Beirut Notebook: 23 things I’ve learned in 23 years

It’s always a good idea to travel
by Paula Naoufal

14 July 2017 | 09:14

Source: by Annahar

  • by Paula Naoufal
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 14 July 2017 | 09:14

The author second from left with her friends on a visit to Cedars during snow season.

1. It’s always a good idea to keep an agenda

As I grew older, I had more responsibilities, more work, and more things to juggle. Keeping an agenda was a must for me to remember all the things I had to do, whether it was to attend a meeting or see my friends over dinner.

2. Time management is everything

Having to juggle a million things at once, whether it was my overlapping internships, part time jobs, family, club, or friends, I had to learn how to manage my time.

3. It’s always a good idea to travel

“You’ll have plenty of time to rest in the grave” is a quote I function by. Being in my 20s, I know that later on in life things will be even more hectic. So now while I am able to have a bit of free time, managing my time, I always believe it’s a good idea to travel.

4. Traveling alone is a must

I learned that traveling alone makes you grow as a person and makes you more independent, wise, and tolerant of other cultures. I visited Florence, the city of love by myself, and it was nurturing and mind enriching.

5. Act out of your comfort zone

As cliché as it sounds, life is actually too short and is very fast paced. Time flies by so quickly, thus taking random decisions outside my comfort zone opened new doors and interests for me.

6. All this while following my gut instinct

I have learned that my 6th sense is, most of the time, right. I learned mostly to follow my instinct. If I have a bad feeling about something, I would simply not go for it, and most of the times I would see that I shouldn’t have done that thing.

7. This has helped me learn that everything happens for a reason

There is an Arabic saying to “never hate any occurrence since it probably happened for the best.” A longer time ago, I though this was saying to soothe people for disappointments, but as time passed by I learned that this saying was tremendously meaningful.

8. Its okay to be selfish sometimes

Sometimes, decisions that are best for oneself are a must to take, surely without hurting other people. Being selfish occasionally is okay, because at the end no one cares about me more than I do.

9. Worship alone time

Being quite the social extrovert and being a social butterfly, I learned that alone time was to be worshiped. Thus, it’s okay to turn off your phone and social media and just have some alone time. This alone time is needed to learn, reflect, and understand life. Sometimes this alone time is also for serenity and quiet amidst all society.

10. Its okay to mess up as long as you learn

Messing up is totally fine, because without learning from our own mistakes we would never grow as people. Surely, sometimes it is better to avoid mistakes if foreseen, but if a mistake already happened lingering onto it won’t do any good. Instead one must take the lesson learned from it.

11. There is always space for brain improvement

Now matter how old someone is, there is always space to learn a new hobby, talent, or generally improve the brain. Two years ago, I knew nothing about politics, now all I do is read and write political articles. I have also taught myself over the years to study body language and psychology, although I have never taken a university course. This has all brought me to believe that a person can always improve their intellect if they want to.

12. Learning new languages

Studies have proven that not only children can learn languages from scratch fluently. Also several scientists have discussed that languages expand the brain’s intellect. I have taught myself Spanish over the years, and I’m currently learning Italian. My aim is to know seven languages by the time I’m 27, therefore, three more to go.

13. Questioning everything

Surely some things are facts, but a tremendous amount of things are not as clear as they are. In order to know the truth and to expand knowledge one must question everything around, surely not at the point of overthinking and destroying themselves. But it is crucial not to be gullible.

14. It is crucial to keep with your health

As we grow older, we are at more risk of having diseases and a lower immune system. Taking care of my health was crucial, especially after a traumatic car accident I had last year. Check up and follows up are always beneficial

15. Stand up for what you believe in, even if you’re standing alone.

It definitely is hard to fight peer pressure. But if when I believed in a cause, or and felt that something is worth fighting for, I’ll feel better in the long run knowing that even when everyone else turned their backs, I held my ground and spoke my mind.

16. Judgment is inevitable.

There will always be someone who has something bad to say regardless if you’re saint or a sinner. Judgment can hurt but the best thing to do is ignore it.

17. Let go of people who aren’t of added value and positive energy

If felt someone is dragging me down and complication my life, I believe I had every right to let them go. That isn’t being self conceited, on the contrary one should be surrounded by people who are of added value in order that they can reciprocate so they can grow wiser together.

18. But never forget what you learned from these past relationships

I did not only learn from my past mistakes, but I learned tremendously from my past relationships; whether it was friendships that did not serve me or any sort of relationship, I learned enormously.

19. Never stress over things that cannot be controlled

It is vital to do everything in my power to achieve good and do the things that I want. But it is also key once I have done everything I can to not stress over situations in my life that I cannot control.

20. Being single

At 23, I have seen a tremendous amount of my friends getting married or engaged. Honestly, I have learned to enjoy being single and not even bother explaining that that is how I wanted it to be for now. I will not settle just because everyone else is, I have so much more to achieve before I take the decision to share my life with someone else, and I don’t even know which continent I will be in in a couple of years.

21. Listening actively to others

Other opinions, cultures and conversations enrich people. Whatever conversation it might have been, I always left knowing more. Also, being tolerant of others is essential to being understanding and patient, two key characteristics that are hard to achieve and have a positive effect on one’s life.

22. Who I was at 20 doesn’t define who I am at 23

Simply put, mentalities change, and mine did as I explored more of life.

23. Its okay to be 23 and grow older

It is really okay to grow older, life does actually get tougher but it surely gets better.

My dreams, and ambitions could be fulfilled here, but what I do now is that, right now, I’m having the time of my life.


Annahar’s "Beirut Notebook" in an ongoing series of personal essays, from our readers, citizen journalists, and our own correspondents, on their life experiences, ranging from work, travel, encounters, Lebanon living, solutions, fashion, cuisine, culture, family, tech, sport, study, and more. No politics, just Life..

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