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20 Things I Should Have Known at 20

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1. The world is trying to keep you stupid. From bank fees to interest rates to miracle diets, people who are not educated are easier to get money from and easier to lead. Educate yourself as much as possible for wealth, independence, and happiness.

2. Do not have faith in institutions to educate you. By the time they build the curriculum, it’s likely that the system is outdated– sometimes utterly broken. You both learn and get respect from people worth getting it from by leading and doing, not by following.

3. Read as much as you can. Learn to speed read with high retention. Emerson Spartz taught me this while I was at a Summit Series event. If he reads 2-3 books a week, you can read one.

4. Connect with everyone, all the time. Be genuine about it. Learn to find something you like in each person, and then speak to that thing.

5. Don’t waste time being shy. Shyness is the belief that your emotions should be the arbitrators of your decision making process when the opposite is actually true.

6. If you feel weird about something during a relationship, that’s usually what you end up breaking up over.

7. Have as much contact as possible with older people. Personally, I met people at Podcamps. My friend Greg, at the age of 13, met his first future employer sitting next to him on a plane. The reason this is so valuable is because people your age don’t usually have the decision-making ability to help you very much. Also they know almost everything you will learn later, so ask them.

8. Find people that are cooler than you and hang out with them too. This and the corollary are both important: “don’t attempt to be average inside your group. Continuously attempt to be cooler than them (by doing cooler things, being more laid back, accepting, ambitious, etc.).”

9. You will become more conservative over time. This is just a fact. Those you surround yourself with create a kind of “bubble” that pushes you to support the status quo. For this reason, you need to do your craziest stuff NOW. Later on, you’ll become too afraid. Trust me.

10. Reduce all expenses as much as possible. I mean it. This creates a safety net that will allow you to do the crazier shit I mentioned above.

11. Instead of getting status through objects (which provide only temporary boosts), do it through experiences. In other words, a trip to Paris is a better choice than a new wardrobe. Studies show this also boosts happiness.

12. While you are living on the cheap, solve the money problem. Use the internet, because it’s like a cool little machine that helps you do your bidding. If you are currently living paycheck to paycheck, extend that to three weeks instead of two. Then, as you get better, you can think a month ahead, then three months, then six, and finally a year ahead. (The goal is to get to a point where you are thinking 5 years ahead.)

13. Learn to program.

14. Get a six-pack (or get thin, whatever your goal is) while you are young. Your hormones are in a better place to help you do this at a younger age. Don’t waste this opportunity, trust me.

15. Learn to cook. This will make everything much easier and it turns food from a chore + expensive habit into a pleasant + frugal one. I’m a big Jamie Oliver fan, but whatever you like is fine.

16. Sleep well. This and cooking will help with the six pack. If you think “I can sleep when I’m dead” or “I have too much to do to sleep,” I have news for you: you are INEFFICIENT, and sleep deprivation isn’t helping.

17. Get a reminder app for everything. Do not trust your own brain for your memory. Do not trust it for what you “feel like” you should be doing. Trust only the reminder app. I use RE.minder and Action Method.

18. Choose something huge to do, as well as allowing the waves of opportunity to help you along. If you don’t set goals, some stuff may happen, but if you do choose, lots more will.

19. Get known for one thing. Spend like 5 years doing it instead of flopping around all over the place. If you want to shift afterwards, go ahead. Like I said, choose something.

20. Don’t try to “fix” anyone. Instead, look for someone who isn’t broken.

(This post was inspired by an email question from Daniel. Photo by Tambako the Jaguar.)

* Filed by Julien at 1:22 pm under tips


Hi, I’m Julien Smith. I'm the founder and CEO of Breather.

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216 Responses to “20 Things I Should Have Known at 20”

  1. Tyler Says:

    Knowing that last one would have saved me a ton of time to spend on everything else.

    The reward for “fixing” someone is that they become boring and predictable.

  2. Lewis Howes Says:

    Dude Julien this is a great list my man!

    I love and talk about #’s 4,8,9 and 18 all the time as I think they are essential.

    Keep rocking it my man!

  3. Lyden Foust Says:

    What a great post!! I feel fortunate to be able to see this at 22. 17, 18, 19, are solid. I am surprised at #14 though, why did it make the list?

