Life lessons are hard to learn but come in handy when you are preparing for tougher challenges. We all learn our lessons the moment we start to see, touch, hear and experience. My life lessons are quite the same. I won’t tell you stories about how I learnt all these lessons. There will be 25 long stories followed by plots and sub-plots and small incidents. We become who we are by what we experience. I understand this fully.
We become who we are by what we experience.
I just turned 26 and it feels like I have reached a time in life where things have finally started taking shape. There are lesser friends and our friendships have changed too. There are lesser number of people on my list. I still focus on multiple things at a time and I haven’t read any book in peace in a long, long time. Life keeps changing but I wonder how everything is still the same and yet it feels so different. Our experiences depend on where we are in life but also depends on who we feel like. It is not that I have always felt like the best of the best. There were many a times when my confidence was shattered and many more times when life knocked me down and I was tapping out, trying to break the lock desperately.
That is how philosophy begins. This will be a long read and I suggest you read it in its entirety. It will be easier to connect the dots and form the picture of a life that I have lived. Again, I may not explain what happened but I hope you get an idea.
25 life lessons I learnt at 26
Here comes the real deal. These life lessons may sound very different to you. Some may sound familiar. Just read once you start and keep reading. Don’t stop.
1. It’s all okay
A lot of things happen in life you know. You get knocked down, punched, beaten, threatened. There are so many bad things that happen to you but eventually, it is all okay. I don’t think there is anything that the human soul cannot endure. We are a tough species and we have the grit, collectively and individually, to go through crises and still emerge victorious, or at least become the survivors. Whatever is happening to you, it is okay. We often lose hope hope but don’t worry. It is okay. It will be all right.
2. Not all things matter
So many things occupy our mind all through the day and not all of that matters. Of the 100 things that bothered me a year ago, 99 are gone and do not really hold a candle to the bigger scheme of things. I see that. Not all things matter and they must be identified. They must not be given enough thought.
3. You don’t need too many friends
‘Friends are like melons, shall I tell you why?
To find one good, you must a hundred try’
There is absolutely no need for too many friends in your life. Finding one is enough, finding two is a blessing. Finding three is impossible but well, if it happens, you are God’s favorite child. Honestly, you don’t need a lot of friends. As you grow up, the number of your friends will go down naturally. There will be a lot of people who you have a great time with, share stuff and more, but there will only be a few, maybe only a couple of people who will know you like your shadow. When you are down, depressed, you may not need more than that one person who understands.
4. We are all alike
You know why experience is important? It is because most of us are alike and have experienced similar emotions. We all have been through a troubled teenage, have seen parents fight, have seen families falling apart, experienced love pretty much the same way, lost our first crush to stupidity or an inability to speak, been proud, been rude, have not spoken when we could have. There are so many things that are the same, with some variations obviously. This means that it is easier to connect with people on a deeper emotional level than we think.
5. Loneliness can kill people
I don’t know how many documented cases there are of loneliness killing people. All I know is that deep down we all know that loneliness is the worst kind of disease that a human mind can suffer. Loneliness kills people, makes them sad and depressed. We all know that it has some dire implications. Yet, we all are so lonely.
6. Drama queens and tamasha kings deserve a stage, not my life
Ah! The drama queens and the tamasha kings. I don’t hate them per say. They are mildy amusing. In fact, I have even considered starting a theater company for all these people to provide a platform to their amazing talent. Little did I know that they act on a different stage. They like to make situations worse, create so much drama that you would eventually ask them to leave the stage (your life) and not even pay them their dues. I can’d stand too much drama. Not needed. Save thy stamina.
7. Not all relationships have names
Some relationships genuinely don’t have a name. We casually call them friends but they are not really friends. These are people we instantly connect with, these are people who we interact with because we like it, these are people we feel like sharing a deep secret with and yet, they are neither relatives, nor friends, not even lovers. They are people, souls that just connect. Now if the relationship is with someone of an opposite gender, people will be quick to call it love. It is not love for devil’s sake. These are very humane, very soulful little relationships that own a special place in your heart but do not have a name. These are very, very real.
