Here’s 22 things I’ve picked up in the 22 years it’s taken for me to get here:
1) Follow your head over your heart. Remember that the world is subjected by your prejudices, your perception, your upbringing and your genes. Feelings can often mislead you or cloud your judgement but ruthless logic will take you a long way in figuring out things for yourself.
2) Have cake, not faith. The world will tell you to have faith, not in something concrete or believable that exists before your eyes, but in something you have no way of proving as right or wrong but should follow blindly, just because you’re told to do so. Well don’t! Eat some cake instead.
3) Love shouldn’t be about being heady and letting the world get the best of you. Love is a dangerous game and if you aren’t a player, step off the field. Let the athletes do their thing, be a spectator until you’re sure the plunge is worth it. Don’t let the overrated stories from movies, shows and books swoon you into believing violins will play and lightening will strike when love happens. Love is beautiful but it’s not a continuous, unbroken river. It’s a decision you make every day, it’s an anchor you cast every morning.
4) Most people leave, but most lessons stay. You’re going to interact with a multitude of people in your lifetime and only a handful of them will want you around forever. Some will let you go, others you will let go but whatever lessons they teach you will linger within you forever. These lessons might make you bitter, they might make you resentful and hurt and angry and unlovable and untouchable but at the end of the day, they are all you’ll have. So pick wisely through the traits you want to keep.
5) Love thy parents. Your parents are human beings and as you grow older, you’ll see they aren’t Superman. They have weaknesses too. But the bottom line remains that they gave you everything they could, just for you to have a decent shot at life. They’re never going to want to see you fall. And so you need to remember that as you rush through, they’re right behind you too. Once in a while at least, let them see how much you appreciate them.
6) Be a cloud, not a rock. Float around and dream, don’t stand still and let the pain get the best of you. If there’s something or someone worth fighting for, do it. If there’s something you can change, you should. If there’s somewhere you need to be, take a couple of days off and just go.
7) Don’t think, just do it. There’s always going to be stuff that you’ll just have to do. No ifs and buts, you have to stand in queues, fill forms, commute, shop and pay the bills. Don’t think too much and complicate the things that ought to be easy.
8) You don’t have to be an open book, but you needn’t shut yourself off either. There’s nothing worse than shutting yourself off to everything and everyone. Ask me, I know. People can be hurtful, they can be unbearable and insensitive but for every ten such people you’ll meet, there’ll be that one person with something good to offer you. It could be as simple as someone suggesting a band which could go on to be your new favourite. Whatever it is, people are full of good stuff and the more you let yourself see them, the more of an expert you’ll become at finding the things that you can adopt. And from then on, it’s just smooth going.
9) Do the risky things only with the people you trust. If you’re going to bend the rules a little, make sure you choose your company wisely. It could make all the difference between what makes or breaks you. Everyone will tell you it’s okay, even helpful to shake things up a bit once in a while. Reckless abandon isn’t what you’re aiming for but a few calculated risks may be worth your while. But if you’re with the wrong people, snap! That could be you dangling from a branch that’s about to break off a cliff. Cling to trees with stronger roots.
10) When your life is dark, seek help. Sometimes things become so blue, you might not want to move. Or you might resort to the kind of things that could ultimately destroy you. But before you take a step that you know is harmful for you but you still want to go ahead and take it because you feel that it’s better to hurt the whole wide world by hurting yourself, talk to someone. Seek out a friend or a sibling or a parent. And crazy though this may sound, go see a shrink. It’s not wrong to visit one. You know how you go to a doctor to fix parts of your body? Well your brain is the most complicated organ of your body and if need to see a doctor to help you fix it, go right ahead!
11) Don’t shed people like you shed clothes. Many people are going to get drawn away from you eventually- some due to circumstances, others due to mistakes or misunderstandings. But just remember how everyone’s life is just as hard as your own. It’s not good to hurt for no reason. Send happiness out into the universe instead of pain.
12) Know some history and don’t glorify violence. The history textbooks you read in school may have felt like a waste of time, but here’s a secret of the world: the more you understand history and the way things work, the better you become at being a tolerant and peace-loving human being. History isn’t about memorizing a bunch of dates but about knowing why and how certain people have acted in certain ways through the centuries. What has driven them, what has made them pick a fight or abandon and flee? The more you know, the better you’ll see how sad violence is and how dumb it is to glorify it in any form in your day-to-day lives.
13) Seize the things you need to seize. All good things come to those who wait? This might not be as true as you think it is.Waiting doesn’t always mean something good will come along. You need to be prudent and not complacent in making your life decisions. You need to seize certain opportunities and hope for the best.
14) If you love something let it go…If you hold too tight, you’ll strangle them. You’re afraid they will abandon you if you loosen the leash but the truth is, if they want to abandon you, they’ll simply gnaw through it. It’ll just be harder for both of you in that case, but they will be gone anyway. If you give them the space they need to blossom, they are more likely to realize your importance and stay by your side.
15) Don’t compromise with your integrity and your ethics. Nothing can be worse than being left without your value system intact. It can make you hollow and dead from the inside. Don’t compromise with the things that make you human.
16) Your naked body should only belong to those who fall in love with your naked soul. Pay heed to this quote of Charlie Chaplin’s. Don’t let your love be defined by the physical acts you indulge in; rather, let the physical acts be defined by the love you radiate.
17) Keep Hope. Remember the stories the world has to offer about people who stayed hopeful and stayed strong even when the world rained fire and brimstone on them. Follow by example and save a sliver of silver lining for yourself through every dark cloud that you face.
18) Save childhood memorabilia and keep a fond place in your heart for innocence. Life will toughen you up and corrode away your softness but no matter what, never lose touch with the child inside you. The innocence you see in the children around you should remind you of all the good things in the world. The memories you save from your own childhood will open doors of nostalgia that might sweep through you but at times it may be all you have and all you need to stay sane.
19) Be good to those who are good to you. You may be horrible to a lot of people; some unknowingly and others on purpose, but if someone does you a good deed, be sure to pay them back in kind. Even if it’s not in your power to give them something in return, at least don’t ever put yourself in a position where you might end up doing them a bad turn.
20) Find something awesome that defines you and give something back to the universe. As a writer, a painter, an athlete, a dancer, a poet, a quizzer, an orator or a million other things, find something you love. It doesn’t have to be your career and it doesn’t have to be your entire life, but find something that you think is awesome and take time out to do it. It feels like you’re putting something out into the universe when you let yourself fall into a task your body and soul loves until you forget how long you’ve been at it.
21) Listen to music! There’s something for everyone when it comes to music. Find your voice because the right kind of music let’s you be in touch with your soul and it let’s you feel infinite in a way nothing else can. In fact, the right kind of music can open the floodgates to your emotions and sometimes, that’s all you need.
22) It’s okay to cry sometimes. Crying isn’t about being weak; it’s about looking for new ways to be strong. It’s okay to let yourself go with the flow when you’re really upset and you’ll be surprised at how good you’ll feel when you’re done.