Intentional LivingMindfulness

22 Things I Learned by 22

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*Technically, I turned 22 in 2017 but this is an old piece I wrote about things I learned that’s still relevant today.

I turned 22 around mid-August and have been meaning to post a reflection on things I have learned by 22. Whether it’s related to school, being abroad, family, relationships, friendships, and so forth, I know that there are many lessons I’ve come across, but these are some that stuck out most:

  1. First and foremost, love yourself.
    • As cliche as it may sound, you must love yourself before you’re able to love someone else. Overexerting yourself to love someone else when the person β€˜loving’ isn’t accepting of themselves is an issue, since it can cause you to not only lose yourself but possibly begin mistaking love as something it’s not (in your terms). Which brings me to my next point:
  2. Love comes in many forms, and there is no one definition.
    • I genuinely believe that people’s definitions of love are shaped by society, media, their family, and their past relationships. Regardless if people want to admit it, they have expectations for what love is, mixing it together with their definition of what they want love to be. Now, that isn’t to say a combination of what you want and what it is is wrong, but it highlights the fact that there are so many forms of love, and depending on the person, it may not be fully understood by others. Nonetheless, it does not invalidate your interpretation of love, and I find it so beautiful knowing that love is something that encompasses a wide array of possibilities.
  3. The unknown can eat away at you, but you have the power to not let it affect you.
    • People tend to believe that there are some things in life that you simply have no control over. I used to be that person. And in a sense, I still am that person, but I have learned over time that we have more power than we give ourselves credit for. Now, this isn’t to say that if you can’t find that power, you are weak and defenseless, rather it’s saying that we are capable of so much, and there is something hindering the accomplishments. Sometimes that hindering factor is yourself. The first step to overcoming that obstacle is recognizing it exists.
  4. People will disagree with your thoughts and ideas, but that doesn’t mean they’re right and you’re wrong.
    • Stay educated. Stay “woke” as millennials say. People will fight you because they’ll say that what they know is right, especially when it conflicts with the things you believe in. However, their limited perspective on a certain issue or topic should not dissuade you from staying firm on your own beliefs. Not everyone will fully understand, comprehend, or even want to agree with you, but that doesn’t mean you’re in the wrong. You just have a different perspective, have lived through a different generation, and if you do your part in having a conversation with people who don’t agree with you, you’re already doing so much more than those who refuse to have the conversation in the first place.
  5. Don’t ignore the emotion of jealousy, as it can be important in the journey of self improvement.
    • Your jealousy toward other people reveals an insecurity about yourself. Rather than dismiss those feelings, recognize what it might say about how you feel about yourself and channel those feelings into positive change. I see two types of positive change: shift in perspective and the internal push to improve a part of yourself. A shift in perspective, such as being jealous of someone having so many friends, would tell you to be thankful for those you do have. A push to change yourself, such as seeing someone successful in creative or literary pursuits, or even someone with a nice body, will tell you that you need to find some way to integrate these interests (working out, writing more, etc) into your everyday life so you can work toward being consistent in reaching that goal. Jealousy helps you recognize where you need to keep yourself accountable or be more accepting.
  6. A clean space helps declutter your mind.
    • For the past year or so, I have been on the journey of becoming more minimalist, intentional and ecologically conscious with my purchases and lifestyle. One of the first places I started to declutter, especially in Berkeley, was my room. Having a clean space for me to do my work, to sleep and to relax helped me focus more on what needed my attention. Rather than stress cleaning, I found living with less stuff leading to less mess. Decluttering my room helped declutter my mind and the mess that goes on inside of it.
  7. Podcasts are such a wonderful creation.
    • I tried audiobooks at one point and though I did enjoy listening on the way to class or while commuting, I found podcasts so much more fulfilling. Not only did I find people to support in their life coaching and self improvement business, but I found information that was useful to me (which also brings up great conversation starters!)
  8. Get your checkups if possible.