    • Julien Says:

      Just because it’s something I’m working on right now, I guess. :)

      • James Says:

        I’m new here. But, for #14 definitely check out Russian Kettlebell Exercises. Make sure they’re Russian. It’s one of the best workouts I’ve found, at least for me. So you may want to look into it. Don’t go it alone though, look for an instructor to at least get started with proper form. Just my 2 cents. It’s only twice a week for 20 minutes and it’s not boring.

        Great site by the way!

        • Easyebes Says:

          That’s Pavel and Dan John’s deal, isn’t it? Those guys are legitimately amazing at what they do. Currently reading “Easy Strength” and loving it.

        • Amanda Says:

          I also loved this post! They are all great points (especially 4, 11, 14, 18 and 19) – and such a great reminder for anyone at any age. In regards to the kettlebell training – I’d have to agree with James in that this type of whole body training is phenomenal, always changing and quick! I’d highly suggest looking into it. Feel free to contact me if you’d like more info. Great blog!

          • Mads Says:

            Go paleo. If you do that, you will have a sixpack in no time (it took me a just a few weeks to get a sixpack after I started eating paleo)

          • James Says:

            Amanda, I just checked your page. You are so right Peanut Butter is delicious! Great site by the way.

        • William Says:

          Kettlebells are great, but they are only part of an exercise routine, not the whole shebang. Even Dan John (mentioned below) would say this.

      • GoustiFruit Says:

        Something very efficient and that will take you 15 minutes a day on average is to follow Zuzana Light: http://www.facebook.com/ZuzkaLight?sk=wall
        I know what you will say, yeah a girl doing girl things, but just give it a try and you’ll understand.
        Oh: BTW I’m turning 39 next month and *I* have my 6 pack :-D

    • Linda Sand Says:

      Because if you don’t take care of your body now it won’t take care of you later. Trust this knowledge from a nearly 65 year old woman who is VERY sorry she didn’t stay thin.

    • Michelle Sullivan Says:

      Oh #14 is essential. With strong abs comes a strong back, and you need to be able to carry the weight of the world sometimes when you’re in rockstar mode. A strong back therefore rocks (and strong abs are nice to look at ;)

    • Shelley Says:

      #14, muscle memory. I had a 6 pack right up until about being 5 months pregnant. It was so much easier to get back in shape after. And now if I let myself get out of shape, it’s only a matter of weeks to get back into shape. I’m 52. I had my first child at 31. I just wish I had eaten healthier in my 20′s because it is catching up to me now. At least my kids are health nuts.

    • Nicole Patrice Says:

      I have read some studies that is is important for your muscle memory to exercise earlier on in life, also that it is good to form the habit early… I find I am happier and more productive when I am doing some form of exercise too.

    • Amanda Cutting Says:

      Trust me from a 35-year old post- gastric bypass patient. I wish I had kept fit after having babies rather than having weight-loss surgery 5-years ago! My body is forever changed from the surgery I’ll never gain the weight back, but there’s a reason. I can’t easy a real meal and even then I tend to get sick afterward. Plus I have to take supplements, vitamins, and lots of medicals

    • Dave Doolin Says:

      It will stay with you a long time. I suspect it might be easier to get it back once you had that level of fitness, at any age. (Not sure about that, check back with me next year.)

    • AnnaLisa Says:

      Don’t wait to find out! I came close at 40, but now it is out of reach.

      • NateMack Says:

        Staying thin is important because the extra blood your body uses to keep the fat alive, takes away from the blood that flows to your brain. Even 20-30 pounds overweight can make your brain deteriorate faster than normal. The thinner you are, the clearer you can think.

    • Rob Says:

      Good advice for any age. But I can tell you from experience that he is dead on with #14! I played running back for Kansas University, fought Golden Gloves, and have played on 7 National Championship softball teams, and have always been in great shape, UNTIL. I was hit by a vehicle going 70 in a 25 and was left with a broken neck, back, both shoulders dislocated, torn bicep, ruptured tendons and torn ligaments in both hands and wrists, and 7 broken ribs. If I hadn’t been in good shape at the time, I likely, wouldn’t have ever recovered. I have had 9 surgeries, with more to come, and wear Fentanyl patches so that I can walk. The problem is that narcotics destroy testosterone in the body, and without it the body breaks down very quickly. Now at 53, the Dr.’s have helpedme get back to my old self, but it hasn’t been a fun trip. I honestly don’t think that a person that wasn’t in good shape would make it through things like this and many other physical difficulties without preparing their bodies for them while they are young! He’s right, it is good advice to hear. Good luck to each of you’

  4. Jen Says:

    Awesome Awesome Awesome! I need to continue to live by this advice while I’m still in my 20s. Live it up with no regrets. Be yourself always.

