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22 things I've learned in 22 years

By Hafsa Zia

By the time this article is posted, I will be 22. I don’t feel old but I do have an acute awareness of the passage of time. Twenty-two isn’t a very special age, like 18 when you’re legally an adult. It’s just clumped under your early 20’s, but I think it’s special for two reasons.

One, it’s the second birthday after you eleventh birthday in which the digits are the same. I realized there was no official name for this, so from now on I proclaim these birthdays be called your twin digit birthdays. Let’s make #twindigit a thing. And secondly, this birthday is special because Taylor Swift literally wrote a song called “22.” And if that isn’t a reason to celebrate then coolcoolcoolcool, you’re not into T Swift and that’s respectable.

So to celebrate turning 22, here are 22 things I’ve learned in 22 years.

Warning, it’s about to get deep.

Nothing trumps hard work. 

If you want something, the dream is free but the hustle is sold separately. I have learned that hard work and patience are the keys to getting what you want. Nothing stands in the way of people who are dedicated and work for what they want.

Your company defines you – surround yourself with good people.

The people you hang out with have a big impact on you. They can either hold you back from your true potential or push you forward. They can either help you become a better person, or have a negative impact on you. So choose wisely.

Trust your gut

This one isn’t entirely objective but I think we all know the feeling having a feeling. There are a lot of times where I wished I had followed that gut feeling but instead went with the flow, or allowed myself to be talked out of it.

Wear clothes that make you feel confident

Confidence is important. Wear what makes you feel like a CEO or just Boss AF. Wearing clothes that make you feel comfortable allow you to be your best, authentic self. The key word here is clothes that make YOU feel comfortable. So keep in mind that you don’t have to follow a particular style. Create your own style.

It’s okay to not know everything

I used to dismiss new information or pretend that I knew what was being talked about because I didn’t want to come across as someone who didn’t. But that led to me not learning anything new and thinking I know everything, which is a really dangerous combination as it hinders personal growth. But thankfully, I grew out of that quick and now I’m happy that I don’t know everything because there’s no fun in that. You get to ask more questions and develop a more inquisitive mind this way.

Kindness always has a way of repaying itself

I will repeat this over and over again. It is ALWAYS worth it to be kind. You will always see it repaid, one way or another. Kindness also softens your heart and allows you to intimately connect with people. It helps you realize we all need each other to get through the day.

Not everyone will be your fan- and that’s okay

There will be people who dislike you or don’t prefer your company, and that’s completely okay. I mean they shouldn’t be a dick about it but let it be. Find your people and take solace in them. Don’t waste your energy trying to please everyone. Focus that energy on people that matter, it’s so much more rewarding.

Push yourself

“Growth doesn’t happen in your comfort zone.” Learn to push yourself in a healthy way. In order to grow, you have to be willing to try something new and to not be afraid of failure. That failure doesn’t mean anything. It just shows you that you are capable but you need a bit more practice to master it.

Read more books

Book aren’t just entertainment. They’re weapons of mass destruction. Books can open up new doors, give you a fresh perspective, teach you, be a companion, provide new information etc. They help you get out of the little bubble that we find ourselves in.

Learn how to apologize

This one is important. We are all going to be wrong multiple times in our lifetime. Developing the ability to apologize, is extremely important in mending relationships. We all do a bunch of stuff we regret, but we make it worse by letting our egos get in the way. A simple “I’m sorry, I was wrong” can go a long way. It’s not easy but entirely worth it. I’m still working on this.

Learn to admit your faults

This isn’t the same as no.10. Learning to admit your faults is different from apologizing. Admitting your flaws allows you to grow as a person because it shows you what you need to improve. For example, if I’m not getting good grades, and I keep telling myself it was because of the teacher, or my commute, or I can do it but I just didn’t try, then I’m not admitting that the real problem here. The problem is that I’m not delegating my time or putting in the correct effort. I’m blaming my problem on others.

Pursue your hobbies

It’s so important to keep doing the side things you love. It helps you focus on other things in your life that demand more attention. Hobbies help you grow as a person, they make you more interesting. They prevent you from wasting time by doing unnecessary things when you’re free (scrolling Instagram for hours). That just rots your brain and potential.

Make time for family and friends

This is something I’m still working on. Your family and friends are your support system. It’s important to connect with and bond with them. It’s like a refreshing breath of air. It keeps you grounded and shows you the real things that are worth it in life.

Form meaningful relationships

Whether it be at school or at work, forming meaningful relationships help you look forward to the day. Forming connections with people, helps you in so many ways. It can help you as both an individual and professional.

Find a mentor

This one has made a big impact on my life. Mentors serve as a source of inspiration. They provide you with advice and life lessons. They see where we need to improve, where we often can’t. They find ways to help us grow individually and professionally. They also serve as a source of encouragement when things aren’t going right. They can be like family.

Exercise!

Taking care of your body is so important. Your future self will thank you for it. Working out not only helps you mentally but physically as well. It keeps you energized, and fit. Teaches your persistence and patience. There are so many health benefits. No cons, just pros.

Try new food

Try different cuisines. You’ll never know you like it until it’s in your mouth and your taste buds decide. Different cuisines help you appreciate different cultures and the story behind the dishes. Food is something that has historically always brought people together

Show vulnerability

This one has been a tricky one for me because it is scary being vulnerable, but I have found that it has allowed me to form deep connections with people. It helps create a more transparent world.

Asking for help is important

Don’t be afraid. We’re not meant to be able to do everything. In fact, I would argue that we’re meant to ask for help to allow us to connect with people. To allow us to learn that we’re all vulnerable and need each other.

Stressing unnecessarily is a waste of time

Pointless stressing just wastes your energy. Learn to delegate or let go. Direct that energy into something more fun or relaxing. Stressing doesn’t do anything except stress you out more

Learn to be flexible

Not everything will always go as planned. In fact, in my experience things rarely go as planned. So learn not to stress about it, or get angry and impatient. Shit happens. Oh well. Thank you, next. Flexible people are the most fun to hang out with because they know how to go with the flow.

I learned how to talk, walk, survive and most importantly, that I have a lot more to learn.