That’s why we need someone to help, motivate, and be there when we need them.

Having friends teach you that there are a lot of different people in the world. Some of them are generous, thoughtful, caring, or responsible. The others are stupid, clumsy, funny, and crazy. Those are the magic of friends. Awesome friends will break you, mold you, and help you towards your fullest potential. As one quote says: A thousand friends are few, one enemy is too many”.

15. Death is the best life lesson

It is important to ask yourself about the purpose of life. What does this life mean to you? Why do you do what you do? For money? For freedom? For your family? When I find my WHY, I don’t need much more to wake me up in the morning and drive my energy towards being the best person I can be.

In his Commencement Address at Stanford, Steve Jobs said, "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”

That question is rooted deep in my mind. Everybody is going to die someday. Our time is limited, so never waste it living someone else’s life. We should find our own purpose and meaning in life and ignore all the fear of failure. Steve Jobs further explained further that remembering death is the best way to avoid the trap of thinking that you have something to lose. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

14. Learn words in foreign languages

For years I have been learning English, I majored in linguistics at Diponegoro University. I figured out learning a new language is fun I took French class too. It was in my high school back when I was doing a school out program in Borobudur when I first met a foreigner. The aim of the program was to practice our English by talking to foreigners.

However, it turned out that not all foreigners can speak English. Some of them are from other parts of Europe and speak a little bit of English. Then one day I met a man from Germany who is unable to speak English clearly and found it difficult to understand what I said. Fortunately, I know a little bit of German greeting so I said “Willkommen" Indonesien. Then I could see a surprise on his face. Then we talk about his visit to Indonesia, I also mention Mozart whom he turned out to admire.

In the end, when we were going to part, I said: “Auf wiedersehen” which means “See you again”. He smiled and replied, “Next year we come here and you speak German”. It was a really impressive and notable moment. I realized that Language is identity, so to speak other people's language is a part of respect and dignity.

13. Everybody is better than you at something

We are specialists at something. Someone may be good at driving a car, other is good at fixing your car. Even the laziest person in your house is good at something, he is good at staying at home without being depressed, which is very helpful for today’s COVID-19 problem.

The fact is that almost nobody is good at everything. We can always learn something from someone. We are born special, so remember to always respect everyone regardless of their status and appearance. Albert Einstein once said: "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will leave its whole life believing that it is stupid”.

12. A smile makes you wonderful

Dale Carnegie in his famous book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” emphasizes the importance of a smile. He believed that a smile is one life principle that has the ability and power to change any mood. A smile is contagious, like COVID-19 (if I could say so), it spreads quickly from person to person automatically. Carnegie said: “Whether or not we’re pleased to be around depend less on the situation than on our behavior. Rapport is fueled by seemingly minor considerations, such as a friendly, accessible demeanor and a welcoming smile.”

11. See the good things in others

“If you want to gather honey, don’t kick over the beehive.”

This quote reminds us of the importance of self-control. In the same book that Dale Carnegie wrote, he proposes his research on criticizing and complaining to change behavior. In many cases, criminal feels that their action was fair from their perspective, imagine how they would feel if someone criticized and condemned them. The idea is that the more we force approval, the more we fear condemnation. So, start to request changes without punishment, and try to encourage rather than criticize. Before trying to change someone, we should begin with ourselves.

10. Have hobbies

A hobby is very related to your biography. Whenever you write your profile on a club, organization, or survey, it is very likely that they will ask about your hobby. For years, I have never really known what my hobby is. I’ve never been so passionate about doing particular things. I was just doing something because I thought it was fun. But that’s always temporary fun, I never continue to do what is fun at the time.

It was last year when I started to admire photography. Many people said to me “wow your photo looks stunning” and “how did you shoot this?”. Most of the time, I often am the guy who is responsible for taking pictures. I rarely have a good picture of myself, because my friend sometimes couldn’t produce the same composition as the one that I took, so it turns out to be awkward. Having hobbies can lighten your day, you directly know what you’re going to do this morning. You also can manage your time to improve your ability towards that hobby, it helps you to be more productive. So have a hobby!

9. Provide time for traveling

The happiest day for me in my 20s is when I could spend my leisure time or holiday traveling. Visiting new places is the best cure for your hard work. Everybody loves the holiday, but not all people are adventurous to travel to new and farther places. Some people are worried about the budget for traveling and instead of spending it on transportation and accommodation, they chose to spend it on something else. That’s fine actually, you have responsibility for your money. However, traveling is one of the best ways to make fun of your money. Money comes and goes, but time never comes back.

Hiking has been one of my hobbies for the last three years. I can find peace when I am in the middle of trees, plants, fresh air, and river. I prefer to travel to natural places rather than the big city mall and stuff. I think it’s more challenging and refreshing, it’s also cheaper in my opinion. You also may consider visiting other countries. The idea is that the more unfamiliar the place is, the more different the culture is, the better.

