TED Conversations

Morgan Bakies

Summer co-op, LyondellBasell

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If you could give your twenty-year-old self one piece of advice, what would it be? Why?

Hello! I'm an undergraduate student who was truly inspired by Meg Jay's talk, "Why 30 is not the new 20" so I wanted to see what the TED community has to say. I turned twenty in March and I want to make the most of my next decade of life. How did you spend your twenties? Was this the defining of your life? Currently, I see endless opportunities, but I'm scared for the day they will disappear.

So if you're above twenty, what advice do you have for your past self? If you are twenty-something, what do you tell yourself everyday to be the best you can be? And if you're under twenty, what's one thing that you hope your twenty-year-old self will remember about adolescence? Thank you so much and I look forward to seeing what you have to say!

  • May 27 2013: Be confident. Act on your ideas, not on your fears. If you can't escape from your fears, get help.
    Trust your instincts. Don't stay in jobs and relationships you don't like - you don't have to. Make ten year, five year, one year, six month, one month, one week and one day plans, but have fun - life is short. Take your dreams seriously.
    All this I would tell my 20 year old self, because that is what she needed to hear, but you might need to hear something else. That's the thing!
  • May 20 2013: I think Steve O. nailed it; make a conscious decision to be happy. Society (media, etc.) will do everything in its power to convince you that personal happiness is dependent on something (formal education, career, money, marriage, children) outside of yourself; it isn't. It is dependent on the conscious choice to get up every day and decide to be happy. In turn, the ripple effect of this is a condition of life so improved as to be unrecognizable from your former deluded state of happiness being dependent on "whatever". (Don't get me wrong: having some education is better than not having it, having some form of a "career" is generally a good thing, and having enough money to live comfortably is nice, etc., etc.; BUT none of these externalities CREATE happiness or a sense of satisfaction.)

    Along this vein and on a more practical note I do think one of the more common "errors" of youth is to hook up with the wrong partner in an attempt to complete oneself. What I know at the age of 49 is that no one else completes you; you complete yourself and once you realize this, you are then capable of having healthy relationships with other more fully self-responsible humans.
  • May 20 2013: Make a conscious decision to be happy. Care about others and show them by listening. Reflect on your purpose regularly, but don't dwell on it.
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    May 18 2013: let it go, holding on is not worth it. you have more than you think, choose to enjoy the journey, risk it all, you can't lose that much. smile.
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    May 18 2013: Love your self, if by the age of twenty you have discovered or unveil your talents then you are in great shape, feel confident to follow your passion and get real on your expending, be kind and when things do not go well don't blame it on your kindness, it is good to be independent but is better in life to be generous. Travel, travel. travel,
    like I say .. "We have to take life like a long term project!
    Don't do drugs, period!!!!
  • May 30 2013: 1.Stay grounded: At this day and age it is so easy to get sucked into manmade gizmos and gadgets that we forget (this is so cliché but true) that the most amazing things in life are free.There is so much to explore in nature and plus, it is so powerful for positive and creative mind flow.

    2.Reflect on your thoughts (journal): because you are your own best friend and you will learn to stay insightful; and because to know and love yourself can be truly liberating. This is key to self-growth-- never let anyone or anything stop you from growing or changing from doing what is best for yourself, even if it is out of your comfort zone to do so.

    3.Make time for your family and friends: It gets tough to find time when you’re constantly viewing your calendar and are so focused on meeting your goals. Setting goals are always good but remember not everything in time will be there forever. Be in the present moment and cherish it.

    4.Have no regrets: Do not spend your days thinking about what would’ve, could’ve or should’ve; it can become SUCH a drag. It is not the healthiest for the mind as it just becomes exhausting. If you find yourself doing it more than often, rewire the way you think. Rewire your tendencies to want to loathe and instead be appreciative. Do this until it becomes second nature and move on.

    5.Surround yourself with good people: They will be your teachers and help guide you as you grow, to be there along the way as you change. Never limit yourself to “types” of people you acquaint yourself with because everyone is different; and there is always something to learn with every new person you meet.

    6.Be creative:Any expression of love is an art form in itself. Practice it and you will be grateful.

    7.Stay healthy:Stay active and eat well, because your mind and body will be happier and the world around you will never feel more real. Break your bad habits; you know you can do it; you are the only one that can tell yourself that you need to quit!

    - J A
  • May 18 2013: Whilst the talk was informative.. at 49 it made me feel the last 10 years of my life were meant to happen in my twenties. Wrong twenties is not the only stage where you evolve through experiences, some of us have experiences and life changing events later and others earlier in life.

    Life in your twenties is the start of your in to adulthood and on a journay where you get to make your own choices, connections, learning and growth...

    Don't give up if you are not able to meet the challenges that are thrown at you in your twenties, they make you stronger.
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    May 26 2013: What I eventually learned is that decisions, seemingly insignificant ones, alter the trajectory of one's entire life - and the decade of the twenties is THE crossroad of life. Jump INTO life (don't simply let it happen to you). Stretch out, reach out, think out-(side the box).

