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26 Things About Life I Wish I Had Known When I Was 20 Years Old

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Editor's note: This post is a part of #BHL, a campaign by BBC Media Action and Youth Ki Awaaz to redefine and own the label of what a 'bigda hua ladka or ladki' really is. If you believe in making your own choices and smashing this stereotype, share your story.

Ludwig, the German-American architect famously said, “Less is more.”

We are always running behind something. In the past 10 years of my life, I’ve slowly started to comprehend the fact that less is more, and this eventually became a fundamental value for whatever I do.

1. Ask Questions

Don’t follow anything blindly. By asking questions you’ll learn things at a whole new pace.

2. Be Grateful

Make this a part of your daily habits. Just like you eat, sleep, wake up and shower – be grateful and then start your day. By being grateful not only do you become humble but also get a chance to step back and appreciate what you have.

3. Create something every day

Make something every day. Click a picture, write something in your notebook or post on a blog. Work on a sculpture, work on a painting, but create something. The point of creating something every day is that it indirectly makes you learn something.

4. Don’t Care About What People Think

Don’t get stuck on the idea of what someone else may think about you. If you do that, you’ll get into a vicious circle of thinking too much before doing anything and that will slow you down. So don’t think too much about what people will think. Just go ahead and do what your heart says.

5. Ego Is The Enemy

The minute you think you are special is when you start digging your own grave. In order to pursue a valuable goal in your life, you have to put in hard work and there will always be a fight between you and your ego. Because your ego is your biggest enemy. I specifically learned this from Ryan Holiday’s book, “Ego is the enemy”.

6. Fail Often

If you have an idea that you want to execute, you’ll have to get your hands dirty. You’ll have to try doing it. In the process, you’ll fail. You’ll fail many times and that’s when it will become difficult. But, if it’s something you really believe in, you’ll try again. You’ll probably fail again till the time you can’t fail anymore.

7. Goal Setting

In past 10 years, what I have learned is that without a goal you can easily drift from the right course. There can be a long-term goal and then you can divide that long-term goal into shorter goals so that it is trackable. That way you’ll stay on the right track and would eventually reach your goal.

8. Hard Work Is Not Always The Answer

If you work towards something blindly without looking at it from a larger perspective, you might end up moving around in circles and never reach there. So you have to work smart along with working hard.

9. Instant Gratification Is Never Good

If you have a long-term goal of writing a book, but instead, you just write a small article on which you get instant feedback – it always feels good. But it will take you away from your long-term goal of writing a book because you’ll never be able to devote the time needed for the book. So don’t trade your long-term goals with instant gratification.

10. Jot Down What You Listen To

If you are in a meeting or having a deep conversation, you should always have a notebook or your phone ready at hand so that you can jot down points to look at later. We may understand what is being said in the moment, but may forget about it later. So, it’s always good to note things down.

11. Keep Up With People You Care About

Spend more time with your loved ones because eventually, they’ll be the ones who will be there for you. Others are just guests in your life. Family and close friends are the ones who’ll be there in your hard times as well.

12. Lead The Way

If you are presented with a difficult situation that nobody has much of an idea about, but you feel confident about it, then lead the way. Take it, own it and finish it. Don’t shy away from the situation.

13. Minimal Lifestyle

A minimal lifestyle is something I believe in, firmly. Don’t crowd your home with things you’ll never use. Take up a challenge and assess everything you see in your house. If it gives you joy and happiness, keep it. Otherwise, let it go. Donate it or put it in the bin. You’ll see how uncluttered your life becomes. Minimalism is not just about having fewer things in your house. The whole point of minimalism is to unclutter your life and mind, physically and emotionally as well.

14. Network

Connecting with the right set of people is crucial to your growth. So, learn how to network and be good at it. But don’t fake the relationships you make. When the time comes, this network will help you.

15. Obstacles Are A Part Of The Journey

You’ll face obstacles every now and then. And as you reach towards the goal, the intensity of these obstacles will increase. But you need to understand that only by facing these problems will you become better and eventually earn the goal you set your mind to.

16. Practice Mindfulness

Start living in the present moment by practising mindfulness. Set some time aside (whatever you can every day) to do nothing. Just sit back and focus on your breathing. Start listening to your body and feel your surroundings. Some people do it through meditation while others do it through exercise. Whatever way you choose to do it, practice mindfulness every day.

17. Quitting Is Not Losing

I learned this one the hard way. When we’re pursuing something we are passionate about, we tend to isolate ourselves from reality. Quitting means you are just freeing yourself from something which is not relevant anymore. You can use your energy into something else.

18. Run Every Day

I was introduced to running five years ago and soon became serious about it. If you want to do more, you need to have a healthy body because a healthy mind lives in a healthy body.

19. Step Back And Observe When You Don’t See The Way

If you feel stuck, isolate yourself from that situation for a while and take a step back. You’ll surely be able to look at the situation from a whole new perspective and maybe, you’ll also be able to resolve it with a new solution.

20. Time Heals Everything

It’s true. Whether it’s a failed relationship or a business or even the passing of a loved one, time will give you strength to cope. You will have the memories forever but time will heal the pain.

21.  Uplift The Ones You Work With

When you are working with someone, be helpful and uplift them. Not only is this a selfless act but in process of it, you’ll learn so much too.

22. Value Addition

Make sure there is some value for someone in whatever you do. If you provide value, then people will respect you in whatever you do.

23. Wait For The Right Moment

Be patient. Put in the work and wait for the right moment. When you do that, the universe somehow opens unusual ways to let you reach where you want to be. But remember, you have to put in the work, visualise it and be patient.

24. Xerox The Values And Processes Of Someone You Get Inspired From

Whatever you aspire to do, chances are that someone has already done it before you. So start learning about those people and get inspiration from them.

25. You Are Your Biggest Competition

Of course, the world is competitive right now. But what I have learned over these years is that competition with others is good, but it’s not always healthy. But it’s important to remember that your biggest competitor is you. You need to benchmark yourself and then try to become better at it with each iteration.

26.  Zen Is The Key

The philosophical meaning of zen is ‘now’. If you live in the present moment you will become a better version of yourself. An attribute of zen is to become content with what you have. So when you train yourself to be in the moment and being content, you’ll leap forward towards a happier life.

There are many other learnings like this which have shaped me in the past 10 years. I thought of sharing these with you since some of you might be in your twenties, and would find these helpful. So I jotted down these 26 learnings from the past 10 years that I learned from various books, people and experiences in alphabetical order.

I wish I had known these 26 things when I was 20 years old but here they are for you.

Will you be a master of life if you applied these 26 things? No way. But you will definitely become a better person.

But just know that you know nothing. So always keep learning.


 This post is inspired by a piece from Darius Foroux and was first published here.

You must be to comment.
  1. apoorva sachdeva

    Good One :))

    1. Himanshu Sachdeva

      Thanks Apoorva!
      Glad you like it.

      Head over to my blog – http://www.himanshusachdeva.com for more such posts.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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