    • I know it can cost money, and I know that not everyone has access to transportation for health costs, a consistent healthcare provider, or the money for such appointments, but if possible, get checked up because your mental health can be deeply affected by your physical health. And all parts of you, physical and emotional, matter.
  9. Your growth is, and will always be, undeniably yours (assuming you don’t let someone else take it over).
    • The pace at which you grow should not be rushed, ever. Rushing it will make it in-genuine and ultimately, not your growth anymore. Growing at someone else’s rate has them dictating your life and taking away your control. Rather than lose that control, own up to your capabilities and just keep growing. Your growth may not be linear, nor will it be as quick as the person next to you, but it is yours. And it always will be.
  10. Pursuing a 4 year degree right after high school is completely conventional, and I am tired of the people who diss on those who took an unconventional route to get where they are today.
    • I’m conventional in the sense that I went straight to a 4 year university, but I am not conventional with my post grad plans. I am angry at the system that pressures students to make decisions about the rest of their lives when it’s obvious that not everyone is the same. I want those who find themselves different from the rest of the peers to not worry, to not care what others think, and to honestly just do you. Because you’ll be much happier in the end when you make decisions for yourself instead of for others.
  11. Experiences should measure as success over material possessions.
    • Call me an old soul, but I value human connection and the wonders of life much more than material items now. Yes, I want to explore the world and invest in experiences, so honestly, that’s where I feel my limited time should be going. Rather than working hard for a society that encourages us to consume and not be conscious of the supply chain process and the disposal process, I would rather work hard to travel, to support local and sustainable companies, and to support my family with basic necessities. Material possessions are nice, but as someone whose house has burned down and been broken into, the material possessions I lost mean less than the value and of my family’s life, my life, and the lives of my loved ones in general. I value the experience of overcoming adversity as success.
  12. Don’t let the past stop you from moving forward.
    • Everyone has something rough that has happened in the past. If you let those past mistakes stop you from moving forward, you’ll never grow into a better person. You’ll limit yourself from making more mistakes and failing. I say make mistakes, notice where they were made, and learn from it. And the rate at which you move forward will be so quick, you may not notice it right away. Once you realize how far you’ve gone and focus less on where you have to go, you’ll find more pride in your accomplishments and will focus less on the past.
  13. I am very privileged to be living in America, especially in California.
    • Many people who know me and where I’m from know that I never really thought highly of Vallejo, especially in comparison to other cities. However, I am so blessed to have been brought to America by my mother and to live in California. Having met so many like minded people, attending UC Berkeley, and studying abroad this past summer, I have realized that the world can be pretty cruel at times, and I’m so thankful to know people and spaces I can immerse myself in to feel supported during times I feel so broken.
  14. Travel with the mindset of being both intentional and touristy, not just one or the other.
    • I studied abroad on my own this past summer in Australia and even extended my time by visiting New Zealand as well. I enjoyed my stay in these countries by not only checking out the major touristy spots, but by also being intentional with my travels. I interacted with the locals, went to cultural events and festivals, and went out of my way to appreciate hole in the wall spots in the city. It made my experience more intimate and fulfilling, and with this, I want to tell my story and hopefully encourage people to do the same the next time they travel.
  15. Journaling is such a powerful tool.
    • Writing down what’s going on in your mind can be quite insightful. I kept different journals on me during my time in school, and I find it inspiring to read my past entries and see my growth. Journaling can help you understand things you’ve never thought of before, whether it reveals your passions, values, or beliefs. It can even be a source of healing for those who find it difficult to express themselves verbally.
  16. It’s never too late to be yourself.
    • We’re always trying to impress other people by trying to be someone we’re not. You may dig yourself into a deep hole, embodying a certain persona that people will think it’s you all the time, but you are still free to act like yourself. It may take some work to persuade others on who you truly are, but if they really care and are willing to understand and listen to you, they’ll see it for themselves rather than you pushing it onto them. Just please, do not lose yourself when trying to impress others. Impress yourself with your growth, with your positive attributes, and the friendships and relationships will follow organically.
