Top Ten Lessons I’ve Learned in My Twenty Years of Life

Over the course of my very eventful two decades of life, I feel as if I’ve accumulated a lot of knowledge. Am I probably full of sh*t? Yes. Do I care? No. I want to bestow upon you readers a list of the best tidbits I’ve picked up along my journey. Everyone has their own set of life lessons, but I figured sharing mine may help others re-evaluate their own points of view. I would apologize for how philosophical and poetic this is going to get, but that’s who I am, so get used to it. 

10. Everything has a place. 

I mean this literally and metaphorically. My father always used to lecture me whenever I’d misplace important items and remind me that if everything had a place, I wouldn’t lose them. My keys would always be found quickly if I had a hook to hang them on. However, in life all things have a place too, even you. Fill your life with the things that matter to you, the people who look out for you and anything you feel will help you open your mind. You will find your place in the world if you focus on yourself and your needs. Good things come in time, with hard work and perseverance. 

9. Take in the earth and your surroundings.

I tend to get lost in my own thoughts fairly often. A great grounding technique for an anxious person like myself, I have found, is to make yourself spatially aware and absorb the world around you. When I was little, my father used to take me on walks around the neighborhood and he’d walk painfully slowly, and whenever I’d try to rush him, he’d remind me to stop and smell the roses. He’d sing to the birds, he’d stare at the clouds and he’d help me realize there is so much beauty in all the simple things of life. This seeped into me, and I began stopping to take in the earth whenever I could. Stop and look up at the snow as it’s falling, listen to the sounds of the world around you, no matter how trivial it may seem. 

8. Follow your heart.

This one is fairly cheesy, but holds a lot of weight. Dedicate yourself to the things you love and want to do. Don’t waste your own time trying to appease others at your own expense. Listen to yourself and your thoughts when you’re alone, because that’s when you’re most yourself. Be honest with who you are and don’t let others tell you who you are. By listening to that voice, however loud or quiet it may be, you’ll find your own happiness.

7. Try not to care what others think.

This one is so difficult, believe me. However, staying true to yourself is monumentally important for your mental well-being. Being a misfit or an outsider can be incredibly lonely, and I think we’ve all felt that way at one time or another and it’s made us want to change parts of ourselves. You must embrace everything that makes you who you are no matter what other people say or think about it. I say try, because these things get to us, but remind yourself how f*cking cool you are for all your weird quirks and it helps push through those moments. 

6. Be careful who you trust. 

My father also instilled this lesson into me, perhaps not in the best way but nonetheless it’s a good one. Relying on people has always been a struggle for me, but finding the right people to depend on is pivotal for growth. Work on becoming a good judge of character by listening and paying attention to how people treat you and others. Only trust those who are consistent, reliable and down for you when you need them most. 

5. Watch your words.

Be careful about what you do and don’t say. I try to choose all my words very carefully, and I only say exactly what I mean. Sometimes, this makes me blunt but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Don’t tiptoe around what you want or what you feel; say it with confidence. Don’t say what you think others want to hear. Being blunt and being mean are entirely separate things, so be upfront and forward about how you feel and your needs, and it helps make life a lot simpler. 

4. No means no.

Learning to say no is hard enough, and that’s a whole other lesson in itself, but a more important one is that once you say no, you have to stick to it. Putting yourself in a position where you go against your own words and wishes only leads to inner turmoil and stress. Stick to what you say and you’ll feel better about your decisions. Others should respect the things you say and not push you to change your mind once it’s been made up.

3. Good (and bad) people don’t exist.

This is a weird one, but I firmly believe people aren’t good or bad. I think we are made up of lots of different parts and we conduct ourselves in certain ways, and our decisions can have moral weight but they don’t define us. Sometimes we act “good” and other times we act “bad,” but those instances or times where we aren’t at our best don’t make us who we are as a whole. The parts of us don’t sum up our whole being. 

2. Don’t explain yourself.

Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind. I have dedicated an unfortunate amount of time to explaining my actions, my thoughts and my feelings to those who don’t care for them either way. Everything you do, at one point, was exactly what you wanted or felt you needed at that moment. There is no point in trying to explain yourself to others when they don’t make an effort to see from your perspective. Constantly explaining yourself, in my experience, only leads to guilt and frustration. So continue to act based on your well-being, and the well-being of others, and explanations won’t be necessary. Anyone who demands them or tries to minimize your needs isn’t worth the time. 

1. No Rush.

This is the best lesson I’ve ever learned. As an anxious person, I have a habit of getting overwhelmed by busyness very quickly. However, reminding myself that there is no rush to do anything, get anywhere or make things happen helps me remember that I am here, in the present and I need to focus on what’s in front of me. The only place rushing will get us to is the grave. Speeding up your life trying to get to your destination will only prevent you from enjoying the now. If you’re running late, relax and breathe. If you’re nervous or worried, try and ground yourself.

Madalyn Alfonso
About Madalyn Alfonso 85 Articles
Madalyn Alfonso is a fourth-year English major with a minor in Theatre. This is her sixth semester on The Oracle. Previously, she was the Arts & Entertainment Editor. She loves writing any and every thing she can for the Oracle, whether it be a hilarious Top Ten or a thought-provoking Culture Critique. She hopes you all love reading the Oracle!