The One Thing I Wish I Knew in My 20’s

It was the shortest date I ever had. I invited a girl over to my apartment, but already 10 minutes in, I weirded her out.

I told her that, “to me nothing really matters”. I said it in a cocky “look at how cool I am” kind of way since I tried to come across super laid-back, when in reality, all I wanted was to make her like me. And that’s why I fucked up.

“How can you have nothing you care about? Don’t you have any values?!”, she said. She looked at me like I was the biggest loser. And for a second I even bought into this reality as well, which freaked her out even more.

Suddenly it mattered more to me what SHE thought of me and how SHE perceived me rather than what I thought of and how I saw myself. And because of this sudden and desperate urge to prove myself to her (and her values instead of mine) I said and did and do a lot of other strange crap.

Then she excused herself and left. And I never heard from her again.

I sat there feeling like a complete loser, being both angry at myself and sad at the same time. I couldn’t wrap my head around why I would so drastically change myself and the way I behaved around others, just to impress (or get the approval and the validation) of some random chick.

I spend so much time overanalysing this one random and unimportant incident, it still upsets me thinking back about it. I remember how my friends told me to let it go already as I was still talking about it weeks later and nobody wanted to hear it anymore.

But I couldn’t, because although I pretended that I “nothing really matters to me”, it did matter a lot whether she liked me or not. And she clearly didn’t.

And then I thought of all the other occasions in my life where I cared too much about stupid things like this one: 

  • The many more times when I thought it really matters to act differently around someone so she would like me and never leave me.
  • The many times when I thought it really matters that I win this argument. I have to prove them wrong. Because I am right. And they have to understand!
  • The many times were I felt it’s important to work on your weaknesses and improve them until nobody sees them as such anymore. It’s important to be socially accepted and fit into the masses.
  • That one time when I thought it really matters to say “no” to that one friend who decided to study in Spain for a semester and asked me to join, but I said I can’t, because I just recently got together with my new (now ex-)girlfriend, who I really liked and later broke up with and never saw again.
  • That many times where I felt it really matters that I take my education seriously and invest huge portions of my time and energy into gaining diplomas. Because I was sure they’ll allow me to find a better job and make more money. Only to find out later that nobody ever looks at your master’s degree. Ever.
  • The many times when I thought it’s really important to skip sleep to grow my app business on the side so I could finally quit my job and have more time and freedom again. So I can… sleep more?
  • The many times when I was living in the past feeling regret and pain, and the many more times when I was living in the future feeling anxiety and worry.

In your 20’s you think that everything you do somehow matters (or has to) and everything you worry about (you think) has huge implications on your near and distant future. And as you grow older you realize that none of that superficial crap does.

You’ll start asking yourself: “Will I care about this in one year from now?” And most of the times the answer is “no”. And then you begin to care less and less about these little mind-made things that we love to blow up into gigantic problems.

As you let go of all these illusions, you’ll also free yourself up again. To be who you are, like you are and where you want to be – without giving too many craps about how this behavior might be perceived by others.

Now I care about important things:

  • Like spending time with people I love.
  • Being OK with looking myself in the eyes and liking what I see.
  • Sharing positivity with the world, giving it a louder voice. Because everyone seems to excel at doing the opposite and someone has to join the underdog.
  • Supporting my little brother on his journey in this world, making it a little bit easier and less confusing than it was for me.
  • Being serious about life, yet not taking life too seriously.
  • Showing people what’s possible and going first if I have to, overcoming mind-made obstacles and limitations and teaching others to do the same.
  • Valuing experiences over currencies and never again falling into the trap of thinking the opposite is of any importance.
  • Focusing on how I feel right now over how I (might) feel in the future once I get this or that.

But then again I wonder…

“How will I feel about that in a couple of years from now… about the things that I feel are “really important” to me right now? Will I still care about them?”

Time will tell.

For now, it doesn’t matter.

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