Twenty.

Coming of age of being twenty, I don’t know whether to finally feel alive or to be upset that I’m becoming an adult possibly without anymore guidance. I wouldn’t say that twenty years of life is a great achievement… But it is almost definitely a milestone that I’ve reached thus far. I hope you’re all wrapped up for a really long post! (#reasonswhyicaneasilywritea3000wordessay)

Here’s twenty things I’ve learnt and experienced thus far. I do not doubt that there are going to be some points that are similar to what I’ve written when I was eighteen, but trust me, these are the important points if they’re worth writing about twice. I’m not going to limit myself to the way we live outside of school, because school takes up a large majority of my life. My occupation is still, ultimately, a student. I’m gonna get real in this post though.

1. It’s okay to make the choice of wanting to be with friends and acquaintances sometimes. Perhaps you’ve spent the entire day or an entire week alone and you want to feel some happiness, talk to some people… It’s okay to reach out to others for a conversation.

2. Take the initiative. Be it wanting a conversation with a random stranger, or simply reaching out to a friend that you haven’t spoken to for a long time… Don’t hesitate and do it. You’ll never know what comes out of it at the end of the conversation.

3. Love yourself. Go have that pasta that you’ve been craving for, take a break from your phone and go to sleep. Take the time to catch the movie you want to watch, take a deep breathe and relax before embarking on your next task. Your mental health, I would say, is much more important than your physical health.

4. Go travel, unless you’re poor like me. Haha! What I mean is to go travel around your city, go to neighbourhoods that you’ve never been, go to town and feel like a tourist. We’re often trapped in our own lives of travelling back and forth from work/school to home, and we rarely deviate from there. Experiencing another neighbourhood may give your mind the fresh air that you need. Of course, the best form of travelling is still to travel to another country/city/state (depending on how big your country is).

5. Photograph scenes, video moments. I naturally do this as a person who enjoys photography. But of course, not everyone is interested in taking aesthetic photos. However, there’s nothing wrong with taking a quick snap of something nice that you see. Especially because, photographs and videos that you’ve taken on a trip (to anywhere) will be remembered not just by your memories but also by evidence of how much fun you’ve had. Videos when you’re travelling with friends and family especially.

6. Watch your backs. Yes, you should trust your friends, but you also have to cover your asses. As folks from my CCA mentioned, there are snakes and foxes everywhere. (S/N: Foxes are generally associated with the word ‘slippery’. Go figure.) What I’ve learnt here is not to give others the perfect ammunition to your own downfall. Most importantly, trust your instincts and learn how to sniff out others’ real intentions before deciding the topics to be conversed.

7. Continuing from the previous part, don’t become a snake. Real life isn’t like slither.io where you can just slither to kill someone else from behind and not having to face the consequences. In real life, if you back stab someone, good luck to your reputation and your future dealings. Word travels, and you’d be surprised how small the world can be these days. Be an ethical and trustworthy person because with trust comes with better opportunities.

8. Hustle hard. In order to keep yourself climbing on the pecking order, you really have to work hard to get there. When it comes to studying, understand that different people have different ways of learning, so it is imperative that you find the most efficient way to study. Just because I study better by making flashcards doesn’t mean that the next person is going to learn well with flashcards as they may prefer drawing mind maps. Study smart on top of studying hard.

9. Consistency is definitely key. It doesn’t matter whether your education works in the way that you learn everything in 2/3 years and regurgitate everything at your major exams or consistent grading per semester to form a GPA. Consistency is still definitely key. That feeling that you get after coming back for a new term feeling estranged from studying is not good. That comfortable feeling that comes from not having anything to do is not one to be familiar with (even though all we want to do is to get cozy with it). Take time to rest but remember not to rest for too long.

10. Take note of the time! Time management is key when it comes to making the most out of your day. I’ve made some poor time management decisions before, causing one of the most outstanding memory of my second year in poly where I finished a report when the sun came up. It is not just time management for studies and projects though. Set aside some time not only for studying but also for extra curricular activities, to spend time with your family, to go out with your friends.

11. This might sound really insensitive but grades really matter. They are the one defining thing that dictates your every move between institutions. The better grades you get, the more choices you’ve got for higher level studies. Here, if you screwed up on your O Levels, it marks a significant stain on your university application even though you’ve done spectacularly at the tertiary level. It is unfair, but it is life. Pulling up the grades are not impossible, you just need to have the discipline and put in your maximum effort to climb back up the ladder.

12. It’s okay to cut toxic out of your lives. I don’t remember how many times I thought “what would this person think if I unfollowed on twitter/instagram?” and how great it felt when I finally did so. I would say, it is definitely not a requirement to follow all your ‘friends’ on social media. We all have differing views about things, if it is triggering/pisses you off, you are more than allowed to press unfollow. You don’t have to let yourself get poisoned.

13. First impressions are important, but we should never respond according to our first impressions. Always keep an open mind about the new people that you meet. Just because they gave you a good impression doesn’t mean that they are definitely a good person with a good heart and will definitely be your friend. And vice versa.

14. Learn to appreciate diversity. Imagine a place without diversity, how boring it would be. There is a reason why there are different forms of entertainment – books, music, videos, etc. And each form of entertainment has different genres. I’m not gonna list them out, it’ll be forever before I’m done. Don’t judge a book by its cover, is ultimately what I’m getting at. You’ll never know whether or not you’ll actually enjoy it until you try watching it properly. Not 5 second glances.

15. Take a pinch of salt when you read things from the Internet. Regardless of whether you’re reading articles from Facebook, or reading your friend’s caption on Instagram… Remember fake news are literally everywhere, so don’t believe everything that you’ve read online. Also, we all post things that look the best for us online. It may not always be true.

16. Learn when to stand firm to your thoughts, also learn when is right to stand down.

17. Be actively aware of politics happening all around the world! I do suppose trying to catch up with worldwide politics is ridiculous. However, start by reading the local news about your government. They are, after all, the people who controls the way you live your life. At the same time, it is important to pick articles from two sides of the people. Form your own opinions upon reflecting on your difficulties on life.

18. Pick your friends wisely and appreciate them properly! Honestly, the first people you lean to when you get upset are your friends. Even though friends come and go, always be grateful to your friends because they have to deal with your shit almost on a daily basis.

19. Your parents are humans too. They didn’t just burst out of a rock as a baby. Yes, they are usually complete drags but everything that they say to you is because they love you. Although yes, sometimes parents may not have the right concept, but you can’t blame them for advising you with what they think is right. Spend more time with your family, be more appreciative for them because they are definitely the only ones who willingly give us unconditional love.

20. Understand that birthdays are not just for friends to celebrate each others’ births and appreciating each other… but also the day that you should be the most grateful to your mother. It is the day that mothers go through great pain to bring you to this world. That being said, I don’t agree that you should only appreciate what your mom has done for you only on your birthday and maybe Mothers’ Day.

That’s it for now!

Thanks everyone for their well wishes!

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