  5. Mandee Widrick Says:

    I would love to learn how to speed read…I definitely should be adding more reading to my schedule.

  6. Joel Valdez Says:

    Nice list. Specially fact #11. Actually, I even wrote something related to it: http://www.joelvaldez.com/doing-more-instead-of-having-more/

    I also struggle I little be with #5 :-/

  7. Lyndon Says:

    Awesome advice! I’m 22 and planning on printing this post out and hanging it next to my desk to remind me of all of the great advice.

  8. Matt Brennan Says:

    You finally gave me the push I needed for speed reading. Something I should have worked on a long, long time ago. I’ve been doing some research and came across this helpful site you might want to know about: http://www.accelareader.com. You just copy and paste the content into the box, and the website shows it to you one word at a time at a fixed speed. Good tool.

  9. The Nude Graduate Says:

    Hey man,

    Impressive stuff. We think alike about a lot of them. Maybe we can correspond.

  10. Gaetan Lanthier Says:

    #13 is my favorite!

  11. Nico Says:

    Can you please recommend a speed read method? Thanks!

    • James Says:

      I’m totally with Nico on this one! I’ve tried the Better Grades In Less Time speed reading, and Idiot’s Guide to speed reading. Useful info, but for some reason something hasn’t clicked with me yet. I’d totally be up for trying a new method!

  12. Sylvain Carle Says:

    I would mix 7 and 9 to create another item: Have as much contact as possible with much younger people. This can be with your own kids or someone you meet in another context. I learn so much from young guns, I love it. Thinking like a 5 yrs old or a 15 yrs old is a great way to see the world thru new glasses.

  13. Rajesh Setty Says:

    This is super awesome stuff, Julien.

    Thanks for sharing this. The very first thing I am doing with this is sharing it with my son :)

    Best,
    Raj

  14. Zil Says:

    Hey Julien,

    Good readings! Will be sharing this with my kiddos!

  15. Bara Says:

    Nice one Julien, I pretty much agree and need to smile a little. Good luck with all of those, I wish I knew earlier… but it is never too late :-).

  16. Anon Says:

    “Trust me.”, “Trust me.”, “Trust me.”, “Trust me.”.

    Funny how your first point negates all your other self-help nonsense.

    • Femke Says:

      I had the exact same thought. Funny that there isn’t any rule on this list about living your life according to an article on the internet written by someone who says “trust me” a lot? Especially someone who recommends meeting older men at the age of 13…?

  17. Chris Pritchard Says:

    I feel like I have just been handed a strategy guide for a game I have been playing WAY too long. It’s never too late. This will be my kid’s next bedtime story :)

  18. Ravikanth Says:

    Thanks for the good read, Am glad i saw it at-least now.

  19. Jitesh Navlani Says:

    Such a nice article and a great list.I believe by approaching to this list atleast 1 per day we can change our lives.

    Nicely framed!!!!

  20. David Says:

    This is one of the better lists I’ve seen, and sadly I have had to push myself through quite a lot. But yes, these are exactly the points I am to have and what I want to tell my kids one day!

    The beautiful thing is we know them now, and in 30 years we can look back and say, well hot digity damn, I’m glad I just spent the last thirty years a lot wiser!

  21. Mirka Says:

    I am 19 and on a really good way, I guess. I just finished school, started taking political action and this August I am going to travel through Norway for four weeks with a really great guy I Met on a protest against facism last September, who became one of my closest friends within weeks. <3 In October I am going to study Politics and Philosophy – in order to make a change! I am really excited for this new chapter of my life!

  22. Sam Ragnarsson (@samrag) Says:

    The sad truth is that even if you tell youngsters all of the above, they will rarely understand how much it will help. I mean, doesn’t every parent tell their kids to study to be successful in life – and how many rebel against that. Fantastic points though – and I think we are never to late to apply them!

