Over the past few months, I’ve been searching for wisdom in places we often forget it exists: the 104-year-old woman in a nursing home, that random dude sitting next to you waiting for the Septa bus, or the 6-year-old who just wants to hear stories!
Inspired by these people, below is a compilation of wisdom from beautiful humans of all ages from all over the globe. Each one answered the question: What is something you would tell a 22, almost 23-year-old? Looking back on your experiences, what would you tell your 23-year-old self now?
(1) "What you think today will affect your life for many many years to come. I always hope you can be like a strong tree, which can take the heat, bear the cold, give shelter for others." (In an email from my mom, when I was graduating college.)
(2) About 7 months after graduating college a neighbor shared wisdom along the lines of: "Sometimes things we think are great don't turn out to be what we expect. And things we don't expect turn out to be great." Along those lines, this parable also sums it up pretty well: Maybe, Said the Farmer.
(3) Thomas Cleary wrote:
When there is much to do, don’t be afraid;
When there is nothing to do, don't be hasty; and
Don't talk about opinions of right or wrong when
action can be taken.
- Audrey, California, USA, 28
Be true to your real nature. Be your true Self. When we find out what our real nature is, we learn to be fearless. When I look back over the trajectory I see how it was always when I was able to face challenges and work through them with pure intention, that I was able to grow. Life throws adversity in many forms. These adversities can serve us. They always do. The truth is we have no control over the external happenings, but we hold the capacity in the way we are able to accept that which is offered. We take responsibility for our own life. Nobody else has that power. It is within ourselves, and only ourselves. And how do we find our real nature? The nature which is inside us? We simply look inside us... Be grateful for the steps forward, sideways and backwards. Dance with life.
- Ani, London, UK, 50
It sounds cheesy, but I'd tell her to be true to herself no matter waht. It's hard when you're a late bloomer in your twenties and it seems like everyone is pairing up, getting married, and having impressive careers. It takes a lot of strength to navigate your own path, but I'd let her know it's absolutely the right choice for her. Do your own thing, be open to new experiences, and don't worry about what anyone else says.
- Anna Goldfarb, Philadelphia, PA, USA, 38
"Never be afraid to be who you were born to be, live a life of purpose and meaning, live a life that's true to you"
- John Sweeney, Cork, Ireland, 32
You are taught to work hard, to drive your destiny, to make something of your precious life. That's true, but remind yourself that underneath the waves of your effort lie the undefinable laws of the ocean. Listen carefully because these laws won't be as loud as the commercials on TV; they will instead whisper with the poetry of serendipity. All our lives start with an act of serendipity that we can't explain -- our parents. It defines so much of what we are able to do in life, and yet we had no control over it. As we grow older, we tend to identify ourselves with the wave and forget about the ocean. Resist that temptation. Don't ignore that five dollar bill you find on the streets, simply because you haven't earned it. If you hold acts of serendipity with reverence, you will mature into grace. Grace isn't deserved or undeserved, understandable or mysterious, pain or pleasure. It is simply grace -- and it is aligned with the laws of the ocean. Live a life of grace.
- Nipun Mehta, California, USA, 40
"Make your life a story that can be told"
- Isaac Guerrero, Peña, Bogota, Colombia, 30
A friend once told me - probably right about when I was 23 - that every step we take takes us in the direction we want to go, whether or not we know it or not. It's stuck with me ever since.
- Gillian Rhodes, South Korea, 26
Don't be afraid to "waste" time. Do things that are not necessarily considered "useful", go hiking, volunteer, learn and try out as many things as possible to better understand who you are, what makes you happy and how you want to contribute.
- Sara Usinger, Tehran, Iran
1) There's no "right" place to be in life
2) Spend time with your friends. It's ok to shed some college friends, and find some new "post grad" friends. Totally natural. Try to find a few that you really love and spend quality time with, don't collect a million. I always thought about it like this...in 5-10 years, who will I want in my bridal party?
3) Find hobbies you love and can always count on, even when your relationship and your job gets rough.
4) Learn to love yourself. Learn what you like to do on a free day. Learn what you do when you are sad, happy, nervous, etc. before you settle down, get to know what it's like to be purely you.
- Yuval Yarden, Philadelphia, PA, USA, 24
"Leap and the net will appear."
- Anastasia Hambali, Jakarta, Indonesia, 27
If you keep mindful about the perspective you will do what you do not for a short-sighted aim but for a universal purpose, and then you will find your true inner strength!
- Miki, Madrid, Spain, 32
I would tell myself to enjoy free time more often. I was so busy working, taking it all so seriously that I missed out on a lot of joy and personal development.
- Mike Greenberg, New York City, New York, USA, 27
“Take the long view. It’s a long life (hopefully!) and there will be lots of ups and downs. There will be some things you can control and many things that you cannot. What’s important is to take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves – those that appear by luck or because you helped to create the right circumstances for them to exist”.
- Chuck Sacco, Philadelphia, 53