Going towards the end of my 26th year on this earth, I am starting to realize that I am now closer to 30 than 20. I didn’t make a big deal out of 25, and not out of 26, and probably I will also not make a huge deal out of 27, but somehow 27 feels like I am getting closer to that magic number 30. Not that I think anything magical is actually going to happen the day I turn 30; many have done it before me without major traumas, but you never know.
I think maybe the reason I started to think about it now is that I can feel certain changes in myself; in how I think and what I want from myself, my life, and my surroundings. There is nothing very special about my age at the moment, it’s not one of those numbers you make a big deal of. But in the end of the day, age in that aspect is really nothing more than a number, and it all depends on who is counting. I do however, for a while now, feel like a new path is being laid ahead of me, and maybe that is the age that really counts, for me at least. As I begin to walk on new roads, what ever they may be, and where ever they may take me, the most important thing is to take the right things with me, and leave the unnecessary things behind. Regardless of who we are, and how we see ourselves, and what we do in life, or if we actually like to travel or not, we are all backpackers deep inside. We go through life carrying our backpack with us everywhere. Some of us keeps too much of everything; the backpack becomes heavy, and the journey becomes hard. Some of us learn to pack light, and bring only what we need. The difficult part in this is to figure out what it is we need; what is important to bring, and what should we leave behind? Most likely this is something that varies through life, and between individuals, but for me, at this stage in my life, as I look back on the 26 years I have lived, these are 10 of the things I want to pack in my backpack for tomorrow’s journey.
1. Self acceptance
I feel much more accepting of myself as time goes. Instead of constantly trying to work against myself, and try to change myself into something I think I’m supposed to be, I am slowly realizing that I am exactly what I’m supposed to be already. Life becomes easier if I try to work with myself instead of against myself. We spend a lot of time telling each other to accept and respect all people, but before we can do that we need to accept ourselves. I am not perfect, I have many flaws. We should admit those flaws for what they are, and realize they are not a big deal, everyone has them, and somebody will love you for yours if you learn to love yourself first. I do mistakes. We need to know what mistakes look like in order to be able to tell them apart from a better or different way of doing things. Some things in me I cannot change, and I shouldn’t try to. We need to draw the line between what we can change and what we cannot.
2. Say ‘no’
Sometimes it is very difficult to say ‘no’, I always thought so, and sometimes we end up doing things we don’t feel like, or spend all day doing favors for people that will never give us the appreciation we are hoping for. We drain ourselves from energy, and we end up frustrated, because we feel we try so much but don’t really get what we want. It does not make anyone a bad person, but sometimes a lot can be saved by just saying ‘no’. The world will not fall apart if you don’t agree to work overtime for free, and your friend will not hate you for life if you don’t feel like going to the bar with him tonight. When we feel like we want to say ‘no’, we should just say no.
3. Say ‘yes’
Many of my best memories are from the situations that followed when I decided to say ‘yes’. As much as we need to learn to say ‘no’, we need to learn to say ‘yes’. Say ‘yes’ to all those things you think you are not sure of, because as soon as it’s not a definite ‘no’ it means there is a part of you that wants to say ‘yes’, listen to that part. By saying ‘yes’ we take more opportunities, and we get to experience more. In doubt about if to go on that spontaneous trip or not? Or if to go for that interesting but not so greatly paid job offer? Just say ‘yes’. Worst thing that will happen if you try is that you will realize later it was not for you, and you can move on to something else. Worst thing that can happen if you don’t try is that you can miss out on something great!
4. I have one life only
We only get one shot at life. Unless you believe in reincarnation of course. But just in case we really only have one shot, I say we should take good care of it. Everyone gets that one life, and it is ours to do what we want with. Would be such a shame if we spent that one thing that is truly our own on doing things we don’t want, or on trying to fulfill someone else dreams and wishes. Other people have their own life to spend on themselves, you are the only person with a life to spend on YOU. We never know when and how this precious life might be taken from us; it can be tomorrow, next week, or in 70 years. Until that happens we should take chances, jump on opportunities, follow our dreams, and do all those things we want to do, because we simply never know if we will ever get a second chance.
5. The feeling of complete freedom
One of the best and most exciting feelings I have experienced while traveling, and which I always wish to carry with me. A moment in my life when I was completely unattached. I had nowhere I needed to be, nowhere I needed to go, nothing I needed to go back to, no responsibilities, nobody I had to tell where I am going or when I will arrive. It was just me and my backpack, and open roads in any direction I felt like. I might never be in that exact same situation under those circumstances ever again, but that’s OK, I don’t have to. The important thing is that I took the opportunity to experience that.
It is a cliche, but I really think we have so much to gain from traveling. Traveling gives us the opportunity to see things from new perspectives, to see different realities, different ways of right and wrong. It gives us a chance to put our own life in perspective. I learned to appreciate many things that I was once blind to, and I learned to dislike some things that I used consider completely OK without questioning it. Traveling gives you the opportunity to meet many different people, with different backgrounds and cultures, and different ways of thinking. People that you can learn from and grow through. Traveling punches a whole in many stereotypical ideas we carry, and many pictures painted for us by media.
Life becomes easier if we learn to forgive, others as well as ourselves. Everybody makes mistakes, and sometimes people are simply assholes. Either way, one thing that is for sure, is that nobody has anything to gain from me going through life holding grudges against myself or anyone else. We think we punish that other person by being angry, but in the end of the day we are the only ones suffering. Grudges is one of those things that makes your backpack really heavy, they are one of the things we benefit from leaving behind. Forgive and move on.
8. Always look at the bright side
Another cliche, but honestly, even the darkest corner usually has a bright side. Sometimes we cannot see it right away, but it’s usually there. I believe we will usually find it in our mind. There will always be hard times, and sometimes things are just not easy. I believe the important thing to remember is that it’s like that for everyone, and for some more than others, and the only things that really makes a difference between us is how we choose to handle things. It’s all in our heads, we decide in which direction to take things. Sometimes when things seems extra hard, the best thing might be to take a step back, leave it, and then approach the problem from a different angle later on, we might just find the bright side.
I don’t think we always have to tell the whole truth, and everyone uses small lies now and then, and that might be all okay. However, one of the things I have realized is how important it is to be honest with yourself. It is sometimes a tricky thing to do, to figure out what it is we really want, but a good start might be to stop and really listen to yourself. I believe that the more honest we are with ourselves, the more honest we can be with our surroundings, and the more we might actually gain.
10. Think less, do more
I suffer from it along with many others; I think too much. I think and think and think, until I’ve turned things upside down and inside out, and viewed it from all angles, and then finally did not come up with any decision at all. I have realized that I can probably spend my whole life like that if I want, just thinking about stuff, never figuring anything out, while time just goes by. A much more effective way, I have noticed, is sometimes to just do. Some things we will just never know if they are right or wrong for us, or what we think about them, until we gave them a shot. And some things will just never get done if we go around wondering when and how it should be done, instead of just doing it. So far I have noticed that things tend to work out, I don’t need to have everything figured out in advance. Sometimes it’s better to just jump and then take it as it comes.