    Establish new friendships,adding to the old; find a career which makes you happy- and then it will not become 'work'; don't be afraid to travel - it can give you perspective and insight.

    Try to resist the thought pattern..."I'll worry about it later"... as it is THE most undermining there is.

    Make a family (in whatever sense that is meaningful to you) - genuine connection with other human beings is what life is all about, and it provides a sheltering that is crucial to your happiness and well being.

    Be aware of the natural world around you - it has so much to teach, and has a grounding influence in a world that has gone mad.

    Have goals and be true to both them and you.

    Don't settle.
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    May 25 2013: Always be true to yourself, trust your inner guide - do not live life for someone else's benefit (i.e. don't make decisions to please your friends, parents or anyone else - they will love you no matter what) Follow your passion and enjoy the journey it takes you on.

    P.S. I'm 47 and realize you will always have endless opportunities, no matter how old you are if you keep your mind and heart open to them.
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    May 25 2013: And yea, don't try so many drugs. They are never really worth it, the experiences can never be relied on as true, and you will never know who you would have been without them.
  • May 20 2013: Realize that what you do now, who you love now, and what you study now ALL contribute to who you become. What you start doing now becomes a habit. So take care of your body and your mind: whether you do good things for your physical well-being now can mean the difference between feeling great most of your life or needing multiple joint replacements or daily insulin when you're 40 or 50 or 60. Choose relationships with good people that honor your gifts and treat you right: getting involved with the wrong person can stunt you in so many ways, but the right person truly wants you to succeed and grow. Finally, study what you are passionate about because it can become a career that feeds your mind and your soul. And remember you never know who will be in a position to give you an opportunity down the road...so be the kind of person that is remembered fondly 20 years later. And most important: marry your best friend.
  • May 17 2013: Positive energy, hard work, diligent completion of assignments, and confidence will take you far. Be your own advocate. Look to solve problems and avoid creating them. Plan ahead, be proactive and ...oh yea, listen and take notes, with dates and names.

    Smile, learn names, and try to be happy and enjoy life.
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    May 16 2013: in all seriousness, i would say "don't listen to me"
  • May 16 2013: The experience you will need to "find/create yourself" will be gained in your twenties in which you will realize at 29 you truly need not do or be anything other than you. Enjoy the ride. Feel it ALL. Say yes. Say no. Speak UP but listen WELL. What I know for sure is the strength you will need for anything that comes you're way already resides within you.
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    May 16 2013: Think. Listen. Relax. Think. Get balance. Think. Don't run. Think. Review. Listen. Listen. See, watch, seek. Listen. Dont run, don't stop. Understand. Help.
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    May 16 2013: Never ever hurt yourself. you are your biggest saviour.
  • May 29 2013: Learn to understand that life is the product of your decisions not your conditions, and that your ability to make good decisions are ruled by your thinking and believes about yourself and the world.

    This cannot be better said than:

    "Whether you think you can, or you think you can't -- you're right.”
    ― Henry Ford

    If you want to change your life -- start with changing your thoughts.
  • May 29 2013: I am 26 and loving the feeling of standing at the edge of a canyon ready to jump into new versions of my self! Having passed the half way mark of the twenties, here are some thoughts....

    1. Fine tune a strong sense of self awareness. Figure out what makes you tick. What are you good at? What are you not so good at? Focus on your strengths. A mentor once told me to "Find where your gifts fit a need in the world." I love taking personality tests like Meyers Briggs, StrenghtsFinders, True Colors and the Enneagram. They really help you see yourself from the outside in. When you know yourself, it s much easier to see when you are and are not in the right path.

    2. Take lots of time to reflect. It is hard to see where you are going if you don't stop an take the long view every once and a while. Get comfortable with being alone. It is a sign of knowing and loving yourself. Journaling or blogging is a great way to do this. I've gone back and read my journal from when I was 22 and my mind was blown when I realized I had achieved almost everything I wanted in a way I could have never imagined.

    3. Be open to change and the unexpected. Odds are what you expect will happen, won't. Some of the greatest opportunities are something you'd never expect. Get more comfortable with uncertainty - gone are the days when life is planned out for you - middle school to high school. High school to college. Make your own path.

    4. Ask lots of questions and make many friends. You are young and everyone loves the well channelled exuberance of a twenty something who knows they are standing on the edge of the rest of their life. I can not tell you how many times this quality opened up doors for me. Ask for advice. People love to share their knowledge with someone who is genuinely interested - it can take you so far.

