23 Things I’d Tell My 23 Year Old Self.

Have you ever sat down somewhere, somehow reflecting on the years that have gone by before your eyes? Like, “Wow, this was that long ago?”

The naivety, the missed opportunities, the regrets. If you had a chance to go back to your younger self, what would you tell him/her?

1.Study hard & smart

When it comes to studying, you hear this every single time. Study hard! 

So that you can get excellent grades (Straight As, typical Asian parenting standards), to get to top schools, to have a better shot at securing a job that pays you well. *coughs* engineers and doctors *coughs* and the list goes on.

Well, I’d personally say this to my 23 year old self. Study hard and smart.

My definition of studying hard is to be disciplined in whatever you are studying.  It is not the extreme long hours you put in to memorise class notes or read past year examination answers. It is not the how long you stay up at night to study for an examination. It is merely, how you dedicate yourself to study. You have study weeks for a reason! Plan your personal timetable.

Study smart. This is all about method. It is not how well entirely how well you can memorise your simplified notes or past year examination answers. It is more than that! It requires a broader knowledge than your textbook. You need to think! Relate what you read in your textbook with your logical thinking and latest news around the world. Business news, environmental news, financial news. This will impress your examiner and you’d be surprised by the results you can get.

Therefore, please put the internet to good use and spend some time to browse through the latest news or interesting topics that are trending right now.

2. Ask questions

You definitely had times when your lecturer asks a question and most of you just tilt your head down or ignore the lecturer. Right? I used to be one of those culprits and I regretted it.

Let’s put it this way:

When you really want to know something, would you rather remain quiet and keep guessing or go get an answer?
For example, (attention, guys) if you are very attracted to this girl in your class and you want her to be your prom date, would you want to approach her and ask or allow the other guy to ask her out while you beat yourself in regret? 

Well, you would never know the answer because you never asked! Get my point?

Jokes aside. This applies in your daily life. In a lecture room and even in a workplace. Trust me, the habit of asking questions will help you adapt faster in a workplace. Hence, I came up with a conclusion. You will only get what you ask for. 

3. Ignore the doubters

In your life, you will have doubters from time to time. You tell them, you want to accomplish your dreams, do this, do that, whatever they may be. 

Doubters will tell you, you won’t be able to do it. It’s impossible. It’s too hard.  Well, ignore them. They are not you. It is very likely that they are intimidated of what you are able to do. The most important thing is you do not doubt yourself. Your inner voice is important because as you think, you will become.

  • Michael Jordan did not make his high school basketball team. What did he become?
  • Jack Ma wanted to study in Harvard. He was rejected. What did he become?
  • Albert Einstein was not able to speak until the age of 4 and his teachers said he will be never be good at anything. What did he become?

4. Be nice to people

Well all have our off days. Days when we just cannot control our emotions. We are imperfect humans after all. In saying so, everyone you meet is fighting a battle of their own. So, please be nice to the people around you. You do not know their story. The world does not revolve around you. Some are good at wearing masks. If you think that your life is a misery, lift your head up and look around you carefully.

5. Do things for yourself

Often times, you do things because you are told. Without really knowing the reason. I mean, going back to the schooling years, did you really know why you were told to study so hard? What courses you wanna take?

Basically, you just listened to your parents, right? To get good grades, go to a good university, get a lucrative job. I’m sure you’ve asked yourself questions about it. 

  • Why am I doing this?
  • Is it what I really want?
  • Am I really happy with what I are doing now?

People, in general, might have an idea of what you should be doing and what’s good for you. But do you feel the same or do you just follow what they say because you are feeling lost? Or maybe, even feel obliged to follow because those are what your parents want you to do?

I am not saying you ignore the advises your parents or close friends give you. The fact is that, this life is yours and not anyone else’s. Be brave enough to live it. This leads me to #6.

6. Go with your gut

There are a lot of uncertain things in life but decisions need to be made. All I can say is the typical go with your gut. Really. There are just some things that you cannot have enough reasons (good or bad) to help you make a decision. And, sitting there thinking too much about it won’t help you either.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not telling you to not take calculated risks.  But aside from the mind and logic, do you feel that intuition? An instinct you feel rather than rational reasoning? Sometimes, you have to take a leap of faith and follow that. You don’t know at which turn your life is about to change. At worst, take it as an invaluable experience. As long as it doesn’t get you killed, literally.

Failure isn’t permanent. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Fail better.  You fall, you stand up. It is what we basically do. Observe a baby, learning to walk. Your failures (depending on how you define it), is not permanent. What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.

Don’t be that hard on yourself but promise yourself to persevere. Draw motivation from your failures, inspiration from successful people. This is because, they were also failures at one point in their respective lives. It is safe to say passion is the secret ingredient. Find your passion.

7. Define your success and failure

Success and failures are yours to define, along with your life. 

Ask ten people around you, you will most likely get ten different definitions of success and failure. It all depends on their dreams or personal goals. Some will focus on materialistic things and social status, while some, merely want to travel the world, learn about different cultures and meet new people.

Never let someone else’s definition of success and failure affect you and what you do. Guard your perspectives like gold.

8. Set personal/life goals

Life does not wait for you. It is like a one way train ticket.  It is actually your duty to live it as fully as possible. So, take out a piece of paper. Write down what you have always dreamt of doing and slowly work towards it. Rome was not built in a day!

In a way, such goals can be your pillar. When you had just gone through bad day at work, sit down somewhere. Remind yourself of your goals. Imagine yourself achieving them. Really, just immerse yourself in the thoughts. Then you restart your engine. Give yourself purpose and mental strength.