8. Life is boring and monotonous
As a teenager, my primary motto in life was to escape monotony. I carried this to my early twenties as well. Damn! Monotony? No way. I want something thrilling, exciting. The field I chose was apt. It brought tons of new things my way every day. However, these new things also had to be processed the old, boring, monotonous way. Isn’t it monotonous to eat three meals a day, one evening tea, one snack with a friend when you meet? Isn’t it hell monotonous to meet the same friend at the same old restaurant and order the same old thing each time? Damn. Life is monotonous. You can’t help it.
9. Economics should be a compulsory subject in schools
I don’t care what your career goals are, who you want to be in life or what exactly you know about the world. Do you have basic understanding of Economics? If not, your eyes are closed. You should know how things work. You should know market competition. You should know how the central banks work. Your elected representatives must give you a plan for the economic betterment of your area, even if he is merely a municipal reprsentative. You must know these things. Economics should be a compulsory subject in schools taught by street-smart teachers who give real life examples to help students understand.
10. Love is a full time job
Forget about everything else. Love is a full time job. You have to invest in yourself, in the person you love and the relationship that you share. You need to work on things, on your own insecurities and then work on the insecurities of your partner. It is a tough job, damn it! It is a tough job. I don’t really believe in finding someone who you can talk to daily and go around town with. I don’t know if I believe in that. I don’t know if I would fight with my partner over petty issues. I know that it would demand something more serious, almost a surgical approach.
11. Proximity isn’t closeness
Just because you spend a lot of time with someone, doesn’t mean that they understand you or you love them. It can be quite the opposite. I mean, we spend a lot of time with our colleagues, but your God knows how close you are to them. Proximity won’t necessarily mean closeness. I am close to a few people who aren’t even within a 1000 km range. It is okay. I am not close to people living within 10 km of my home. That doesn’t matter. Connections form between people because they want to be close, not because they are always sitting next to each other.
12. Let them go
If anyone desires not to be a part of your life anymore, let them go. Maybe I stopped people earlier, maybe I asked them to stay earlier but in my most recent memory, I don’t really remember asking anyone to stop. No. You want to go, you are free to leave. It hurts you know. Some people think they get an easy pass as I don’t say much and quietly go back to my den, focusing on something else. Truth is, it hurts. But I don’t see a point in asking people to stop. Eventually, people do what they want to do. How long can you really stop them? They can very well go on with their lives without letting you know and you will live in a delusion forever. Some people choose this delusion and maybe there is nothing wrong in it. Maybe this makes them happy. Not here. Not me. I will let you go. I may or may not look back.
13. Flexibility is important
You have to be flexible. You have to allow your point of view, your perception and your approach to change with changing times. You can think one way of a person but leave some space for reconsideration. A person you may have thought as an angel may not really be it and vice versa. We need to be flexible. A friend who talked to you every day may not be able to give as much time now. Don’t worry. It is okay. Be flexible. Allow some changes.
14. People change
While our basic fabric remains the same, we do experience some changes in life. At an age like this, you and people around you are constantly changing, adjusting to new lives, new jobs, new lifestyles. People will change for sure and they may not have full control over what they are becoming. The expectation that things will be the same is quite dangerous. I once went back to my school and thought that the same environment will make me feel the same way. It did not. I met someone close from college and thought that we would be as comfortable in each other’s company as before, and I was not. People change and it is not only my friend that had changed, it was me too.
15. Stop blaming others all the time
‘People always hurt me’
‘No one can love you like I did’
‘She was a bird, he was a cage. She flew away one day’
‘One day you will understand…’
Blah blah blah….
