Answer from a 23 year old:
Some of the things I have learned during my first 23 years on this planet.
- Your parents had it harder than you.
When you are a kid you naturally assume money grows in trees and get
pissed at your parents when they do not buy you your favourite toy. With
time you realize they did their best and you overestimated the financial status of your household and got disappointing in the process. Only after I
joined my job and currently trying to figure out ways to cut cost and save
a little I have understood how hard it is to make money.
And my parents grew up without mobiles. internet and every other thing we
take for granted nowadays.
- Time is the most valuable commodity.
No matter how much money I make now I can never go back to school and do things I did not care about at that time. I really wanted to stand for School President but never had the guts to take up a public post. I tried to compensate by getting elected to my College’s Student Council as a Representative but it is not the same thing. Nor can I go back and ask out the girls I wanted to. Or have the carefree life again. College is also over and there are many things I wished I had done but never did due to my own procrastinating nature. Live in the moment and seriously do the shit you want to. Once you do not and time passes you wont be able to go back.
- Your friends matter a lot more than you think.
I wrote about this earlier too in my answer : Manas J Saloi’s answer to What are some things people lose that they regret the most? Trust me as you go older you will make fewer friends and the innocence of the old friendships will no longer be there. You will talk mature stuff and try to hang out with your colleagues. Both are not mutually exclusive but still not the same.
- Learn to accept your bodies as they are.
I had much more hair a few years back and will have fewer as years go by. I
was never satisfied and used a lot of hair gel and other stuff I regret using now. I was never satisfied with myself. Remain fit but do not obsess with losing too much weight or having the perfect hair do. With time you will learn to be comfortable in your skin. I know this is sick but whenever I feel bad about myself I wonder what does my paralyzed cousin feel who has lost the workings of both his legs in a freak accident and has remained bed ridden for the last 10+ years.
You are OK however you are. Do not bitch about your friend with beautiful hair or that guy with the perfect abs. Be happy with your less than perfect curly hair.
- We really need to pick up a hobby or something which excites us greatly.
Most people wont be in their dream jobs. You will come back pissed at something that happened at work today or how your Boss thinks you are an idiot. Unless you have some activity to relax, calm your mind, make you smile again you will really feel like shit. Start going to the gym, start writing, start learning new languages. Occupy your mind.
- Everything is not perfect and never will be.
There will be problems with your parents, at your job, in your love life. You will be frustrated if you try to make everything right all at the same time. It is only because you think everything should occur as you planned that you become sad. Learn to let go. Accept you will always face problems. You girlfriend is not perfect, nor is your job and the least of all this planet. Everything is not all sunshine and honky dory.
- Sometimes your happiness is a lot closer to you than you think.
While you are being angry for not getting the attention of that cute girl at
office you forget to notice your room mate going out of the way to do something for you that day. Or that call from your parents. Or that perfect moon lit night where you can take a stroll. Learn to enjoy the little things nearby than the things you have no control over.
- Relationships are overrated and sometimes being single can be the best thing for you.
People see their friends getting hitched all the time and often wonder how nice it would be to have a girl friend. Most get into a relationship just for the sake of getting one and not because they are ready. Do not make the same mistake. Love will happen. In time. You will make a lot of mistakes in relationships and will end up a better man because of it.
We tend to drift away from our parents as we grown up. Settle in a different place. We never realize how much that one phone call at night means to them. No matter how much busy you are do find some time for them. For most Indian parents we are everything to them. The result of all their sacrifices, blood and tears. See the happiness in their voice when you announce about your new job. Soon they will be gone and you will miss them. And one day you will turn into them too. You will have your own kids. Treat your parents like you want your own kids to treat you one day.
- “Too many people spend money they haven’t earned to buy things they don’t want to impress people they don’t like.”
Think about it. We have all seen people doing over time at their office, working on things they do not enjoy to earn money they won’t be able to spend. Even if we earn millions in a financial year but have no time to spend on things that matter to us then there is no point of that millions.
Do not wait until it is too late. I wrote about this in Manas J Saloi’s answer to What makes young men turn into grumpy old men?
- Being in a rat race is the worse thing you can do to yourself. Because even if you win the race you are still a rat.
Read this line somewhere and it is the most profound thing a guy in his early 20s can learn in this life. For an Indian the race to be ahead of everyone else begins in his childhood- Tuitions, School Classes, Olympiads, IIT Coaching, IIT, Tech Job, fight for promotion, the biggest house. Only when you are old enough you learn to look back in retrospect and wonder if it was all worth it and if a big house with a pool was all you wanted from your life. So stop for once and think. Do not run after things you have no interest in because society thinks it is important. Leave the rat race. NOW.
- Never tell all your problems to people. You might think that they care. But most of them will judge you. Others will consider weak. Sort out your problems yourself and do not seek sympathy.
“You might want to travel around the world. Live an exciting life. But always remember that no matter where you go, as long as you do not have the people who matter around you, you will never be truly happy. You might think that we live a boring life doing the same thing everyday but it is still worth it because it has made your education possible and given you the facilities we never had.”
The above two pieces of advice were given to me by my mom once.
- Steve Jobs once said “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
I could not get into IITs even during my second attempt and secured a place in the extended merit list. It was after I had dropped a year ins pite of getting into a few NITs. It became hell for me. People began to poke fun of me saying IIT’s are not for everyone. You have to think outside the box and what not. And most of these people were not Engineers or had a remote idea about IIT preparation or B.Tech degrees. I got a good score in BITSAT and joined BITS Goa CS Dept. It was the best decision I ever made. Not only I managed to live in Goa for 4 years I met there some of the smartest bunch of people I could have hoped to spend my college years with. I have a comfortable job now, good friends, managed to do a lot during my college time and in retrospect could probably achieve a lot more only because I failed at JEE. So never lose hope