  23. John Jeremiah Smith Says:

    A good sample, except for 8 and 9. “Coolness”, or “coolth” as I call it, is a purely subjective thing. Hang out with people you like, but are different — especially different from you. As for becoming more conservative — hoo! I sure didn’t.

  24. Carrie Robinson Says:

    I love your list. Not sure if these are in there somewhere… I am going to keep this list handy!

    Date different people, don’t worry about settling down.

    Try new and different things – take classes you always thought you might like to try like belly dancing, cooking, etc… You might find a wonderful passion early in life.

    Don’t be afraid to make a big move to a different state.

  25. Tessa Says:

    As a woman pushing sixty, (ergo one of the older people you espouse conversing with), I have to lodge my vehement disagreement with number 9. I personally have not grown more conservative over time, and many of my friends are also moving in the opposite direction. When one’s “social obligations” of raising the next generation and supporting the consumption that makes our economies grow are over and done with, a lot of new freedom becomes visible, and many of us seem to make a beeline for these cracks of light. Even those of us without pension plans.

    Generalizations are not always useful. I have some argument with a few of your other points too (like shyness being a belief about anything, or getting status from experience (Isaac Asimov never left his chair), or speed reading (hope that’s not literature you’re “getting the general gist of”) but I thought I’d comment on the one that made me jump up and down, even at 58.

    On last point? Anyone over a certain…age, or is it maturing point?… will add a codicil to number 20. Stop projecting your own brokenness onto another and hounding them about it, and focus your gaze on fixing yourself. Then you’ll be able to love someone, including their brokenness,

    Lots of agreement from me!

    • Janine Bowen Says:

      Know it’s an old post, but just had to thank you for posting it – especially the last part. At 53 I am finally learning this, and you said it beautifully. I don’t know if those without experience will understand it, but it is beyond true and is applicable to any relationship.

  26. Alex Says:

    This is great. Helped a lot.

  27. melanie Says:

    Very interesting and wise tips for success but I would add:

    1.Find your true self, look within to discover gifts and talents that still lay dormant.
    2. forgive, even if the other person does not deserve it so YOU are set free from negative emotions.
    3.Relax and let go of other people’s burdens. Don’t be a scapegoat.

  28. Robert Ellis Says:

    Obviously you learned this much younger than I did. This is the secret to life.

  29. Guilherme Says:

    I just don’t agree with the point 16, you can use good techniques to reduce your need for sleep and get better attention…

  30. Robert Ellis Says:

    Oh, and just as I was clicking ‘post’ I noticed the comment above about finding your true self. That is the worst advice anyone will ever give you. Turning yourself inward and contemplating your navel and how everyone is unfair, yadda, yadda, yadda is the road to ruin. Don’t go there.

    • Paula Says:

      I don’t think the comment was about blame, but rather about finding your strengths, leveraging who you truly are, and finding the square hole for the square peg.
      In ones search for their ‘true self’ its acknowledging thethings/people/places/experiences you enjoy, and those want to avoid.

  31. Adriel Lopez Says:

    This article would have been so useful a few years back! Great article, pay attention to it is going to help you a lot!!

  32. Raul Colon (@rj_c) Says:

    I have to agree that reducing expenses can really take you to the next level.

    Some great advice might want to try the six pack abs.. just have not found the will to accomplish it.

    As for apps I use many that keep me on track!

  33. verna Says:

    I should have known all of them, and I still do not remember to use some of them. You can get fat without learning to cook. In fact that may be a rule, but you can get fat cooking your own, too.
    I am still looking for the opportunity but seeing as how I have a hard time leaving the house, it’s kind of a problem. I met a new person last week because I looked him in the eyes (homework). He has not called me but he knows I exist. Other than that, I have not met a new person in like 14 years and it is getting pretty stale around here.
    Trying to find work that does not chain me to the system. I organize homes but am just starting. Seeing people who do moves for others is daunting but I am a great packer, and maybe that’s all that is.

    I should have known a lot of stuff when I was 20 and I should have listened to people who offered me nothing to work, and I did not need the money while living at home. Now I am going to need the money, seriously, but am looking for a plan, a home etc.
    Great post though.
    I love those yahoos who say stuff like “rock on”, yes, you grow more conservative. As a former rhumba skirt in the food market just because, and a post flower child with very large hair dancing in the aisles, I gotta say, when did I lose my courage?

