After chronicling the first 17, here come the remaining 16 of the 33 top lessons life has taught me in the past as many years of my existence. It is not so bad, actually.
1. Always Listen to Your Mother
Other than your mother, no one really cares for you. Everyone else, no matter who they are, will at least unconsciously have their own welfare ahead of yours. A mother’s love is the purest form of care nature has devised, she will ONLY wish good for her offspring. Your mother is the only one person who will love you and root for you no matter what, selflessly without malice and hangups, who will unequivocally put your welfare above all, even that of, herself in everything. Only a mother is capable of loving you unconditionally no matter what your shortcomings are, and hence will be the only one who you can blindly trust. She is the only one who will really wish and say what is good for you without any retributions ans only she will be truly heartbroken when things go wrong for you. She will never look at what gains she can claim for herself or weigh pros and cons in her favour. Listen to her, a mother always knows best. Her suggestions might seem outrageous to you at first, but remember, she is speaking from the heart and really wishes only good for you no matter what the conditions.
2. Knowledge of a Language is Power
Language is used to communicate and put across your ideas and thoughts to others. Knowing a language is power because you will get more listeners and will be able to manipulate their thoughts, not to mention you being able to connect with and get closer to lot many people. You will also be favorable with many and you will be able to immensely help yourself in many situations in life. Egoistic idiots who demand that everyone talk to them in the language they want to hear will never understand what the power of a language can do and the horizons the knowledge of different languages can open up.
3. Find a Passion and Dedicate yourself to it
Find yourself a passion, something you love doing and/or care about that extends beyond your everyday life. Doing something you love can bring a lot of happiness and will relax and refresh you apart from enabling you to gain tons of knowledge. In India, stupid people will mock you calling such pursuits a waste of time when you should be spending your time rotting in some office or classroom. Don’t give a damn. Go out and do what makes you happy. It does not matter if it is collecting anything, painting/drawing, paper art, blogging, woodworking, Railfanning, automobiles or just sitting on the sidewalk looking at people. Also, the internet.
4. Be Different!
Stand apart from the crowd. Be proud of your uniqueness, follow no one blindly and have your own opinion on everything. Do not do something because everyone else is doing it, without knowing if it is best for you. Else you will be disappointed. People are Sheep. They buy a Samsung Galaxy or a Maruti Swift because everyone has one. They become a Software Engineer or a MBA become everyone else does. They buy overpriced apartments because everyone else did. Break free and try to make your own decisions for a change, even if you will be hounded for that. It really feels good to stand out from the crowd and more often than not you will be rewarded for it. If you follow the herd, you will go over the cliff with it.
5. Gather Skills Rather than Degrees
In today’s Indian setting things like “follow your dreams”, “pursue your passions” etc. do not make sense since they don’t pay the bills unless you have substantial backup. However, I have realized that developing your passion into a finely refined skill actually does pay the bills. It does not really matter what you studied, pick a passion and become exceedingly good at it and then showcase it. It can be a programming language, story writing, carpentry or anything. On a professional scale, always get a solid skill for yourself rather than worthless degrees. Employers do not care about degrees but are ready to splurge for skills. For example, after becoming a B.Tech Victim, channelize your energy into acquiring a skill like high-level proficiency in a couple of languages rather than trying to get useless MBA degrees which do not really put any tangible, showcase-able skill into you. You will go places.
6. Nobody Owes you Anything
Do not act as if all the other people in the World and the Universe in general owe you something and hence are supposed to pander to your every need, whim and fancy. No one owes you fucking anything. Everyone has their own lives to take care of and their own priorities. It is not the BMTC bus driver’s job to safeguard your life while you try stunts on your bike in front of his bus. It is not the job of the world around you to go out of their way to learn and cow down and learn your ways to make you feel comfortable while you refuse to move even a finger. And it is by no means to job of the Universe to make things happen to you. It has lots of other more far important things to do. If you want something, work for it. Do not expect anything from anyone and you will be pleasantly surprised.
7. Marks/Grades in School will be Forgotten
Remember how much it mattered becoming the “topper” in school, how much they were mollycoddled and how much torture “non-toppers” had to go through because of them? “toppers” were hailed to become the saviors of mankind and the propagators of the Universe. What happened? Nothing. In our school education system, rote-learning and memorization matters and those who were better at this ended up at the top back then. As time went on, others who were not that good at memorizing things but had other talents made use of it and proceeded to reach heights as well. In most cases, the topper and the 3rd class guy will end up working in adjacent cubicles. There is nothing wrong if you are not good at scoring marks in school except that you might not get into IIT. But do you really want to join IIT?
8. Your Work, Career etc don’t Really Matter
Most people today become fanatically obsessed with their “work” and “career”, sacrificing their own health, family and life in pursuit of completing endless streams of pointless tasks for someone. They have no passions or interests outside of work, talk only “office talk” even to outsiders, spend their entire energy and life working towards some perceived “career goals” they might attain by 60, after which they plan to “enjoy life”. Never take your work or career too seriously. A job is just a part of one’s life, a means to earn one’s livelihood by fulfilling a set of tasks using your skills, for which you are paid in cash or kind by employers to whom you are just disposable tools. Complete your assigned tasks wholeheartedly but do not sit at your desk for a minute more than necessary. The real world is out there, your family and friends are waiting for you. Life is about living and not about sitting in a building for 16+ hours a day staring at computer monitors. Your job and career will not come and caress you on your death bed.
