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Lessons of our Twenties

While I am 28, I feel like I’m basically 30. Mentally I’m ready to leave this decade behind because it’s had so many low lows, but as a close friend of mine just turned 29 and another is turning 30, I’ve been asking people what lessons they’ve learned in the past decade of life. Below are some of the responses:

1) “One should not be so critical of one’s looks because they only keep fading…so whatever you’ve got right now is better than future you.”

2) “I have learned that I can trust my instincts.”

3) In a similar vein: “No one is paying attention to what you say, so you can say what ever. There’s no need to agonize over saying the right thing.”

4) “I have learned to care a lot less about what other people think.”

5) “I suspect no one really knows anything—we are all just making educated guesses.”

6) SImilarly “All organizations are highly dysfunctional and making up most of what they do as they go along.”

7) “Compatibility and trust are more important than passion.”

8) “It’s important to be busy so you don’t think too hard about depressing things” (note: I don’t really agree with this one, but I am also around death all day.”

9) “We must treasure friendships because life is cruel.” (The twenties marked when my first friend passed away and the first person I heard about passing away who I was actually close to)

10) “No one is really that smart or attractive, so there’s no need to feel inferior.”

11) “Learning to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

12) “Being at peace without knowing answers.”

13) “Knowing how to breathe!”

14) “Feel free to burn bridges. People are snakes.” (I have to agree with this one. I ended a major friendship in my twenties, and I thought there would be more lasting repercussions than there were. It turns out it’s okay to burn bridges because sometimes you can engineer life to see that person never again. But obviously not always.)

15) “Your job satisfaction is more related to your co-workers over what you’re actually doing.”

16) “Don’t wait for anyone or you’ll never do anything.”

17) “Love your family”

18) “Trust no one.”

19) “Have some patience.”

20) “Don’t get too close to toxic people.” (those snakes!)

21) “Don’t change who you are to fit in.”

22) “Your parents are wiser than you once thought.” (Very true. And sad that they have somewhat given up on parenting me.)

23) “Failure is part of the process.”

24) “Resisting being an asshole may pay dividends in the long run.”

25) “The whole 20% of people do 80% of the work is accurate.”

26) “Everything works out in time. Somehow it all falls into place.”

27) “ Quitting gets easier after the first time.”

28) “Don’t expect too much from authority figures.”

29) “Life is easier if all your clothing is black.”

30) “Jazz is a perfect metaphor for everything.” (reader note: I hate jazz!!)

Several of these lessons seems more work-related than anything else, and I wonder if this says anything about my friends or this phase of our lives.

I was taking a Spanish class in Granada with a bunch of Dutch 19-year-olds who were all on their gap year. Our teacher asked us if we had ever been stood up in Spanish because that week’s vocabulary was on relationship. At the overripe age of 26, I said I had been stood up many times, but my 19-year-old comrades did not seem to have experienced this phenomenon yet. I realized that all the pain and bitterness of being stood up just showed that my 7 years of life on these teens was time spent living.

P.S. I did not intend to copy a recent Taylor Swift article, but alas.

P.P.S. I also appear to have travelled to 30 countries before my 30th birthday, so that is a goal that I was not intentionally trying to achieve that was achieved.

Shara AzadComment