Living your best years, your 20s, in a conflict zone is not very much what I dreamed of when I was 18. At least, I didn’t dream to live it this way.
Growing up in Syria I had very big ambitions and expectations for this period, specifically, given what I heard and saw in movies. However, it turns out to be way harder in real life. Honestly - I went through very bad times at the beginning of my 20s. I felt incapable of changing my reality, depression and loss of hope were the result. I had very big dreams with very little indicators that any of them will ever become reality. Not knowing what will come next and what I’m supposed to do are, in addition to the things mentioned above, all factors that formed the person who is now writing this blog post.
It is not easy to wake up and find yourself in a war zone you didn’t choose to be in, but still, you have to deal with all the consequences that come with it. Yet, it is not a shame to have moments where you feel that you must give up. Actually, it is not a shame at all to give up. But what's a shame is that you keep yourself in a box that others created for you and that it is not even your size.
Defying all odds, here are 12 things that I learned in my 20s.
1. Travel, travel, and travel – in groups but also solo
Traveling with friends and family sounds really appealing and interesting. But also try traveling alone. It will give you a different sense of life, teach you about yourself more than anything in the world would and expand the horizons of your mind in so many ways. Simply, it is a journey of exploring yourself, not just the world.
2. Invest in your haters as much as you do in your friends
When you start your 20s you’re a young and inexperienced, yet ambitious person. It is your responsibility to develop that image into one that you deserve. And just when you start setting your goals, you will meet many people who will try to make you feel small and label you. For example, I was always the short and skinny girl in the room. Listen to what they say for only one reason: to know how many people you must get back to when you reach the peak of your achievement.
3. Gain a new perspective by learning new languages
Studies have shown that being bilingual, trilingual or multilingual has tremendous effects on your personality. It will not only make a nice line in your CV, but it will also improve your charisma. This is what we call - the power of a new language.
4. Treasure the time you spend with your family
Your family is the best personal and emotional investment you would make in your 20s. Here, I mean your parents. Before you hit 20, they spend most of their time looking after your health and what makes you a better person. After your 30s, you won’t have the same amount of time for them because you might be investing it in your little ones. So the 20s seem to be the perfect time for your parents.
5. Adapt to changes and use them to improve your resilience
But what is resilience? In fact, resilience is your ability to cope with stress and hardships. Have you ever thought that everything exists for a reason? Well, so do changes and downturns. Consider the blocks you face as only new phases in the game of life. Remember how you enjoyed your favorite video game every time it used to get harder? It is exactly the same. The more it gets complicated, the more you will enjoy success later.
6. Don’t rush into marriage
I’m not here to convince you not to get married. But I’m just telling you that there is plenty of good stuff to see, live and go through before you are a part of 2. If you don’t know your favorite stuff and don’t learn how to love yourself and discover new experiences then you will never be able to have the romantic life you have always dreamed of. One more piece information you might want to know: in Taiwan no one gets married before they hit 35. So it is never too late to find a perfect match.
7. Donate time – volunteer
Young people in their early 20s are energy balls. We have potential, we learn super fast, we innovate solutions and we get things done with a touch of excellence. Yet, no one wants to hire you, mostly for the same reasons. Therefore, if are looking for an alternative to grow your skills, volunteering sounds is a good option. It also comes with other nice benefits, such as expanding your professional and personal network, learning new things, polishing your leadership personality and improving communication and public relation skills.
8. Meet new people, talk to new minds
Meeting new people is not very challenging. The challenge remains in talking to the new minds you meet. Forming new social circles is surprisingly beneficial down the road to your adulthood.
9. Keep looking for your passion and nourish it
Your passion is what keeps you awake on a cold night in front of your laptop screen even if you have a very bad flu. It is definitely worth looking for. However, don’t make a big deal if you don’t find it immediately. It might be hiding somewhere you never looked before. Give it some time and try as many new things as the table offers you. Your passion is the base of your innovation.
10. Read and never stop learning
No matter how much you think you are good at life, there will always be something extra to learn from a new book. Books offer free-of-charge life lessons, some of which are expensive. Reading will give you that on a golden plate for a very low price. It will also improve your comprehension skills which will lead to better planning and accomplishments. Trust me, the more you read, the better of a person you become.
11. Value the time you spend alone
Spending time alone doesn’t necessary mean you are a lonely person. It simply means that you are smart enough to sit with yourself, and reflect on your experiences. Those who reflect more learn more and improve more. There is no one who is worth your time more than yourself.
12. Share your failures
Who said you must make be hugely successful at your first attempt? “I learned from my failures and here is my story,” said all of the most successful and inspiring people in history.
These are the lessons that I learned from my first 3 years of my 20s. Even though the life of a young person in Syria is not the same as the life of a young person who lives in better conditions, the above lessons seem to work for anyone who is aspiring an exciting journey. Got anything to add?