10 things I learned in my twenties
Normally, friends would ask me each year on the 17th of September “how do you feel?” And my answer would each year be “the same as last year, no real difference”. Except this year, it is really weird seeing the first digit of my age change to a 3 instead of the usual 2. A decade has passed and what a decade it was. I don’t want this blog post to be cheesy or anything and is to be read merely as a reflection on what I learned in my twenties. Perhaps some young people out there, in their early twenties might find it useful.
So, buckle up 😉
Invest time, money, effort and sometimes sleep into your education and networking. The way I see it today, in our teenage years we learn the basics of living and understanding our society, in our twenties we try things out, experiment, meet people, build relationships and hone skills which will allow us to improve our quality of life in the third decade of our lives and beyond. Spend time in educating yourself financially, socially, hang out with people, get to know them and build lasting relationships.
Learn to be patient. Good things come to those who know how and when to wait for the right opportunity. But when it presents itself, go on and catch it! without hesitation Develop this skill, it will be a lifesaver and will bring many great results.
Be grateful to the important people in your life. Not always easy. Especially if these people are the closest to you and have your best interests at heart. I got into many arguments with friends and parents who were telling me things which I didn’t want to either hear or see, but in which in the end were right. Take the time to say thank you and make them feel appreciated. These relationships are perhaps the most important someone can have and without proper care, just like a plant, they die out.
Approach people in person. Some of the most important things in my life happened because I randomly came up and talked to people. Some people, extroverts, find it much easier than us introverts to approach people and start conversations. As difficult as it might be, try it. Rarely do people turn around and leave or don’t interact. A real life example: I was at my first Impuls Academy in Graz in 2015 and I went to the reading session of Klangforum Wien, one of the most active and important contemporary music ensembles in the world. There, after the session was over, I decided to talk to the accordionist, Krassimir Sterev, who I was friends with on Facebook for a couple of years, but we never really talked. I came up to him, introduced myself, said that we were friends on Facebook and that I was planning on studying in Germany and after a short chat... he ran to catch a flight to Madrid for an opera project with Klangforum Wien. The entire moment lasted less than 5 minutes. Little did I know that these 5 minutes will change my life entirely. A couple of months later he wrote to me on Facebook, telling me about the new class at the Hochschule fur Musik in Munich which he would lead and whether I’d like to apply. Perhaps I wouldn’t have been where I am today without that moment, so do come up and talk to people.
Embrace the changes and the new, but don’t run after them! Our world is in constant change and innovation at an ultrafast speed. What is new today will be old in a year or two. It is super difficult not to get caught up in the hype of it all, but while I think we should embrace change and evaluate what it brings into our lives, it is equally important not to run after all it brings. Why? Because we will never catch it, it will continue running faster and faster.
Don’t look for the right decision, sometimes there isn’t one. Rather look for the less wrong decision. I got stuck many many MANY times looking for the right course of action, but as the years passed I realized that many times there is no 100% right decision. The only way to get moving into some direction is to take the less wrong decision. As Kevin Roberts once said in one of his guest talks “Make the big decisions with your heart and the small ones with your head”.
If you have an idea or would like to try out a new hobby or something you enjoy, go for it! It is much better living with a clear conscious of “hey, I tried it and it worked (or didn’t)” or “I liked trying out diving”, for example, rather than spend a huge amount of time thinking “what if I would have done that?” Experiences beat regrets most of the time.
Ask yourself questions, especially the difficult ones. I oftentimes avoided (and sometimes still do) asking myself the “why”. Why am I a musician? Why do I live here or there? Why am I still doing this job? The truth is, being honest with ourselves is hard, at least for me. Figuring out what you want to do with your life (and why?) is perhaps the most difficult thing out there. And in finding the answers to these questions the “why?” is at the core.