5 Things I Wish I Did When I Was 25

Perhaps you could learn from my regrets.



12/12/20215 min read

Previously published in Medium.

Once, I opened a question badge in my Instagram Stories, asking my followers if they had a question I could answer or any help needed from me. Andi asked if I have 10 things that I wish I did when I was 25 years old. It took some time for me to think until I had it set to these 5 (because I love my journey too much too, haha).

Shut my fussy mouth & just listen

To celebrate World Mental Health Day 2020, there’s an event held inside my community. The program is titled “Sis, I Want to Tell a Story …”. I have the role of an older sibling who listened to the speaker’s stories. Why me? The event initiator said because I empathized when listening to a story. Believe me, 7–10 years ago, of course, this could not have happened. 😂 In the past, my mouth was immediately open to respond to anything, I didn’t even need to let it pass the ear or stop in the mind. I just insisted without thinking if it’s true or false. My past principle was alike to a quote from Harvey Milk:

“Politics is theatre. It doesn’t matter if you win. You make a statement. You say, “I’m here, pay attention to me” ⁠.⁠

Little did I know, listening is (often) more fruitful than talking. If you want to think “a little cheeky” & even manipulative, there are interesting facts. Most people want to be heard. If I meet their need, try to imagine having “upper hands” against them? It’s cool and scary at the same time to have the power that people perceive as submissive and passive, isn’t it? Well, of course, it’s relative. It’s a fact that attentively listening and being present in conversations are powerful. How you will use this skill is another story. ⁠

Watch the one who gives (unsolicited) advice

After learning to listen to other people, it turned out the dangers were looming. I recognized that I need a filter to decide which opinion should be put in my mind and which don’t. Advice is good, but unsolicited advice is unnecessary, in my opinion. If anyone gives it, then I will take a good look at the one who gives the advice. Why? Because it speaks more about the adviser than other people. Many times, I also reflected on their attitudes & behaviours. If it’s aligned & consistent with what they said, then okay, it could be considered to be included in my mind. If not, sorry, I’ll skip, please. ⁠⁠

The filter helped me not to “take things too personally”, kept away from over-thinking and maintained my sanity. If I am sane, I feel happy easily. If I’m happy, it’s easier to be a gift to others. Makes sense, right?

Stop saying “I’ve already told you …”

Seven to 10 years ago, the phrase was my favourite. When saying it, I felt smart and satisfied in blaming the other person for not listening to me. Later, I questioned myself, what’s the point in saying it? I used to think that the person I spoke to would be feeling remorseful or apologetic. Sad but true, it only serves as a momentary dopamine hit for me, and does not mutually happen for another person.

When we make mistakes, we generally feel that something is wrong or odd. What‘s’ really needed in this context is evaluation and solutions, not rubbing the salt to the wound. Slowly I learned to be able to take a deep breath, look at the person and say “Okay, it happened. Let’s sort it out”.

Is it easy? Nope. But we could try. The surprising truth, some of them even became aware & remorseful by themselves quicker if I did not blame and still respected them. ⁠

⁠Another interesting fact: it is challenging to be applied in families, especially with children. I have a tendency to put more expectations on my children while it’s parallel to my patience stocks. But hey, I’m human and as I’m aware of it better now, I’ll continue to learn. ⁠

Take credit for all I did, not what I thought I’d done, not what I thought was good to be done

What does it mean? It’s about accountability. At the time I intended to work in the UK, I consulted with friends who have lived and worked in Norway for a long time. She emphasized one thing: “Take all credit for what you did Vin. Own it. There is no room for feeling awkward to achieve, like in Indonesia. Do likewise with your mistakes.” I didn’t ponder and just practised the message. The implication was bigger than I thought. I became accustomed to finishing work faster, without any excuses or procrastinating. If there is an error, I’ll confess it directly to my manager or related stakeholders, because I know I will not be scolded. It will go directly to “What’s the solution then?”. There are no more words “Yeah, I actually thought like that but …” or “I actually planned A, B, C, but …”. If you have an idea, be open, make the plan and execute it. If it’s not happening, it’s okay, but I don’t have a right to say and take any credit from it.

Of all things mentioned above, this seems to be the biggest regret. I really can’t imagine, if in my 25 years old I could be as accountable as this standard, whew… To be honest, it’s only a year of practice for now and it’s already brought me to many places & experiences.

It’s me, 25yo, the picture was candidly taken for sure
It’s me, 25yo, the picture was candidly taken for sure
25 years old me with my beautiful sister
25 years old me with my beautiful sister
Honour another’s time as I honoured mine.⁠

⁠When I was in college, being late was my middle name. I’m not proud of the fact, anyway. Perhaps, at that time, being on time was not important enough for me. As time goes by, I believed that time’s an undefeated contender, so I decided to befriend it. I respect it, respect other people’s time and mine. ⁠⁠

It’s the words of a 24-year-old friend, who spoke to me several weeks ago, who “slapped” me once again. He vented up, annoyed that someone else took his time too long and having an unclear conversation. “You know, she’s asking for my time. Time, who can’t come back again!” I know it’s not about me, but it hit so hard, the words lingered for a while. ⁠

It gave me the perspective of seeing other people differently. Let’s appreciate the attention given, their answers to our questions (it took their time to think about it, right?). Also for friends who spend 5–10 minutes just to do a rain check of you (because they could choose to do something else, anyway), especially our closest family (we can’t choose which family we’ll be born with, why should they choose to spend time with us?). It taught me to not take things for granted. ⁠

⁠So that’s it. Maybe not what you expect, but never mind. Take all of these with a grain of salt. If anything is useful, thank you, if not, it’s okay too. It’s fun, though. ⁠Haha.