I’m turning 28 today. Even though I’ve been an adult for the last 10 years and changed a lot, I still feel like a child’s mind trapped in an adult body. I get excited about simple things like a 5-year-old. Not that I’m in denial, on the contrary. I am actually very pleased to have had so many awakening experiences by the age of 28 and having preserved my childlike ingenuity. If the time machine existed, I would never want to get back to my teens.
I’ve made this list hoping that those of you who are younger than I am or my peers will be able to relate and learn from my mistakes. I really wish I knew these things when I hit adulthood… Growing up as an INFP would have been easier for me if I did.
- There is no shame in being sensitive and vulnerability is not a weakness. Emotions make us human, and it is wonderful to feel. Showing your emotions to the world requires courage. You can’t choose to numb only the unpleasant emotions. You will find more about vulnerability in this post: In Praise of Vulnerability: 3 Reasons Why Daring Greatly Makes Life Worth Living.
- Better done than perfect. Go for the 80%, which is good enough for most cases. The remaining 20% is not worth getting obsessed about. Until recently, I wasn’t aware that perfectionism is a pretty bad weakness that makes our lives miserable. I am still working on letting go of my perfectionistic tendencies, and improving a lot.
- Everyone is a protagonist of their own story. When I was a teenager, I was very self-conscious and had the illusion that everybody was staring at me and judging me. You know what I learned over time? People are generally self-centered and busy living their lives. There is no need do obsess about what they think about you because, most of the time, you go unnoticed.
- Being yourself doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t work on improving yourself.
- It’s okay to be different. Embracing the real you and not pretending to be someone else gives an enormous relief.
- Choose the career you’re passionate about. Not the one that seems most lucrative. If something doesn’t make you happy, you’re unlikely to succeed anyway. Becoming a mediocre economist or lawyer is a terrible waste of your potential.
- Quitting is not a failure. Learning when to quit is necessary to succeed. Some things are just not worth the struggle. I’ve written about how I learned to quit in this post: Mastering The Art Of Letting Go, Or A Story Of How I Got Bogged Down.
- Be grateful for what you already have and stop focusing on what you wish you had. This simple mindset shift will make your life much more enjoyable the way it is.
- Don’t bother with things that are beyond your control. You can’t change the wind, but you can always adjust the sails.
- Regret is completely useless. You took the best possible action or decision that you could in the given moment, using all the information that was available to you. If you knew then what you know now, maybe you would have done things differently. Learn the lesson, forgive yourself for your mistakes and move on.
- When one door closes, another opens. So even if things don’t work out exactly the way you planned, it may mean that the Universe may have for you a better option. Be flexible and remain open to new opportunities.
- Don’t wait forever to make your dreams come true. There is no such day as “Someday”. Start slowly working towards your goals, one step at a time.
- Speaking about time… It’s a precious and limited resource. You never know when yours will end. Don’t sell it cheap and make every day of your life count.
- There is no such thing as stability in life. Only changes are certain. While you can’t stop them, you can learn to accept uncertainty and develop a change resilience. This will allow you to make the most of the good ones and remain unaffected by the bad ones.
- Cut off negative, closed-minded and toxic people in your life and spend more time with those who inspire you and make you grow.
- People matter. I used to think that I could perfectly do everything on my own, that I didn’t need them, but deep down in my heart, I felt so lonely that no one could fill that vacuum. We are hardwired for connection with others. Reach out to those you care about and make sure they know how important thy are for you. Spend lots of quality time together. You never know how much time they have left.
- It’s impossible to please everyone, so stop fighting for people’s approval.
- Deeds, not words. As a young INFP, I thought people were good and they always said what they meant, with no hidden intentions. It took me years to discover that people who manipulate and abuse others to achieve their goals actually exist (and thrive). I strongly believe they’re a small minority of world’s population, but they can pretty much mess up your entire life if you let them come too close.
- Money isn’t everything. While we all need it to pay the bills and cater for our basic needs, the best things in life will always be free of charge. And it’s definitely not worth selling your soul because getting burned out and depressed is much easier than it seems. It is actually possible not to choose between your money or your life and have enough. How? Read Your Money Or Your Life: Can Money Really Buy Happiness?
- You value has nothing to do with your achievements. You don’t have to be perfect, and get all A’s, and be the best at everything you do, and meet everyone’s expectations to be worthy of love because you already are enough. Always.
- Once again, you don’t have to be perfect, self-sufficient and know everything. Showing others your imperfections or asking for help or advice makes you more likable!
- Practice meditation. Just fifteen minutes a day of mindful sitting and breathing will gradually improve your life.
- You have but one body. Love it. Take a good care of it. Provide it with nutritious food, exercise, and rest, expose it to sunlight and take it to a doctor when it’s failing.
- You are not responsible for other people’s feelings, especially if you didn’t mean to hurt them. Their feelings are a by-product of their interpretation of your behavior and the gap between their expectations and the reality.
- Facts are neutral. It is your depressing thoughts and negative attitude that make you upset, not the situation itself. See “It’s Only In Your Head”: Depressing Thoughts & How To Tame Them.
- Productivity is less important that you think. Those brief moments of dolce far niente, when you don’t have to hurry, which when I was younger seemed like a waste of time, are priceless. So indulge yourself with stillness once in a while for the sake of your mental health. And surprisingly, slowing down and doing one thing at a time actually improves your performance.
- Being an introvert doesn’t mean that we hate people. We just need our time alone to recharge after human interaction, that’s all, and we prefer to connect with fewer, but at a much deeper level.
- Your parents are human, too. They have feelings and they’re not trying to ruin your life. They did their best as parents, they made mistakes and so will you. They may not understand, but they want for you what’s best (in their opinion).
What have you learned in your adult life that you wish you knew in your teens? Feel free to share your thoughts below.