  34. Susan Cooper Says:

    These are great tips for all of us at any age. My personal favorites are #5, #8, #11, #18 and #20. I was thinking of posting the in my office as a reminder to my self. :-)

  35. Jennifer M Brown Says:

    shoulda, woulda, coulda..

    This list is superb, thank you for the reminder. A reminder that although I may have skipped a couple, the time is now, never too late.

  36. joan Says:

    Love it, Love it, Love it!!!!!!!!!!!1

  37. Lisa Says:

    So, is what everyone is saying that if they had known before that it would make them happier, they would have cooked their own food and worked out and met people and had more adventures?

    ‘Cause I don’t believe for one minute that you didn’t know. You were just too comfortable in your modern, TV-work-coffee world to have a more meaningful life.

    So yes, you should probably think about this more, but printing it out doesn’t make it happen.

  38. Paula Says:

    lol this was great, but at 31 I feel like an old woman because I was living #9 from ages 18-27 before I slowed down a bit. Well, okay, more like from ages 13-27… ouch… like the woman above is saying at 65, I will mention that if you are a total thrill seeking nut like I was, then you will pay for it in a worn out body WAY sooner than you bargained for!
    Maybe qualify it a tad, lol in case some people are like me. Yeah, I cant say I totally regret the tattoos on my face though :)

  39. Susan Says:

    I have always liked to live fearlessly…I dress to the nines for no reason, I wear bright and bold make up and do my hair, I am present to the world around me, I am always learning new things – particularly from others…I love life, I love people….and I freely share smiles, laughter, kindness, coutesy, respect, and manners, am I perfect? No! but I allow myself to be human….the one thing to impress upon young people is to be forgiving of themselves and others for being human!

  40. danny Says:

    you didn’t know any of this at 20? I realized most of this during high school.

  41. Jenson Says:

    Hi Julien,

    Came here via Google+, and I’m glad I did. Great post. I’m particularly glad that you mentioned the importance of learning to cook. I too am a huge fan of Jamie Oliver and feel that learning to cook is one of the biggest ways people can both save money and improve their health.

    I actually blogged about #10 a little while ago as well: http://www.dayprimer.com/2012/05/5-easy-ways-to-save-lot-of-money.html

    Thanks for your post.

  42. Dave Says:

    I would love some elaboration on #20. It seems awfully negative and slightly selfish and self-centered. Tell me what happens if you are the “broken” one and there is nobody willing to help…which is the case if every person were to follow your advice. There would be a pretty big pile of discarded “broken” people. Everyone falls and breaks at least once in their lifetime. So I guess a person’s value is determined by how long they can live without breaking because the moment that they do, they will be tossed away never to be found again. Correct?

    • MIchael Says:

      There’s a difference between dealing with the hardships that life hands you from time to time and consistently behaving like a victim. Some people manage to get lots of attention from the latter, so they have learned to capitalize on it. This type of ‘broken’ person doesn’t want to be fixed and they are exhausting in a relationship.

    • pell Says:

      Your words make sense, I read it in another way though. I don’t think the sentence applies to people who are broken in regards of having a very hard time, to me it described this weird passion some people have: trying to make everybody into something they want them to be.

      @MIchael: I think that people who tend to act like the victim have a problem as well, even if it’s “just” their desire for attention.

  43. Nishant Tharani Says:

    I love this list – was hoping you could expound a bit more on #13 though? I’d like to know why you think that it’s important specifically

  44. Jo-Anne Says:

    Most people will no none of these things by the time they are 20 in fact they may be well into their 40′s before the get some of those things and some people will never learn them because they are stupid or too self absorbed…..

  45. Jim Says:

    A superb list Julien. Very inspiring. Anyone know if podcamps exist in Los Angeles? My search didn’t turn up any.

    I tried RE.minder, but its interface didn’t speak to me. I found that Due ( http://www.dueapp.com/ ) has a beautiful interface, and it grabs my attention at the appropriate time, like a pit bull waiting to be fed.

    Number five is amazingly succinct. “Don’t waste time being shy” is a great. Well written!

    Thanks!