  17. Being able to communicate with others, in any way possible, is a blessing and a critical skill to have.
    • Whether your way of communicating is by knowing a different language or being able to communicate effectively with both emotions and logic in mind, communication is a skill that helps bridge people together. It allows barriers between communities to break down and allow a higher level of compassionate connection. My internship taught me a lot about the important of literacy, creativity and communication, which has made me realize how it can apply in our everyday lives.
  18. Respect the planet, because this is our only one.
    • We all start out pretty wasteful, especially when we focus on being consumers and at times, impulsive spenders. However, there comes a point when you realize the amount of damage you’re bringing to the planet, how the amount of resources we consume outpaces the rate at which resources are replenished. Consider climate change and its detrimental effects to this generation, as well as future generations. Do something now to change how you treat the planet and what type of consumer you want to be. Give back to the planet; after all, it provides you with the resources to live this life you should be grateful to have.
  19. Cook more, eat out less.
    • When I first moved into my own apartment in Berkeley, I spent over $200 in the first month by eating out. Even while eating out, the meals were not that satisfying beyond the time I chose to eat. When cooking at home, I was able to meal prep and have enough food to last me a few days, all while saving massive amounts of money in the process. Cooking is also a good skill to practice, as it can be helpful for your future once you do move out on your own and even begin a family. For me, I feel even more inclined to cook when I have produce in the my kitchen. Food banks and farmer’s markets are your friends and resources; use them when/if possible.
  20. Stop spending time with people who continuously bring you down.
    • This is mostly in terms of toxic people. I have a pretty solid set of friends, people who I feel will stick by me forever. Leaving high school, I hoped for the best and thought optimistically as my friendships at the time were ones I was willing to work through hardship with. However, there comes a point that if only one party is working to fix a damaged friendship, you’ll be hurting more than necessary. Communication and empathy are important skills to utilize during times like this, but if you have done everything humanly possible to try and fix things, and nothing changes, it isn’t your fault. Overexerting yourself and still getting backlash isn’t fair, and those are the people who aren’t worth your time, especially in a life where your time is limited.
  21. Always aim to be the bigger person.
    • Being petty or wanting to get revenge toward someone can only get you so far. What you want is to make someone else suffer just for the sake of you feeling better, and yes, temporarily it can have that effect, but in the long run, there truly is no need to stoop down to the level of someone who has hurt you. It won’t make you feel better, even though that’s what you originally wanted. If you want respect, act like someone who deserves the respect. Acting petty or childish is so below what you’re capable of presenting to others, so be the bigger person, display maturity and set the example. Be the best version of you and in turn, those who want to change will look to you as inspiration.
    • In other words, don’t care what others think, especially when they try to bring you down. You’re so much better than that, and you’ll be a lot happier when you don’t hold onto petty feelings or rely on petty responses to drive a conversation.
  22. Family means everything to me.
    • When it comes to being loved and supported unconditionally, your family will always be there for you. Even when I feel like I don’t have the best relationship with my family, I know that deep down, they want the best for me. I may not understand it now, as a young adult, but as I get closer to having a family of my own, I’m beginning to realize the importance of family, my culture, and what it means to love and support like my family does for me.

6 thoughts on “22 Things I Learned by 22

  1. What a great post. Some of these I really struggle with to remember. But each day I try to grow a little bit more not just for me but for my family. Beautifully written I would love to see a 25th birthday post like this from you. Keep growing you’re doing amazing.

    1. Aww, Jenn I really love that mentality of yours — growing for not only yourself, but for your family. I will most likely do another one for my 25th and keep going every 5 years from there πŸ™‚

  2. This is such an authentic and heartfelt post! I totally agree with what you said about how you can disagree with people and no one person has to be right/wrong.
    El xx

    1. Hello Elen! I appreciate you seeing my post for its authenticity and heartfelt nature. It truly is important to learn how to be able to “agree to disagree” as some people call it. Thanks for reading!

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