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  • Taman Atwal

26 Lessons Learnt In 26 Years

This past July, amid the first wave of the pandemic I turned 26. It was not a milestone birthday like turning 18 and gaining my ‘adulthood’ license to life or turning quarter of a century and realizing that according to faux social standards, I’m actually behind on my accomplishments. But me being me, I like to treat every adult birthday as a milestone.


It’s no secret that growing up I struggled with my mental health, like 1 in 5 Canadian youth do according to a recent report by CAMH. That ultimately impacted the way in which I saw myself in the world and my worthiness, which sometimes led me down a dark path. Although I can’t say I’m 100% enlightened, every day is a little journey I actively take towards celebrating my worthiness. And so to remind myself of my growth, I decided to record my journey thus far and realized that my journey of twists and turns held so much more than just memories and moments to cherish, they held lessons that I learnt. I started to record my lessons from those special moments that I can’t say were good or bad, because ultimately, they’ve guided me and shaped me into the person I am today.


These are 26 lessons I learnt in my 26 years of living. It seems a bit vain to be writing specifically about my life lessons – but I hope that the lessons in this post can remind you of a lesson you’ve learnt or even be inspired enough to record your own lessons.



1. Stop waiting for the best time. Opportunities will be lost and the moment will not come back. For example I have waited too long in connecting with people because I want to be my best self (for them) and have a portfolio of accomplishments ready to impress them, despite my authentic self being enough for someone to have recommended that connection in the first place. My passion and drive was always what landed me the opportunity to begin with.


2. You do not need to be accomplished on paper to follow through on bringing your ideas and thoughts to life. We are creative beings; we constantly have ideas and some of them stick – don’t let a lack of credentials on your resume stop you from creating. Work on these ideas, do the research, develop them a bit more and pitch them to your circle. Experience is just the tip of the iceberg.


3. Keep people around you that encourage your growth and invigorate you to want to do more. Build your chosen family with you whom you share the utmost important values to you. It’s important for me that my chosen family to be composed of a group of folks that view the world through an equity and justice lens.


4. Support others. You are not losing any value when you choose to support and uplift your chosen family. Think about the way you would like your friends to come out for you and make sure you that you are also doing that for them.


5. If you want something…go after it. Don’t let the fear of the unknown stop you. Shoot your shot! Whether it be a new skill, a dream career, abolishing the system of capitalism or even a person you are crushing on. The resources are out there accessible and available ready for you to use and learn from!


6. You are successful in being you, there is no recommended age guideline that you have to follow. Success is subjective and timelines become arbitrary as well.


7. Be gentle with yourself. Change doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a gradually occurring process. Whether the change you want to see is personal or societal, I tend to get aggressive with it to see results fast. But we have to understand the game of sustainable change is not a sprint, it’s a marathon – we need to keep that endurance.


8. Trust in yourself the way that your chosen family trusts in you. I have a tendency to let fear of not being good enough also known as imposter syndrome rule my world but it’s an everyday reminder to have the same conviction in my abilities as everyone does for me.


9. EVERYTHING YOU DO – DO IT WITH LOVE. Otherwise, it will become burdensome. I’m talking about passion projects and societal change. To avoid exhaustion in the long run, constantly evaluate whether the end results of your actions bring joy to you and the world. If it doesn’t, Marie Kondo it out of your life.


10. Don’t take your chosen family for granted. Don’t speak ill of them when they’re not there, if they hurt you be open with them. Appreciate them and get them little gifts or send them messages. If you know you will appreciate it, your friends will too.


11. The folks that surround you should be the ones you can be your authentic self with. If you cannot be your whole amazing badass self with someone, ask yourself if they are really providing any value to you or if they’re keeping you repressed.


12. Words are powerful. Speak only kind words to yourself and to others. Affirmations work and your thoughts will manifest.


13. Be open to change. When you’re open to change all the opportunities you could have dreamed about will come flooding to you!


14. Be honest with yourself. Too often we are hurting ourselves by not knowing what we have to heal from. The first step to healing is identifying the problem. I have a tendency to keep certain thoughts very censored even from myself which inhibits the ability to actually confront it and grow from it.


15. Establish your moral compass. Most decisions you make in your life are going to have ethical and moral dilemmas attached to them. But this is something no one can help you decide because morality and ethics are so subjective to the individual and their experiences.


16. SAY NO – for the love of god please say no to things you do not want to do. You will burn yourself out and carry resentment. Two things that will hold you back in this marathon. I understand that sometimes its seductive to say yes to things because this person with influence might help you in the future or because you don’t want to disappoint someone. At the end of the day all of that doesn’t matter if you are carrying this negativity. It’s only going to weigh you down.


17. You don’t have to work on loving yourself – you have to learn to love being yourself. There is a slight but significant change in both phrases. When you are working on loving yourself – you are still doing things to fit that perfect vision of who you think yourself is vs when you love being yourself, you are accepting all that is currently you.


18. This lesson is connected to the last, being self-aware of yourself, and in tune with who you are. Check in on yourself on a regular basis and see how your actions are impacting yourself and others. It could be in the shower you take before bed, Where you reflect on the good and the bad that happened during the day and how you can make sure that the things that are in your control go better tomorrow.


19. Open communication. When you are hurting and you know who contributed to it, please share it with them. It does NOT have to be an argument but just a conversation on why you felt hurt because it’s very likely that that person might be unaware of how their actions bothered or hurt you.


20. Hurt people hurt people. Knowing this, do not use it as an excuse to hurt people. Come from a place of empathy, even for those that do you wrong. Going back to lesson 19, be open with them if they have. If that is not something you can do, create a layer of boundaries for that person and if possible don’t allow them into your lives.


21. Pay creatives for their work! If you are in a good financial position invest into your local arts and culture scene, invest in your friends and pay them what you can whenever you can for work. If you don’t have the finances you can always repost, reshare and recommend local artists to your networks.


22. UNLEARNING IS A PROCESS, it’s okay to take your time with it. The person we are today is a reflection of the society and upbringing we’ve had thus far. That being said, it’s going to take a lot of work to undo how every many years of conditioning that we have lived through. So be patient with yourself and with others around you.


23. Prepare beforehand – because doing everything last minute is just not possible. So instead of sitting in your bed stressing about the next day. It’s better to just have the most you can have prepared. This also means being prepared for the onslaught of traffic, so leaving your home early enough accounting for the possibility that you might get stuck at a red light or two.


24. A message delivered with kindness goes much further than when said in a panicked or rude tone. It moments of stress and anxiety its easy to lash out on the people that your comfortable with, but they didn’t do anything to make you feel the way that you are. Even to strangers, be kind.


25. Invest in yourself. Track you finances and invest in what is going to improve your quality of life. It’s okay to have the occasional $100+ night out, but then why is it so hard to buy a laptop or a subscription to a necessary application that is going to make work easier for you and have more lasting impacts.


26. Spirituality is at the center of everything. You are the multiverse and the multiverse is you. Nothing can come in the way when you have connected and centered with your source energy. For many this energy is called god – for me it is Waheguru. Being in tuned with your spirituality will bring you so much peace and on some level make you invincible.



Thank you for taking your time to read all of these. I hope there were some that you resonated with and take and apply to yourself. Even if that is not the case I hope it inspires you to write a list of your own! I appreciate you.



Peace & Love ~ Taman




Photo Credits: https://unsplash.com/@sixteenmilesout

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