7 Pieces of Advice I Wish I Could Give My 20-Something Self

You might have been asked, especially if you’ve just aged past the calendar days, a common open-ended question, “What best advice can you give your 20-something self?”

Your attempts to answer this question do trigger the what-ifs, or somewhat regrets about things unfortunately missed and failed.

Well, our younger and still immature selves then would think and do far differently, or probably were just going with the norms, from what we are right now.

I must say that my maturity kicked in when I reached my late 20s or just recently, at early 30s. That’s when I began to question my real purpose amidst the routinary tasks expected of me as a working professional – get up early in the morning, tap the ID at the office, deal with the coworkers, the students, and many people, and just do all what needs to be done — while hoping that it was weekend again for an escape from the weekday grind or a payday to claim the little reward for such a hard labor.

I would ask myself, “Is this just what I want with my life? Do I see myself still doing these things for the next years.” So, I also started rethinking the routine, and realized, “No, it’s not. It’s not what I planned for myself.”

Now, if I could rewind the clock and meet my 20-something self face to face, these are the best pieces of advice I would give him.

[1] Get employed, but don’t be afraid to look for greener pastures. Landing a job after college graduation was a norm I could consider unless I belong to the upper class that it could have been just an option.

I got absorbed by my alma mater for a college instructorship (then in another where I spent almost a decade). Just as for many, it was then a big goal instantly attained. I could finally apply what I just learned from school and prove my worth.

I thought life would be as simple as going through the cycle — working, earning, and buying things I needed and wanted — until I felt stuck in the same company that it became my comfort zone at the cost of the supposedly search for greener pastures.

I had no idea what’s outside which might have given me more opportunities and a more rewarding career. I should have kept moving forward.

[2] Go for professional and personal development, but make sure you’re truly passionate about it. Many people I know just go with the forces and expectations in the workplace or in the family. I too was pushed into doing professional development stuff that in the first place, I never saw myself into.

Neither did I see myself being what these people imagined me to become. In other words, my vision was totally different from theirs, and without courage to tell them what I really wanted, I was left frustrated and doubtful about my potential.

7 Pieces of Advice I Wish I Could Give My 20-Something Self

[3] Live your life the way you want it (whatever it takes). I enjoy doing as in lots of things — writing, blogging, cooking, gardening, fishkeeping, doing business, and many more, but I landed a career in teaching.

It was an instant and unexamined but the most convenient choice I filled out the form for college admission.

I did pretty well in college, so I accepted defeat and stood for the decision. Neither did I hate nor love it. I was just passive, and I held onto the belief that I would eventually fall for it.

Career nobility and the fulfillment though failed to convince me, but it took ten expensive years before I redeemed my consciousness and finally had the courage to give it up. Such a big life lesson then, bad decisions can really be that expensive.

[4] Save as much as you can and start making long-term investments as young as you are. It’s common among young professionals who have just excitedly joined the workforce to enjoy the instant fruits of labor and splurge on food, fashion, and travel. Think long term, and grab all opportunities to save and make investments.

I am thankful I had my aunt during this period that I was convinced to avail both a life insurance and a life plan at 23. But I still regret the days I should have been into dedicated saving.

I should have stashed away a fixed percentage of my income for this purpose rather than spending on things with diminishing value over time.

[5] Build a good reputation and make friends for keeps. People come and go. Our collegemates and coworkers come and go, but some of them remain in our social circle, connected by occasional social media interactions, a simple chat or comment to a post.

We may not know how big the impact would be if these people who just drift away would tell their positive memories and stories about us until such time that strangers tell us back.

Friends for keeps may be hard to find, and as we grow older, we realize that real friendship is more than the Friday nights out or the sustained communication through the years. It is but such a special bond.

7 Pieces of Advice I Wish I Could Give My 20-Something Self

[6] Invest in good looks and get into shape. Great personality attracts success. Many would say that we be contented with our looks, but even psychology says that there are more opportunities for those who have the pleasing and cheerful personalities that those who do not have.

Investing in good looks does not necessarily mean undergoing major plastic surgeries, but a minor rhinoplasty I was also once desperate for will bring confidence if that what it takes. Always bring out the best in you.

[7] Keep a disciplined and healthy daily routine. Many successful people say they wake up as early as four, read the daily newspaper, do some exercise, take a healthy breakfast, and get mentally and physically ready for work. These I haven’t done ever since.

I rather binge on Netflix movies, sleep late at night, stretch an hour for all the morning preparations, and even skip breakfast. It’s not healthy, and it’s entirely opposite that disciplined routine. At least, I survive the daily grind.

7 Pieces of Advice I Wish I Could Give My 20-Something Self

In the end, figuring out what my life should really be in the early 20s was something beyond description, or as others would simply say, it is like jumping off a cliff without a parachute on.

I wish I had these pieces of advice early on, but the gratitude for all the experiences that have shaped me into the man I am today outweighs those regrets.

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