Dear No One: 20 lessons from a 20-year-old

Dear No One, 

Turning twenty is – apparently – a big deal.

You leave your teenage years behind and officially enter adulthood. You embark on your third decade on this planet. You continue growing up. And with growing up come life lessons. 

So, here’s twenty things I learnt before my twentieth birthday last december. 

1. Taking a break is a-okay. I have mastered 7:30-22 working days without a break, which, sure, is doable. But I forgot how nice it was to sit down and take half an hour for lunch. You’ll be surprised at how much more energy you’ll have if you just. Take. A break. 

2. A consistent sleeping schedule literally changes your life. This is probably something you’re tired (pun intended) of hearing, but I cannot stress enough how true it is. 

3. Not everything or everyone is supposed to last forever. Not everyone you do something fun with needs to become your best friend. Sometimes, sharing a love for that one meme that you keep revisiting is enough. Especially if it’s science memes you only partially understand. 

4. It’s okay to be a 20-year-old and still afraid of the dark. Really. You wouldn’t be the only one. 

5. Pears are – and will forever be – disgusting. I am fully aware that your taste palette changes throughout the years, but I have literally never eaten something with pear that did not make me want to spit it out. 

6. Your comfort food isn’t restricted to bad days. Eat that stuff whenever you want. The jar of Calvé pindakaas in my kitchen is easily accessible for a reason. It’s so I can eat from it. Every. Day. 

7. Hobbies are hobbies, not jobs. You don’t have to monetize everything you love, and you don’t have to be good at everything you enjoy doing. Really. That’s why I never post my drawings, even though they’re a hobby of mine. 

8. Practice makes improvement. Maybe this is just the cynic in me talking, but perfection is hard – if not impossible – to reach. It’s very likely that you’ll never achieve it. But as long as you keep getting better, it’s worth the practice. (Again, my drawings may get better, but they’ll never be… worth publishing, to put it kindly.)

9. The Netherlands doesn’t actually suck that much. Sure, it isn’t perfect (far from it, in fact), but at least it’s a good start, right? 

10. You have the right not to forgive people. Just like they have the right not to forgive you. Sometimes you hurt someone in a way that you cannot make up for. Just make sure not to do it again. 

11. People don’t actually care if you’re obsessed with a children’s series. In fact, most people seem to think it’s kinda cute that I dedicate at least two hours a day to a book series originally intended for 8-12 year olds. 

12. Savings do not equal investments. And most of all the other things you learned in Principles of Economics are also incomplete, incorrect, and inexact. Apparently. 

13. You don’t owe your younger you anything. Don’t be afraid to give up on lifelong dreams if they’re not your dreams anymore. I recently realised that maybe, I don’t want to be a published author after all. Maybe I’m just still saying that because it’s what I have been saying since I was six years old. 

14. A tumblr incorrect quote of a viking-like character saying “if the guy wants to fight I’ve got it covered from A to Z: from axe to zee other axe” was peak comedy and nothing will ever be as funny. 

15. Please learn how to prepare food. 12-year-old me expressed the wish to earn enough money to never have to cook. Well, 20-year-old me does not yet earn enough money for that. So please, please, please, learn to make at least a few things without almost burning down the kitchen. (Yes, that almost happened. No, I was not making something complex. I was making eggs.)

16. People who don’t accept the possibility of pineapple on pizza are the most dedicated, passionate, but also the most aggressive people you’ll ever meet. Speaking from experience. (If there’s any uncertainty: Hawaiian pizzas are my personal go-to and even though I’m not among “the most dedicated, passionate, and aggressive people you’ll ever meet”, I will fight you on that.)

17. Numbers do matter, just not as much as you think. Listen. Numbers do matter. Some grades are good enough, others are not. So caring about numbers? That’s fine. Just don’t let yourself get obsessed with them. A six is really, truthfully, genuinely, all you need. (Feel free to point out the hypocrisy next time I complain over a 7.5.)

18. Everyone, always, appreciates a compliment. Don’t be afraid to hand out some more. 

19. “Because I don’t want to” is a valid excuse. In most cases, you don’t owe anyone an explanation for not wanting to do something 

20. Find something – anything – that makes you smile and treasure it. (Even if it’s a children’s series originally intended for 8-12 year olds.) As long as there’s always at least something that will bring the biggest and brightest smile to your face. 






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