You do what you need to do to enable yourself to do what you want to do.

9. Have confidence in yourself

Remember the inner voice I mentioned in #3? 

That’s it. Talk to yourself more but in a good way. It is vital as to how you programme yourself. It also shows from little things like body language. However, there is no doubt, negativity will creep in once in a while. It really depends on how you look at it. 

10. As I would remind myself, you can be your own worst enemy. Therefore, be mindful of it.

Building your confidence can also be learnt. You just need to be brave enough to face your insecurities. A mirror does magic when it comes to building your confidence.

11. Step out of your comfort zone

Stepping out of your comfort zone will never be easy.


Because we’re will be clueless. We will be in doubt. We will be scared. There will come a time when we will question ourselves of our comfort zone. Do we want to settle or do we want to cross the line? Particularly, when it concerns life decisions. For instance, switching jobs, moving away from home or travelling to a foreign country in which you do know their language.

Well, when you come to such a point, think wisely and do it. Your life way more than what you’re doing now. Worst case scenario, its called experience!

12. Dress up

Dressing up and looking good once in a while is not a crime. At school, at work and especially during hang out sesh(s)!
Get your swagga’ game up!

In fact, dressing up will boast outlook and your confidence. It leaves an impression. It shows how you value yourself outwardly, how you conduct yourself. I do believe once in a while, you wanna look good and impression a particular person, right? Most importantly, remember to be yourself while being at it.

13. Build connections

Building connections in your varsity days, in particular, are crucial. Keep this in mind. Varsity days are days that you’re supposed to expand yourself instead of merely sticking by the book.

For the duration of your pre-graduation, you are able to meet people form various walks of life. You will get to know their unique background, skills and insights. Furthermore, you will be presented with loads of social activities and what not in university. Be it an introvert or extrovert, find a club or activity that you are interested. Join in! What’s there to lose?

University days are days to explore without much to worry about except for your certificate. Make use of it. You may not see it now but you will come to realise someday, your connections will help you grow or be successful.

14. Find ways to express yourself

There will be dark days and you will feel like breaking yourself up, letting it out. Well, find a suitable medium or channel to do so. Go for a long run, go for martial arts, write your feelings out. That way, you will be able to pin point what’s wrong and it’ll be your map to correct what’s wrong. Stop keeping everything compressed inside. You’ll implode and do silly things as a result. Find a healthy way to express yourself.

15. Keep your phone/laptop away

In this day and age, technology is literally everything. Laptops and smartphones have long become a necessity. Everything is in that small, thin device of yours. You get hooked.

Yes, there are tons of things made available because of technology. The latest news, reading materials, shopping and entertainment, all within a tab of the screen. However, please set a limit to such activities. Once in a while, it’s healthy to keep your MacBooks or iPhones away from you. For instance, after working hours or when you’re about to sleep. Respect yourself enough to have time to appreciate the little things life.

Lift up your head once in a while.

16. Take care of your body

Your youth only comes once in your life. As you age, everything slows down and it’ll hit you. Of course, you may feel rather invincible during your youth but it is actually time to take care of health and body. It is for your to maintain a long, happy life after retiring. It will also save you quite an amount of money along the way.

17. Be more alert about my money

It is during your 20s that you are starting your life. You’ll be earning for a living with all the youthful energy you have in you. That is why you should start to manage your finances during this decade. You’ll have commitments, emergency situations, travel goals and maybe soon, a family to take good care of. As you age, your responsibilities will grow along with it.

Be more alert about your money or it might come back to bite you soon enough.

18. It’s okay to feel lost

Remember that life is full of uncertainties. That is why it is an adventure. Take it as a plain canvas and you’re the painter. It is okay to feel lost. We all are, in our own ways.

Make up a plan, work towards it. However, need it remind you that life will not go as planned, most of the time. Yes, it will not go as planned but you will get to the place you’re meant to be. It is the journey, not the destination that counts.

19. Don’t compare

Comparison is toxic. Do not compare with your peers. Not in your academic achievements or even your materialistic possessions. Comparing doesn’t prove or solve anything. Just be yourself and set your own personal goals to reach. Also, remind yourself to be grateful with what you already have. Some people aren’t that fortunate.

20. Life is hard

Life will be a bitch to you from time to time. It is not to be taken for granted. Not a single successful person got where he/she is without going through hardship. When the going gets tough, you get tougher. Gear yourself up properly. Surround yourself with the people that can help your self-enrichment. Go through Youtube and books to keep you going.

Why? Because there may well be where your motivation and inspiration lies. Look into successful people and pick their brain, their mindset, behaviour and what not.

When you decide to fall, allow yourself to lay there and rest. However, you have to promise yourself to regroup and…Keep going! When you reach the end line, it’ll be sweet.

21. Enjoy the little things in life

In the midst of you being busy doing your routine activities or feeling down, remember to stop for a minute or two and look around you. The small things and moments in your life may count to something when you are blinded by darkness. Go for a walk at the park, sit down in a cafe, play your Spotify or text your friend that you have not contacted in a while. It’ll be refreshing, in a sense.

22. You are what you become, not where you come from

You may not decide where you come from or your family background but you are the captain of your life. Don’t blame anyone for your shortcomings or why you are not where you want to be. In general, people can only do this much to guide you and help you. The rest is up to you. *Useful tip: Remember point #13?

All things start with you. Accept the fact but don’t settle. Challenge the fact.

23. Sometimes, it the journey that counts

All in all, through your struggles and achievements, you will one day sit at the corner of somewhere looking back. After all the things that you’ve gone through to get to your destination, the journey is the best memory. So, how is the story do you want to tell your grandchildren?

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