Hey, you are getting younger with age. Someone recently told me. I hope I am also getting wiser and better and kinder, I thought. It’s marvelous how experiences in life add to your wisdom. I wasn’t exactly very wise when I was 21, freshly graduated from my post graduate course in Mass communication. I had topped my batch with 92%. It mattered so much on the graduation day. It doesn’t anymore.

That’s because growing up, I realized how little grades mattered and how much your myriad experiences with people, places and hands-on practical situations count. Today, I am living the life that I have always dreamed of. The span of this dream life, however, could have been longer had I made just a few solid resolutions as a 21-year-old.  

These are the 6 things I would have liked to tell my younger self. 

#1.Spend money on travel more than dresses

Even if your job may not allow you to save a lot of money, save in order to travel. Looking good will be an important priority but you will outlive this soon. Neither you nor your crush will remember any of your most expensive dresses as you grow older. However, the same money if invested on taking short trips to unknown places in your own country would make you richer, smarter and wiser. Just by travelling a little away from your own state, interacting with nature and the people who live near nature would open a whole new world for you. Most of your travel schedule will go awry and you will learn to adapt to changing situations. The new people who you meet would make you appreciate what you have now. Sometimes they may challenge you, other times they may annoy you. But you will still learn a thing or two about humanity. You will learn to plan for future yet you will find meaning in your present.

I took a trip to Kathmandu with my brother when I was 29 and met some amazing people.

# 2. Focus on your spiritual and thought life

Guard your thought life, you already know that. But how? You should ask. Remember when you were 18, you took a decision. You accepted Christ as your personal saviour. That was a beginning not the end. You need to invest in your relationship with Christ in the same way as you like to hang out with your friends. You need to read His word, derive wisdom from scriptures. Those are not only timeless but offer practical and purer ways of living a fulfilling life. You need to talk to God, pray about your weaknesses and strengths. Ask His will and tell him your own. Ask for wisdom and the Holy Spirit to guard your thoughts especially the negative ones that often make you want to compare your life with others. Prayer would keep worry at bay and make you accountable for your own life. You will remember to forgive more readily because you know you have been forgiven first.

# 3. Be choosy about what you read and watch

Don’t fill your mind with trashy romance novels or romantic soap operas. Don’t dismiss Harry Potter before reading it. It’s a book full of wonderful and inspiring love stories. You will especially need it when you are alone, battling with life’s struggles. Challenge yourself beyond The Fountainhead and Gone with the wind. Try different genres. Don’t get into the comfort zone of ‘feel good’ novels. Get out of your preferred genre and see what the world can offer. Read and watch struggle stories. As for TV shows, there’s only one I would recommend you at this point – FRIENDS. Because no one would tell you life was gonna be this way.  The show offers more lessons in friendship, love and loss than any other book or show. You will need ‘The one with Rachel’s 30th birthday’ and ‘The one with Monica’s thunder’ and a lot more to understand that everything can be swallowed with a pinch of salt. Try abstract in anyway you can – be it in music, books, movies or art. Watch more documentaries on Discovery and National Geographic. It’s only when you dwell into all kinds of genre that you would discover your true inclination. Overall, pursue wisdom over information.

The iconic show that is important for anyone’s 20s

# 4. Unrequited loves make for great grandmother stories

While it’s natural and good for a young attractive woman like you to fall for people, don’t obsess too much over unrequited loves. It’s okay if the people you liked didn’t like you back. Stop keeping a list of your crushes and being sorry for wearing your heart on your sleeve. Be proud of your feelings if you felt them 100%. Every such romantic inclination says something about you. Try to learn the things that you admire in your crush. If he likes watching football, see if you enjoy it too. If he reads certain books, read them too. You might pick up a few skills along the way. When he chooses someone else over you, don’t feel too sad. He has his own choices and way of life, afterall. Learn to move on faster. There’s no time to waste your feelings over people who don’t feel the same. And you know what’s the bonus? All of your crushes and heartaches will eventually make for either very warm or very funny stories to tell your grandchildren.

# 5. Pursue friendships over ‘fan-ships’

When you excel professionally, you will gather two kinds of people: the ones who hate you and the ones you love you. Don’t just keep receiving rounds of applause from the latter ones. Know them. Take interest in their lives, struggles, strengths and weaknesses. Is there any way you could be their true friend? You did achieve what you achieved from your talent and skill. But it takes a big heart to appreciate that. Don’t just achieve things for getting and adding more fans in your life. Pursue each of these individuals. See if you have something in common, see if you can start a good friendship. This friendship may not be very deep but if you can be a friend in need, it would be worth it. Remember, fans will stop being your fans at your first mistake. Friends, however, would love you despite mistakes.

There’s no treasure better than friends

# 6. Don’t hide a heartache behind a social media profile picture

It’s Orkut and MySpace now, it would be Facebook soon. Don’t log on to Orkut to feel better than you are actually feeling. The likes and comments that you get on Orkut, they are not real life. You still must deal with your real heartaches and share them with real people. Don’t rant publicly but share those feelings with trusted friends and seek their counsel. In any case, you will have to face it yourself. Remember, social media is no cure for heartaches. It only brushes your self-esteem for some time. You need to find your respect and cure in real life.

You know what? A 21-year-old me would have still made the same mistakes and choices. And even if I could tell her these things, she would have gone ahead and lived the life she has lived. The only difference is – she would have learnt earlier and faster. And she would have been happier in her 20s. And that’s something I still wish for her.