Mid-twenties are when you make most mistakes and learn most lessons. So far, I’ve learned some pretty solid lessons from life, which I can now proudly preach.

Embrace, don’t resist change

Much easier said than done I know, but coming from personal experience, going with the flow sometimes results in greater happiness than fighting the inevitable changes in life. New job, broken relationships, failures, whatever it may be – if you just let go for a bit and allow things to unfold you’ll see stuff just working out in your favor.

I’m not saying don’t make action plans and look for ways to get out of a difficult situation. I’m saying don’t try to fight it if things are not happening how you wanted them to happen.

Do not tell everyone your plans

I know how much we all like to tell our friends our big plans and goals. As much as I enjoy it myself, I’ve realized sharing my plans, particularly personal life goals magically makes them never happen. This is not just my personal opinion, but a psychological concept – you are less likely to execute the plans if you have shared them with someone.

I’m still learning not to share everything with everyone because the goals that I’ve announced to friends, I’ve already stopped chasing (and not even intentionally). I wanted to learn horse-riding, I wanted to start a creative agency. Presenting to you a perfect example of a self-fulfilling prophecy…

Support other people’s success

Our natural reaction to people’s achievements that we see on Facebook is usually surprise first, and hate second. But I’ve learned that supporting people when they start something new, and congratulating them when they achieve something, always comes back to me in a good way.

Some of the people I’ve studied with in school have got way ahead of everybody else with their careers and relationships. And even though sometimes there are pangs of jealousy, I’ve learned that supporting other people’s success is always better than talking about how they didn’t deserve it.

Learn to enjoy your own company.

I have a nice group of close friends and a nice group of good friends. Every time I want to go out, I manage to find company – just get lucky that way. But nothing is worse than not being able to have fun when alone. People like me get lonely easily so it’s difficult to do things alone. But it’s only a matter of a few solo trips to the mall/cinema/restaurant and you get as comfortable with solo hangouts as you do with people you love.

Time is not equal to money, time is more valuable than money. Never use it carelessly.

Binging on series and the funny Youtube videos is where the time you complain about is “flying.” It’s sad when I tell people how precious their time is and they should be putting it to good use and they think I’m a freak. But really, are you always going to be in your 20s? Do you really want to remember your 20s as the time you spent partying and watching amazing shows? No one is asking you to conquer the world, but I’m sure you can do fun productive things. I’m probably on the other end of the spectrum because I don’t watch ANY series or ANY Youtube – don’t be like me.

Talking about fun, productive things…

Health really is wealth

You can work out! Working out is not just fun and productive, it is also vital for a happier life. Lucky I learned this before I got my first wrinkle. Staying fit at this age makes me the freak that never complains about fatigue, a growing belly, or unexplained lack of motivation. But who cares?

The earlier you learn this life lesson, the longer you can live to preach it. I believe that we should treat our bodies like a plant – nourish it and take care of it because it’s getting older. Whatever hippies say, age is not just a number when it comes to physical health.

Forgive yourself

This is a life lesson a lot of us never learn. Truth is that most mistakes we make in our lives are easily forgivable. If we just let them be.  The longer we think about them, the longer they remain a part of our lives and the longer they cause us pain.

I used to cuss myself for days if I embarrassed myself or if I hurt someone. But now I just go like, “I forgive you Siham, you are allowed to do lots of stupid things.” Saves me emotional investment on things that don’t matter.

Never stop learning!

I do this by reading, reading and more reading – it is now the single most favorite activity of my day. But you can do it in other ways. You can take hundreds of online courses at Khan Academy or NovoEd. Youtube also offers tons of crash courses on different topics. Till university you’re forced to learn and use your brain, but what about after that? We get mindless desk jobs and only one part of our brain keeps working while the rest rusts away.

There is really no end to learning when you have the internet. Instead, people Instagram.

Listen more than you speak

Learned this from my friend and the 2000 self-help books I read. Listening is turning out to be much better than talking in so many ways – you learn from people, you don’t have to worry about saying the right things, people like you more because everyone wants to be heard, you make less effort, what else?life quote

Always smile

No shit, Sherlock. I find it really hard to believe that people in this part of the world interpret a smile for everything except a nice gesture. A friend was once complaining about how people here don’t smile. You enter an elevator and there’s another person but they never smile. My simple response was “Do you?” If people don’t smile, then you do it and I guarantee they will smile back.

I’m sure there’s still a lot to learn, but I’m thankful for my experiences that have taught me so much so early in life.

What are some of the life lessons you have learned in life so far?

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I’m Siham - a 25-year-old Pakistani, born and raised in the UAE. Currently doing a boring desk job in Dubai - but my passion lies in reading, writing and motivating people.

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