  46. Austin Says:

    Incredible list. Two things:

    1) speed-reading. I’ve taught myself 3 languages, gained two undergraduate degrees and I’m currently succeeding in medical school, all without speed reading. I’ve always been very wary of speed reading – but I’m willing to try anything if it will net results. Can anyone speak more about their personal experiences with speed reading? A book (non-fiction or fiction) a week is no problem for me, and I definitely don’t speed read, so I’m still a bit curious about the merits of developing this skill.

    2) #19. What if I don’t much care about being “known” for anything? What if I want to learn expansively, have tremendous friendships and a meaningful, beautiful relationship, see the world, and generally have an awesome life – but I am fairly apathetic about whether the wider world knows about anything I do. #19 is the curious one, for me – I definitely agree with the others so much (except for #9). What do you think? (Julien – were any of the Zen monks you meditated with widely “known” for anything? Did they care?)

    • Julien Says:

      good question. they didn’t care. some of these are career tips and won’t apply to everyone, but in general, i would say that absolutely everyone would benefit from having a good “brand” or whatever.

  47. Steven Erickson Says:

    I’m 19. I’ll be turning 20 in less than 6 months. Thanks for the advice!

  48. Melissa Says:

    I agree with most of these!
    The world definitely wants to make you dumb.
    Reading is definitely an important thing to do, depending on what you’re reading. I doubt you’re referring to Snookie’s page-turner.

    I don’t agree with opting to take a trip to Paris instead of getting new clothes. I didn’t buy clothes for years, and trust me, you eventually have to get new clothes. After all, what will you wear when you meet the older people?
    What will you do in Paris, anyway? Party? Support local businesses and party at home. Maybe you’ll run into some Frenchmen on vacation.

    The other thing that I don’t agree about it constantly trying to be cooler than your friends. No one is “the normal guy” all the time… your cool moments will come naturally!
    Think about it this way:
    Would you really want to hang out with the Fonz?
    How about Dwight Schrute?
    One-upping constantly isn’t cool.

  49. Steve Mulry Says:

    Hi Julien,
    What a fantastic list. For those of us looking for real life education for our kids, you can’t go past the things you’ve listed here.
    As with all of your posts, this rocks.

  50. carol Says:

    I think you message is great. One thing I would add is use sunscreen, stay in the shade and don’t smoke and when you are getting up there in age you will still look young. Nobody ever guesses my age correctly and the older I get the better I like it!__

  51. Cream Says:

    Really, really inspiring. Though I had past my 20 for three years, I think some of those things would never too late to do.

  52. ariefardian Says:

    it seem like i’m too late… but it’s necessary to add idea to youngster after…. Great to have this

  53. Remodeler Says:

    Number 6, the keyword is “usually”, cuz what you break over might, in fact get developed DURING the relationship.

  54. Zook024 Says:

    Nice list, glad to be reading it at age 20! Thanks for the homework as well, been absorbing a lot of new ideas this year and I’m always happy to hear more from you.

  55. Josh Says:

    #16 is the one I’m working on the most right now. Just over 20 years old now, lots of great advice, thanks Julien!

  56. mathew Says:

    you’re are piece of shit for #2,6,8,9,14,17 and 20. grow up.

    • Andrew Says:

      You are piece of shit for your ignorance. All of these points are valid and explained not only in article, but also in discussion.

  57. Salah Alomari Says:

    First of all, Lovely writing, and you have an awesome blog.

    Point 12, I could not understand what you mean by that, could you please elaborate?

    Point 18 and 19, wouldnt that contradict with being crazy, and to learn different things in life, what if my thing is to know everything, be multifunctional.

    Point 16, I read the other day that there are alternative sleeping cycle where you only need 4 hours a day of sleep: http://www.highexistence.com/alternate-sleep-cycles/

    Point 20, I totally agree with that, and I learned it the hard way, you cannot change anyone, but rather you can learn how to accept them, and you can always lead those who are willing to change. But, finding someone not broken, I dont think that such a person exists, but relatively, from one own’s perspective, the flaws of one person might appeal to another, its like the dark and bright colors in a painting, they cannot exist without each other, otherwise the painting will not have depth or contrast.

