A list of truths we ought to learn in our twenties: Part 2

Part 1 here.

#4: That age doesn’t grant me entitlement to anything I haven’t worked for

I must admit, it took months for me to get this. For the longest time, I thought that after graduating college, I can just sit comfortably in my room while all the opportunities in the world come knocking on my door. I’m young and so full of potential; surely an adventure is just right around the corner, heading straight toward me.

I couldn’t have been any more mistaken. I used to see nothing but my target goal – to travel the world. I failed to see the many zigzags I have to go through in order to actually get there because, contrary to what most travel bloggers say, it sometimes isn’t as easy as simply packing your stuff and booking a flight. You work… and you work hard. You plan and you have to take risks in order to execute that plan. You can’t just expect things to fall into place.

And it isn’t just feeling entitled to fulfillment of personal goals and aspirations. I noticed how a lot of my peers have become more impatient and unconsciously rude as they get older. Some of us demand respect before we’re even willing to give it. I see this in little things like refusing to give way in traffic or complaining to the waiter about the food being cold after spending ten minutes trying to take an Instagram-worthy photo of it. Some of us demand attention before even paying attention, or we demand true love but reject compromise.

We want to receive great things more than we want to actually do great things. The truth is, when our main objective in life is to have great things happen to us, we completely miss out on all the great things that can happen through us.

#5: That Thought Catalog is not a textbook for life

I have nothing against Though Catalog or any similar blogs and websites. I enjoy reading their articles from time to time because they give me a variety of interesting perspectives. And because the people behind these blogs are usually our age, I totally understand why we find encouragement, inspiration and a sense of connection to those who read and write their posts.

I used to visit these sites every day without fail for a couple of weeks. But then gradually, I began to notice how every single post I clicked – even the ones that had nothing to do with me – affected me deeply without me really being conscious of it. I remember reading a post about a list of things I supposedly should have done before reaching my twenties and then feeling substandard afterward because I couldn’t cross out most of the things that were on there.

Maybe it’s because it’s in our nature to find comfort in the similarities we share with others, or maybe it’s because it’s also in our nature to anticipate conflict in our differences, but I found that the posts I read usually made me feel either of two extremes – extremely satisfied or extremely discouraged.

Sometimes, without even meaning to, we fall in love with ideas, thoughts, beliefs and experiences of people who, no matter how much they assert to be true, could never really know what it’s like to be in our shoes – the same way I could never know what it’s like to be you. We all write from our own personal reality; the authors of Thought Catalog and BuzzFeed are no different. Going into it, I’m pretty sure we know that. But still, when we come across a list of ten things that would supposedly prove we’ve found our true love, it’s hard to look at our current love and give a small, depressed sigh when we discover that we only have six things in common with the list.

Often, we take our own ideas and experiences for granted when we come across someone else’s that seems to outshine ours. We judge our life unfairly by setting other people’s lives – or rather, what they portray to be their lives – as the standard.

But the truth is this: there is no freaking formula for life. The best that we can do for ourselves is to do the things that are right for us, believe in the things that we can actually have complete faith in, and love ourselves regardless of how much social media tells us how uncool we are. If we’re going to read Thought Catalog, let’s read it for what it is – a fun read, not something we can use to pressure ourselves into becoming someone we’ve read about in the Internet.

#6: That our twenties is more about discovering what we really want and less about doing everything we want the moment we want it

People say that our twenties is the perfect time to do everything and anything we want, and I guess it’s true. We’re old enough to do the things we were too young to do before, but we’re also young enough to not be judged when we choose to do what we want to do instead of doing what we’re supposed to do.

What is it that people always say? That it’s better to just go ahead and do something crazy or bold instead of forever regretting not doing it and wondering what if. But regret doesn’t just come from not doing something. Regret also comes when we become so fixated on doing everything we think we want instead of finding out what is it we really truly want. I learned that a lot of times doing everything we want the moment we want it can lead to regretting it later.

I don’t know about you but I have a very long list of things I thought I wanted to do and goals I thought I wanted to achieve that have since been discarded in a trash bin labeled as “just a phase” – tattoos, a flashy career, marriage at 25, the list goes on and on. I also have quite the list of things I thought I wanted to do, ended up doing, and later regretted – things that until now I still wish I could change. And I’m only 23! I’m pretty sure these lists will get longer as the years go by.

I guess my point is: why spend our twenties being preoccupied with doing every single thing that gives us, at best, temporary gratification, when we can spend it seeking that which can ultimately give us a lifetime of happiness?


2 thoughts on “A list of truths we ought to learn in our twenties: Part 2

  1. Flora Pan July 27, 2014 / 4:23 pm

    I definitely liked the second point you made about Thought Catalog. Just like you, I’ve read that same article about things I should’ve done before your twenties, and boy, did that make me feel lame and sad. I’ve yet to come across writing that not only targets my age, but also my lifestyle, so I settle for reading the ones for my age. I know it’s wrong to judge my own life based on standards other people have set, but how could I resist? It always feels like I’m not doing it right by spending my time indoors watching dramas, but is it wrong though? If the time I spend on those dramas are fully enjoyable and I have learned a lot about myself and the world around me after those hours, is it still a waste of time like everybody else tells me?

    • Kathryn G July 28, 2014 / 4:07 pm

      I think that we all start out that way in a sense. We find ourselves going back and forth between wanting to be accepted by our peers and desperately trying to be ourselves. At the end of the day though, if we’re contented with who we are and what we’re doing, that’s all that should matter.Time is never wasted when we’re happy with ourselves.

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