I am honestly tired of hearing all this. Tables turn frequently. Not talking about karma here. But these social media posts drive me crazy. There are three people I know who did a few things to people. You know, they handled a relationship a certain way. Then, when they became the victim of the same situation, they start sharing stupid emotional messages on social media. I mean, why?
This person says that he did everything he could to maintain a relationship and keep things cool. He said that he goes through a lot to keep this relationship alive. He thinks that he is a victim of this situation and the other person is to be blamed. He often forgets that two years ago, someone else was quietly doing the same things for him, taking time out for him, helping him cope with depression, trying to lift his spirits when he was down, helping him feel happy and giving him ample time and attention. He responded the same way back then- he also didn’t care. Why share messages of shattered emotions now? Sensitive people will understand their own mistakes as well.
16. Advertising relationship/friendship quarrels should be counted as a sin
We all fight with our friends sometimes, don’t we? What would you do if you fought with your friend or are being bothered by something your friend does?
You should talk to your friend. Ask them what is wrong. Be sympathetic. Ask what is going on. Ask if they need help. Ask if they need some space. Just ask damn it, ask.
But no. You would go on sharing ‘pictures with quotes’, sad status messages everywhere on social media, angry posts on how ‘someone’ should learn to respect other people’s emotions, should do this, do that, what not. Ten more people will ask you what happened and then you would go on a rampage to tarnish the image of this friend. Finally, after gaining attention and victimization points, you will come back to your senses and revive the friendship. A day later, you will post pics of you people together, having fun. WTF. Don’t people see that there is a serious problem in this type of behavior?
17. Different people react differently to situations
There was a moment in my life that was shattering and depressing enough. At that moment, I did not cry. Not one tear. Not one. Was I sad? Yes. Was I shattered? Yes. Did I cry? No.
Why didn’t I cry? I don’t know.
I cried about it two days later, when no one was looking.
People react differently to different situations. Not all react the same way you want them to. Not all will love the same way you love them. Not all will be putting efforts the same way you do. But this doesn’t mean they don’t put efforts at all. While you may want to throw me a grand party, I may want to take you out for a quiet dinner and give you nothing but one flower and 5 hours of my time. While you may want to be the only one with me on a vacation, I may want to bring a group of friends who all will make our vacation more fun. Ideas, reactions, different things.
18. You have to learn to take responsibility for your actions
As much as one may hate it, the truth is that we do have some control over our actions. Maybe everything is pre-determined. Maybe fate wrote everything in stone and we cannot do anything but follow the instructions. But there could at least be some kind of freedom. For once, can I say that ‘I did something because I wanted to’ and not ‘because things just happened’. Everybody is satisfied with the second answer. ‘Things just happened’. Yes. You are a human being with highly developed brain function. Things can’t just happen, not always. How long can you be under the influence of a situation. If I am with someone, am I there because, ‘what to do? No other option’ or am I there because ‘I want to be with you’.
Maybe that is one of my expressions of love. That is one of the ways I express that you are important. I am giving a share of my time to you, of my existence to you and this is not because fate is forcing me, it is because I WANT TO. Oh yes, I may be busy sometimes. Oh yes, I maybe caught up in things sometimes. Happens. I have responsibilities and work too. I am focusing on them because I WANT TO. Not because I HAVE TO. It is because I WANT TO.
Not that I am perfect with this thing yet. But I am trying to make this a part of my life. Become more responsible for my actions. I often make mistakes here. I try to go with the flow. Try to let things happen. Eventually, you look back and wonder, whether the things that happened, happened because of fate or because you wanted them to. What a vexing question. We will find an answer someday.
19. A friend will often disagree with you, but will never be a ‘yes man’
If I wanted someone to say ‘yes’ to everything I would develop an app. Friends don’t do that. Your friend must have the guts to speak up when you are wrong, show you the mirror, help you correct your course if you are going on the wrong one. ‘Yes men’ often land you up in a deep pit of self destruction and blame you for all the damage too. God forbid such people from coming to my life ever again. If they say yes to everything or just leave it on you to decide when they can offer guidance, they are not friends, they are snakes. Kill them serpents!