Here is how to never miss any student programs abroad.

8. Manage your savings

I have met some people who have trouble and struggling with debts. The consumptive culture has led people to financial problems because they couldn’t manage their cash flow. So make it a point to learn financial literacy. Learn how to file taxes, pay your debts, and start a savings account. Therefore, you can start to prepare for the real world.

I usually divide 20% of my salary to be spent on shopping for things I want to buy, the other 20% into my savings, and the rest is for me to ‘stay alive for one month ahead. I suggest you never try to make a credit card unless you think you have enough and a stable salary. Be wise with your money.

7. Reward yourself

Sometimes we made big goals to finish at a scheduled time. We put so much effort and attention into it that as if all of our energy was wasted. After that, it is good to have a cup of tea and a delicious pizza for dinner. Invite your friend for a sleepover and watch a Korean drama for the whole night. Our mind is designed to deal with a problem. But just like our bodies, they need nutrition to be able to work to their full potential. While food is not always the source of happiness to feed your mind. You can have a break and do something you like and give yourself quality time.

6. Build a network, meet new people

When Bill Gates was in seventh grade, he met Paul Allen. A meeting that was going to be history for technology. Both of them founded Microsoft in 1975, which later changed the way computer work and made them billionaires. When Allen died in 2018, Gates recalls him as his first business partner that has a big influence on him. In fact, Microsoft would have never been founded without Allen. Gates said that Allen has a broad mind and the ability to explain a difficult subject in a simple way. He was the one that shares Gates his passion for computers and basic programming.

Like Bill Gates, we need our Paul Allen. We need someone who has the same passion for something that we love. Therefore, we need to build a network. Meet someone that will share their knowledge and shape you into a better person.

5. Keep in touch

While you broaden your experience of meeting new people, you must keep your old friends in touch. Even if your friends in the office or the ones you meet during your career seem so important and impactful, your old friends are the ones who share your memory. People assumed as we grow up, we need to move life forward, move into a new house, or new city and have our own life. But sometimes you want to experience childhood nostalgic memory in your hometown, meet your elementary school friends, or visit your relatives. Most people think being self-reliant is freedom, but it doesn’t mean that you leave your past behind. There are memories to cherish and by doing so, you feel at home.

4. Family comes first

We began our life with the love of our parents. They are our first teachers, our first mentors, and our heroes. As we grow up, we also made our own families. We wish to do the best for them more than ourselves. In fact, everything started with our family. A healthy and happy family is the beginning of a happy life. So, take into account everything you do. Do it for your family.

3. Love and loss

Love is the most complicated feeling to describe. As a man growing up, we undergo falling in love with someone. Some people achieved the love of someone early in their life and go to their last breath. Some people married young but then divorce after several years. Some people married late, but fate took their loved ones. Some people easily found a new girlfriend after a breakup. Some others fall in love but never get a chance to express it.

As much as you love someone, you should keep in mind that they’re human just like you. They have full control of themselves. They are responsible for their own life and so are you. So, don’t try to change them into something you would like them to be, otherwise accept them for who they are. And as much as you want to get their love, you should be prepared to lose them. We will really understand the meaning of “hello” after we say “goodbye”.

2. Fail boldly

If I failed, I wanted to hide and stop trying. However, when I started intentionally failing — which side note didn’t always result in failure, but in a lesson learned. It was until then that I started to notice something. I saw that my efforts were getting me closer to the desired result, not my pre-fabricated skills or thoughts.

By continually failing, you also made a chance to learn something that will somehow make you better. The most successful is not someone who always wins, but someone who fails and never gives up.

1. Have faith

Human power has a limit. We are bounded to something we live with: food, drink, sleep, etc. The strongest man in the world would later grow old and weak. The richest might go bankrupt and be poor. Healthy people will someday get sick. All of us will soon face death. Nobody wants to die, even someone who wants to go to heaven doesn’t want to die to go there.

Because human has a limit, they need The One that is absolute – God. God decides everything, and humans just can follow the rules and the path. Do everything you want to do by assuming that you are in His protection. You don’t have something to lose. Let Go, and Let God.

Author: Rozan Fahreza is one of our featured champs on Instagram. He is a graduate of English Literature. He is currently teaching English for a School of Language in Jakarta. As a teacher, he is passionate about education and self-development. He believes that every person deserves a quality education and the freedom to decide who they want to be. Throughout his college years, he has been doing multiple research on cultural communication across diverse communities in Indonesia. He also actively participated in national and international events where he won some awards and achievements. Now, he is pursuing his dream to get a Master's degree in Language Education with a scholarship.

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