9. It is not a Question of ‘If’, but a Question of ‘When’
Shit will happen. Shit will keep on happening. Maybe it won’t happen right now, but it definitely will happen. Most people go around with their arrogance proclaiming “It will not happen to me!” Be it accidents, diseases, financial, work or family problems and so on. And it will be these people who will feel the pinch first. I realized this long back and being prepared for eventualities has helped me because they don’t catch me unawares. There is not a single person in this World who is tragedy-proof. Sorry to say this, but it will happen. To everyone. Be prepared.
10. You can Blame only Yourself
There is only one person you can blame for whatever has happened in your life – You. Looking back, there is no point blaming anyone else for your life, no matter what they would have done to change outcomes that made you reach where you are today. For everything that had happened, you had other chances to make it right, a counter measure that you could have taken to make it right. You did not. Even for unequivocal circumstances, you could have made a difference yourself. Blaming others, fate, the Universe etc will not make any difference. The promises hardest to keep are the ones you made to yourself.
11. Move On!
Sometimes you cannot give an explanation for things not happening other than “if things are meant to happen, they will and if they don’t, tough luck”. Try your best and if it does not work out, drop it and turn your attention to something else or an alternative solution. You will only be wasting your time and life if you cry over stuff that did not happen. Do not be afraid that you will not be left with nothing, there is always something for everyone. If not now, some other time. Let it go and move on, you have to, there is no other way around it. Also By an age, you will be able to know what you are good at and what you are not good at. Learn to develop your inherent talents rather than trying to gain talent for something you don’t have an eye for. Some of us are good at some things, some aren’t.
12. Life Answers all your Questions
Maybe not immediately, but surely in due course. If you seek the answer to the questions in your head and heart with enough persistence, you will get the answers. It will take years, maybe decades to understand why things happened as they did, but you will get to know the answers. And in most cases, the answer will be “Because you were young and stupid”. That is okay, you are what you are today because of those mistakes you made. Just be patient and wait for the answers. They are coming.
13. There is no such thing as Perfect Anything
People spend their entire lives searching for the elusive perfect whatever it is that they cherish or want most. Perfect partner (guy or girl), perfect car, perfect job, perfect marriage, perfect house, perfect seats, perfect Chicken Biriyani. I learned a tad too late that no such thing exists. Even if it does, there is almost no chance of you ever finding it. This dream of “perfectness” comes usually out of entitlement and the imaginary perception that one is “perfect”, always right and in some ways always the underdog who was always destined to win. Nope, does not happen. Everything has its drawbacks and shortcomings and learning to accept them as they are will do tons of good than wasting your life waiting for the perfect whatever. Ideal worlds and things exist only in the minds of marketers.
14. You Have to fight your Own Battles
As you go older, more and more demons will rear their head inside you, waging wars against you in your head and heart and pulling you in many directions but mainly down. You will have to battle them to either overcome them or make peace with them or to join them, but the battle has to be fought and there is no way around it. And it is your own personal battle to make. Other people can only guide you and the battles of your life have to be fought by you alone because only you are you and others have their own battles to fight. How well you fare in these battles decide who and what you will transform into for the the rest of your life. The victorious will claim guts and glory while the defeated will wither away into oblivion, imploding into themselves. Your victory will depend on how well you were prepared for the battle of life, something you cannot memorize from a textbook but only through your experiences of making decisions.
15. Life is Unfair
So get over it. The cash-rich dishonest guy got the girl? The ruthless criminal, the uneducated barbarian, corrupted politician and such lowlifes enjoy the good life with all its kicks while you, the good guy, is stuck in the rut with EMIs and a sucky job? The rich politician’s kid does not have to study and can party no end? Some people are born lucky and do not have to do anything in life to survive? Suck it up. Unfortunately, this is reality and there is nothing you can do about it. Even Karma seems to be playing it safe these days. The maximum you can do is stop cribbing and do something about it. The underdog wins only in movies. Life IS unfair and movies are a conspiracy to make us believe otherwise.
16. There Always is a Way
And that way lies outside your comfort zone. If you do not like something, stop cribbing about it and do something. Or atleast try to. If it does not work out you will have at least the satisfaction of having tried. There is always a problem to every solution if you just try hard enough to solve it. Don’t like your job? Move heaven and earth to get another one. Don’t have enough money? Find avenues to earn more. Unhappy with your life in general? Go somewhere you feel your life will be better. But all these things are possible only if you make sacrifices, take risks and get out of your comfort zone. It will be terrifying at first, but you will be rewarded in the end. Do not let anyone run over your dreams.
Honorable Mention: LOVE
Some of us are good at wooing the opposite sex, most of us are not. You cannot “make” someone else fall in love with you, the only real test of free will. It has to happen and sometimes it will not, no matter what, the only place where “There always is a way” will not apply. If someone didn’t love you or rejected you, do not hate them for it. They had other priorities on mind when it came to choosing a partner, and especially when it comes to women, there is nothing more complicated. But all said and done, almost everything said about women “liking” intelligent and humorous men is Bolshevik. Safety, security, power and most of all, healthy genes is what matters. You cannot blame women, it is evolutionary instinct for them to get attracted to men who can keep them and their kids safe. Also, if you look closely, you can see that all of these 33 lessons can be related to love and relationships in some way or other. It is no coincidence :)
These were the second 16 after the 17 in the first part making it in total 33 things I have learned from life so far, one for each year I have lived. There is still (hopefully) a long way to go, lots of mistakes to be made, lots of failures to be overcome and lots of new lessons to be learned. The path still winds long through unknown lands, a path that has to be traversed with faith in the heart and hope in the soul. I wish you all the best, may your spirits guard you true!
And quite truly, life keeps teaching you things. Five years later, here are five more things I learned from life.