In September, I’ve turned 29. The next twelve months will bring many changes and uncertainties. Naturally, I’ve been thinking (overthinking, actually) about my past, present, and future. The truth is, turning 30 will be the least of my problems.
I’ll be honest, it is strange to think that I’m old enough to give life lessons to younger ones. I mean, I’m an emotional mess, I still haven’t figured out what to do with myself when I grow up, and either overthink or don’t think at all. I should be the last person to give tips and advice. That, of course, will not stop me from doing it anyway.
When looking back at all the things I’ve done and achieved in my adult years so far, I’ve realized that travelling changed me more than anything else. Especially solo travelling, as most of my travels were. There are countless things I’ve learned in the last 29 years, but most lessons can be boiled down to just three key lessons.
Value your Health
This seems a bit like a no-brainer, but when we’re young(er) we tend to think that illness and declining health is something we have to fear when we’re old and grey. The thing is, the less you care about your health in your youth, the earlier you’ll feel the consequences of this recklessness. Trust me, I know. It is a sobering experience to fall ill when you’re alone, miles and miles away from home. Whatever you do or don’t do, try to think ahead and treat your health as the precious thing it actually is. On a related note, get a good health insurance and a good retirement plan, now. Just do it.
One of the first things I’ve learned early on in my travels was to accept and embrace change. In general, I’m someone that likes to plan ahead. To stay organized and well-prepared keeps me at ease, but life taught me over and over again that everything turns out differently than you think. More often than not, these changes turned out to be the best things that could’ve happened to me. It sounds cheesy, but I do believe in the saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. Whatever it is that you’re afraid of, do it. Sure, there is the chance that it won’t work out. Life’s not easy and never will be, never forget that. However, even failure could open up new opportunities.
“Live all you can; it’s a mistake not to.”
My last, and most important point, can be summed up in a quote from Henry James’ novel The Ambasssadors:
“Live all you can; it’s a mistake not to. It doesn’t so much matter what you do in particular so long as you have your life. If you haven’t had that what have you had? … I haven’t done so enough before—and now I’m too old; too old at any rate for what I see. … What one loses one loses; make no mistake about that. … Still, we have the illusion of freedom; therefore don’t be, like me, without the memory of that illusion. I was either, at the right time, too stupid or too intelligent to have it; I don’t quite know which. Of course at present I’m a case of reaction against the mistake. … Do what you like so long as you don’t make my mistake. For it was a mistake. Live!”
I’ve heard similar advices from older relatives, urging me to live my life to the fullest. I might not be proud of everything I did in life, but I don’t regret anything. Everything I did, even the mistakes, were my decisions. Everything I’ve accomplished or failed to achieve in life was based on what I wanted to do with my life. You hear it so often these day that it begins to lose its meaning, but in the end you won’t regret the things you’ve done, but those you didn’t do. It feels like yesterday when I turned 18 and I’m sure it will feel like a blink of an eye for when I’ll turn 40. Life is short. As long as you don’t harm yourself or others, live all you can!