Being in my 20s
Being in my 20s can be stressful at times. Sometimes, I can’t help but feel that I am running against a ticking clock. There are just so many things I feel that I have to achieve and complete before I turn 30. For example, I need to start investing in the right stocks in my early twenties and “set myself up for a secure financial future”. I need to start thinking and working on my business idea, if I want to be a business owner. I need to train hard and run regularly so that I can run a personal best in a marathon race (apparently the prime age for marathon running is 27 years old). I need to start making plans about how I want to make my “travel the world on a bag-pack” a reality. As you can imagine, the list goes on.
In my mind, at my current age, I am supposed to be at the prime of my health. I am free of commitments and have no dependents. I have accumulated some savings and therefore have some earning power to try out or purchase things I previously don’t have the financial capability to. Therefore, it is the “most optimal” period for me to explore new things and try to make my dreams a reality.
However, as an ambitious person, sometimes having so many “dreams” and goals can get overwhelming. Therefore, I am still trying to figure out how to keep everything in balance and not stress myself out. I am not able to offer the best advice to anyone who finds themselves sharing the same thoughts as me. However, I have been doing some thinking recently and below are some of the things I have concluded that I will try to do.
Prioritise making myself the best version that I can be
I don’t need to be liked by everyone. However, at the very least, I need to be liked by myself. If I find that I don’t like something about myself, for example my hair, then, I should take the steps to “correct” it and like myself (or just convince myself that my hair is fine).
Recently, I decided that I am going to invest in my own appearance and learn to like myself more. By liking myself more, I will have higher self-confidence and this is the best makeup I can wear on my face. Consequently, I will then be able to attract positive like-minded people and be happy.
Even if I get “rejected” by others or am criticised by others, with self-love, I will be able to turn a deaf ear to them and continue to smile at my “haters”. Channeling all my attention to making myself the best version I can be does helps me to tune out negative thoughts and emotions. It gives me a renewed sense of purpose and goal in life.
Don’t compare myself with others. As long as I have a clear vision and plan of what I want to do, others don’t matter.
In this world, we are always bombarded by news of talented youngsters achieving great feats and successes. At times, I may feel that my own successes pale in comparison.
However, after I think about it, should I really care about other people’s successes? Their success is theirs. Good for them, end of story. As long as I know that I have tried my best, any of my successes are just as worthy.
Similarly, I should not be afraid of trying something new, just because doing something may put me at risk of “falling behind” in the rat race and “losing to others”. As long as I put the effort to think about how I want to mitigate those “risks” and plan properly, I will be fine.
For example, one of my dreams is to take 1 year off to travel the world on a bag-pack, before I turn 30. Sometimes I wonder whether I will really do it. I do have concerns such as, whether I am able to forgo 1 year of paid income, whether I will be employable after taking such a long break from work. However, I have achieved some conclusion on this. I think that as long as I do some planning in advanced, these are not really big problems. For example, If i really want to, I could consider being a part-time Karat Interviewer while I travel. This means that I am still “in touch” with coding and when I want to apply to a new job, I still have some Leetcode practice. I could also be a freelance programmer or work on my side projects. Similarly, I can think of ways of how I can generate passive income. Perhaps I could try my hand at publishing Youtube videos of my travel? Perhaps I could start a blog and earn an income from advertisements? Perhaps I could take really nice photos and publish a travel book after my travels? If I am able to do just one of these, all of my previous concerns about “losing in the rat race” will be rendered unnecessary.
Take actions. Start by documenting my thoughts and writing how I plan to achieve them.
If I have dreams, I should take them seriously and go all out to pursue them. This is because, I only have One Life.
How do I go about pursuing them? Daydreaming is easier than actually putting in the effort to executing steps to make my dreams a reality. I read somewhere that writing down my goals does help in reinforcing the idea in my mind and encourages me to think about it often enough that I will take steps to execute it.
Therefore, I like to write down my goals and plans in a Microsoft Excel sheet. This helps to give me some sense of direction and whenever I feel lost, I will go back to looking at what I have written. Similarly, whenever I feel inspired or a new idea comes to my mind, I will quickly jot them down in the spreadsheet. I think that writing down my goals and how I want to achieve them has been very helpful in making me take actions.
For example, at the start of this year I was inspired to take charge of my finance knowledge and start investing in Stocks. Writing down my plans and recording my actions (for eg, what stocks I am currently eyeing or have purchased at what price), helps guide me and “forced” me to take an active involvement in turning my inspiration into real actions.
Build a career moat for myself. Work hard to build my skills and become a subject matter expert.
Learning does not stop after I graduate. Continue to up-skill and keep myself relevant to the ever fast paced world.
Work hard and practise being good at what I do. For example, as a Software engineer, I should always invest in the time to picking up new skills and learning the latest technology. This way, only when I am valuable, can I start to enjoy leverage and control in how I want to spend my time.
In the year of 2022, I have attended 2 weddings of people who are just 2 years older than me. I know that it’s easy for any young person to feel pressured by society or their family to settle down and lead a “stable” life.
However, I will always advise myself not to rush. We all have our own timelines. We do things our way and at our own pace. There is no point in rushing everything and then having to suffer the consequences of having to pick up the mess later on (like, divorcing the wrong person you married when you were in your early 20s).
Similarly, seeing others striking rich or becoming a billionaire at 21 may make me feel FOMO and panicky. However, I should always remind myself that my current task is to “lead the best life I can” everyday. I don’t need to rush and my number 1 priority is to live well, do my best everyday to be the best version of myself.
The end :)
Well, these are some of the thoughts I constantly tell myself so that I don’t become too stressed in wanting to achieve so many things in my 20s. I still have my 30s and 40s or even 50s and the rest of my life to achieve my dreams. I don’t need to rush to complete them in these short 10 years, while I am in my 20s. I should take time to enjoy my youth and relax instead of always fretting about unfulfilled dreams.
Even if I fail to achieve some dreams, as long as I know that I never gave up, I will be contented. And who knows? Maybe in the process, I will figure out another thing that I might want to pursue.