20. Be humble
It feels so great to walk around the room with your head held high and pride in your heart. I love that too. Pride is an important subject to me. Your pride, however, should not brush off people. You have to be humble. You have to treat the sweeper the same way you treat a CEO. You have to meet both with a smile. Your sunny disposition should cheer people up. My nana tells me that you don’t have to look up all the time, look down and feel proud only when you have their support. He is right.
You can’t go up on a ladder filled with resentment from those working below you. You have to respect them equally. There is nothing wrong in offering water, tea and snacks to people reconstructing your house. You won’t go down as stupid and it will not hurt your pride at all. Pride is built, developed and cultivated as a positive trait of those who are in positions of power and can help others, even in small ways. When you believe pride segregates you from people, it develops into vanity and that is exactly where your fall begins.
21. God isn’t your savior, you are
There will be many times in life when you will have to focus on God, ask for help, seek guidance. Truth be told, you save yourself. Of course there are stories about people getting divine guidance and interference and it makes so much sense to many. Cool. However, I know that whatever I got, even the smallest of things, was received after hard work. By hard work, I mean really very hard work. There was no God to save me from anything. If anything was achieved, it was achieved because you worked really really hard to get it.
There may be a God. Who knows? I don’t think he has anything to do with any of our lives. If I was God and I created this planet with life, I would have ensured that my people learn, work hard and then taste the sweet taste of success. I would not have jumped to help on many or any occasions at all. I might have left my people alone to become their best self because the greatest power God gave to humans, if God exists, is to use their brains, their muscle and their intelligence to find a way in life. How you prepare yourself is what matters. God can be a faith, a source of energy and power but God cannot be your savior.
22. Limiting your choices is a great way to be happy
There are many ways to be happy. You could be happy by buying things, travelling, spending time with people, blah blah! I think that one of the best ways to be happy is to limit your choices. You must find things and stick to them or have a narrower ranger within which you can freely move. Going to a supermarket or departmental store never made anyone happy. There are so many choices, bright, beautiful, delicious and snobbish that you could never be happy with the thing you have. It is better to define a range of things which make you happy and then stick to them. The world is a better place in that case and life is so much better.
23. We are looking for a hero
We all are looking for a hero. Common people go through so much each day and feel so helpless that they want to see a reflection of their dreams in someone else. Parents see the reflections of their dreams in their children and some like to worship sportsmen, actors and politicians. People are looking for representation and still, so many people remain unrepresented. There is democracy, there is freedom of speech and yet, so much is left unspoken. We look for heroes because we want someone to speak for us or at least live the life that we want to live. And we follow them like lost puppies.
24. You are a different person when you are alone
I guess we all will agree on this one. We are different when we are with people and our personality often shifts when we are alone. How we behave when we are alone, what we think, what all crosses through our minds could be a true reflection of who we are. Our grit, determination, outlook can all be defined in the best way when we are alone. Maybe that is why it is so intriguing to find and read a diary. They are just such beautiful reflections of humans in their truest, realest and faulty forms. We all have songs we listen to, only when we are alone because they touch the heart in places we would rather not show or share or even acknowledge the existence of.
25. Control is a human flaw
The greatest flaw and the greatest strength of humans is in ensuring that they control everything. They want to control their environment, their people, their families, their kids, their planet and even the solar system and beyond. All great wars in history were fought to exert control over a larger part of the world or at least, not having another one grab control of what you call yours. Man’s quest for control has dragged this race to a new era where lack of control sound stupid, almost a prehistoric idea. All our greatest quests have been about exerting more control. Yet, humans, as a whole, control nothing. This is the most important and most complex part of our lives- control. Can we really control anything? Can we really control anyone or anything? Can we, really?
There is so much more that I have learnt and there is so much more to share. But, another time. 🙂