It must be a special feeling to be half a century old and in deed it is. Being 22 suggests you are about to graduate from college, which is generally true, but this is not meant to be a commencement speech. If you are sweating inside a mine, an assembly line, a fast food outlet or joined the unemployed at an earlier stage, you are equally entitled to be part of my e-audience. In fact, this is also meant to be for those over fifty – they are the policy and decision makers who control our lives from early childhood to late retirement.
I have good news for you. It’s not too late and there is hope. This is not the time to shed tears, bite or point fingers. You may be happy and want more and you may be at a turning point uncertain what’s ahead. I may not have the perfect recipe and I do not claim a monopoly to the truth. What I can do is wish you all the best first and offer some ingredients next. You do not have to be 22, live in a certain country or speak English to read on!
- Seek the truth: for the truth shall set you free. We spend most of our life marketing – not only goods and services, but ideas, beliefs, feelings and interests. Do not fall victim to sales pitches or packaging. Shop around, ask questions and make informed decisions
- Question authority: this is not a call to arms to topple regimes, and authority is not limited to political and administrative structures. Authority may refer to the established norms, status quo or modes of thinking. Do not accept canned facts or boxed ways of thinking. Be original and innovative even if you end up swimming against the current and tweeting outside the flock. Commend the great and criticize the bad. Be an active agent for change and reform.
- Balance your rights and responsibilities: If everyone does their responsibilities very well, everyone’s rights would have already been delivered. After all, your rights are someone’s responsibilities. It is a very simplistic philosophy but it works.
- Take care of yourself: Your well being is very important and you should take care of your body, mind and heart. Stay healthy and never ignore your soul when you feed your stomach! Exercise, stay away from harmful substances and any wrongdoing.
- Do not be selfish: Be cooperative and help others. Two heads are better than one, so do give advice, and people do better when they work together, so give a helping hand. If you can’t do it physically, do not belittle a little prayer. Extend your citizenship to the far corners of the globe.
- Keep learning: life long learning is the essence of success. Never stop learning and educate yourself in different disciplines. Learn fast and embrace TVET (technical vocational education and training) besides academic knowledge. Make sure you erase or unlearn bad things as you go along.
- Embrace universal values and ethics: core ethical values like trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship are valued locally and globally. They will help shape your character and influence those around you.
- Be yourself: do not offer your brain for hire or live other peoples’ life. Discover the inner you and establish your own identity. Be a significant figure in society and stay original.
- Be social: I don’t mean using social media here – you may be on your way to become anti-social if you live all your life inside the social media jungle. Go out and meet real people. Feel their pain and share their happiness. Use social media as a tool and not an end. Be a real being!
- Work locally and think globally: you need to earn a living and should try to find the right fit. In the mean time, like what you do until you manage to do what you like. Be an entrepreneur and never confine your interests to your local region or country. The world is full of great problems waiting for great solutions. Your opportunity may be around the corner or a few thousand miles away.
- Never ignore your past but look toward the future as well and when you do, make sure you complete a circle – your opportunity may be on the other side of the route. You can’t rewind the past or travel back in time, so collect your experience and move forward with determination and hope.
- Volunteer: there is an inner satisfaction in setting aside part of your time or other resources for the general benefit of society or for a great cause. Not only it is worthy to do, but you will learn and network.
- Have fun: break the routine of life and entertain yourself. Practice your hobbies and travel around. This will remove boredom and add knowledge and wisdom.
- Add your own: this is not a comprehensive list. Readers are encouraged to add their own in the comments section.
#IfIWere22 I wish I knew then what I know now! Good luck to you all!