    Enjoying the freedom from major responsibilities in your twenties is less about doing whatever you want and more about having room to discover yourself!
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      May 29 2013: My word! That's beautiful! And you are only 26? There is a lot of wisdom there that I would not expect in someone so young. Your comments are truly beautiful.
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    May 28 2013: Don't think. Do.
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    May 25 2013: I'm 24, and grateful to have had some awakening experiences, but still look back with the feeling " wow, i already had so many chances to pull myself together that i've missed". Your question is awesome and i think it's the right time for youto be asking! I would say to myself:

    - don't be so concerned about whether you're cool enough or not, the people you are hanging out with are going to change in ways you have no idea of now

    - do not date someone because you have a huge crush on them, or they have one on you. Learn from your teenage relationships and try to grow up to find people who you are actually compatible with

    - look at yourself. Do you know what you like? Do you just like things that the people you admire like? Seriously get to know yourself. Don't make your decisions based on what other people think of you, or what you think they want from you. Be aware enough to know when you are doing this, and move away from it. Your actual desires and intentions will always come up to the surface eventually, so if you are pretending, know that you will one way regret it. We all have to face our true selves someday. Never run from yourself!

    - don't be worried about having the best friends or the right friends right now. Prioritize learning who you are, how you want to be, what feels right to you, and the people you will attract into your life will be much better matched to your inner self than if you don't follow your heart, or if you try to force yourself to be someone you're not.

    - do not think that you will be a better person tomorrow! Whatever you do today, makes it more likely you will do it the next day. Habits are built subtly, day by day, and bad habits are so hard to break, it is so much better to just prevent them by keeping an inquisitive, alive outlook

    - seriously be okay with being different. Embrace it. Don't run away from your own strangeness.

    - try meditation : )
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    May 23 2013: "If you are twenty-something, what do you tell yourself everyday to be the best you can be?"
    WAKE UP!!!!! Life IS serious!! You were created to be unique and your experiences help you to be. GET OUT THERE!!! TAKE A RISK!! GET PASSIONATE ABOUT SOMETHING OTHER THAN YOURSELF. See others needs and meet them. You will find JOY in this. (seek joy over happiness) read read read read xox a fellow 20 something.
  • May 21 2013: I just turned 25, yay! If I could have told myself something 5 years ago, this is going to sound ridiculous, but it would have been to take better notes. Really. I went through college constantly hearing about how whatever job I got would initially be way below my level and would bore me. Not the case! There is so much information now I recall hearing, but not enough to be of any real assistance. Don't discount anything! Also, don't be afraid to stay in a few Friday nights to do what needs doing, the little regrets of jobs not properly done never really go away, and there will be other Friday nights.
  • May 20 2013: I was never one to waste my time. In fact, I was done with college by 20 and hoped to use my early 20s to begin a family AND become a community leader. What I didn't realize was just how hard it would be to find those opportunities at this age in today's world. Today I would try to prepare my 16-year-old self for the realization that it would be really hard to find other people (especially guys!) who are living life fully. I'd tell myself not to get too discouraged waiting for everybody else to catch up! I'd tell myself to focus more on enjoying life, because if you're trying to make a difference in the world, but keep discovering you have to wait longer, it can be really discouraging!
  • May 20 2013: Dear Morgan
    Yes there are many opportunities out there, and when they come knocking open the door, don't get complacent about where you are, and don't be afraid to master what you are doing and then moving on to something new. You will never become irrelevant.
  • May 20 2013: Just saw this TED Talk and it inspired to whip up this quick post on my blog. Just something that sprang to mind immediately and I just blurted it out. This Talk made me a happier person :)

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    May 20 2013: Do the things now that you think you'll do later.
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    May 20 2013: I spent my late twenties trying to fix what I had messed up in my teens and early twenties. I graduated from college with a meaningless major and no sense of direction. Eventually, I was able to backtrack, pick up the pieces, and take a bunch of useful post-bac courses. Through hard work and a lot of luck, I was ultimately able to get into medical school. So I ended up in a good place, but it took much longer to get there than it should have. It would be sweet and poetic to tell you that the journey was worth it, but the truth is that all I see when I look back is how I wasted a few years of my life. I would like to have those years back.

    What I would tell my twenty-year-old self is the following: The ideal of wandering in your twenties to try to "find yourself" is overrated. Move more purposefully. Try to figure things out quickly and efficiently. If you know what you're interested in and what you want, don't be afraid to grow up quickly and seize it. Life's too short to be reckless with your twenties.

    Only my $0.02, of course, Morgan. In the end, only you will be able decide what makes life meaningful for you. And a slew of internet comments shouldn't sway your internal compass. But I'd like to add my voice to the ether with the overall message that there really is such thing as "wasted time", and you may have to live quite deliberately in order to avoid it.
  • May 19 2013: Work and study in another country with another language than the one in your country. Knowing several languages and cultures gives you so many opportunities...
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    May 19 2013: I am a freshman in China。I think that everyone has different view of life in different time.You might be affected by one speech,even as a bad weather.In the before i was confuse with the unknown feature.But ,as a result,i got tired everyday.So i believe that try different things and do anyhing with happy.That 's enough.