    • Heather Says:

      Point #16. These “alternate sleep patterns” thing must be bogus, any parent of a newborn trying to keep up with the babies “alternate sleep pattern” will tell you how tired they are. All they need is straight sleep to catch up. Indeed sleep well and long…. children will take some of it away.

  58. Odinaka Anigbogu (Oddie) Says:

    NICE GOING Julien! I’m loving numbers 7,8, and 9 alot. But Number 13 is just scary. I do not like nor understand programming. at all. Still doing the ICONTACT assignment thoe.Thanks.

  59. Biken Shrestha Says:

    Well I find myself lucky as I have just entered 17. I really like all of them. During my vacation I am trying to engage on those things which can help me on future rather than sleeping all day long :p

  60. F Says:

    20…. but what if you’re the one who’s broken? should nobody seek you?

  61. ralph Says:

    Amen brother. I am almost 2.5 times older than 20 and this shit relates to me. Funny how it doesn’t matter what age you’re at.

  62. Dalia Says:

    Hi Julien,

    I am not a native English speaker. I don’t understand what you mean at no.12. I understand the words, I just don’t understand the whole “picture”, the advice. Can you help me?
    Loved the article!

    Thank you

  63. Tiffani Says:

    I feel like it should be someone’s goal to realize this even maybe earlier than they are twenty. I’m currently twenty, and I feel like even now too many people are set in their ways or too afraid to just step outside their shell and are too worried about the “flinch” senario to even do anything.

    I also think an important one should be “change the way you talk” the second you start talking with a more positive attitude everything seems more achievable or doable.

  64. Charlie Southwell Says:

    Some really nice things to think about here. Setting bigger goals and hanging out with more people are certainly up there for me.

    I *really* wish that re.minder was on Android. It just looks so sexy compared to any other to do list I’ve seen.

  65. Vicki Says:

    Life is a journey through positives and negatives…enjoy the positives and learn from the negatives. NEVER think that because things are negative in your life that you are in a terrible world or place in your life. Remember it is a journey and your journey to experience all the good and bad. Set goals/dreams in your life and never lose sight of them -as if you believe you can do it you will. And most importantly – Remember to BREATHE and enjoy the ride because it is your ride and yours only. Only you are in the driver’s seat and only you control your life.

  66. AnnaLisa Says:

    I’d amend #7… Make and keep friends of ALL ages.
    At 60, I have gotten some of the best advice from people less than half my age. Your elders may impart wisdom, but it is the young who have the courage to use it.

  67. Donna Says:

    Great article but Number 17 really needs to be revised. Are you sure you want to advise people to rely further on technology and forgo relying on their memory? Surely we should be training our brains to remember, not to become lazier.

  68. Hillary Udechukwu Says:

    You are doing a great job here
    The words are very inspiring

  69. Kwadwo Says:

    Very enlightening. Point #5 really touched a nerve. Shyness has taken so much out of me.

  70. Jeremy Handel Says:

    I’m from Handelabra, the maker of RE.minder, and I wanted to say thanks for the shout out!

    Since RE.minder only exists because I read books like “the Dip”, I also wanted to say that I’m loving “The Flinch”. I got it about 30 minutes ago and I’ll easily blow through it tonight. Some really great insights. I’m psyched to have helped build a tool that you find helpful!

  71. Michael Tekie Says:

    So my bad for blowing up your twitter with a mix of my awesome wit, sarcasm, and anger(jk bro). However, I found The Flinch truly for free(thank the Lord for Google) and I feel good about it. But I’ll feel better when you release it in print because paper is awesome! Stay up bruh

  72. stepha Says:

    #20 is just cunty.
    Go kill yourself

  73. CKF Says:

    As a music student at a conservatory, I find this very helpful. I like to relax as much as the next person, but in my studies, I find that I cannot afford the luxury of relaxing as much as I would like. I personally make a daily schedule (down to the minute) while including classes, work, meals, commuting, and of course practicing my instrument. Admittedly I don’t end up following this super strictly 100% of the time, but I find that I am much more productive when I try to make it happen, than when I don’t.

    Lots of really great points in this post. A lot of things that have helped me be successful in my field, and also a lot of things that I need to work on. Thanks!

  74. Maureen C Berry Says:

    Great list. My fav’s: #9,#16. Still working on #20-my mom’s was a “fixer,” and I hold on to that memory and her ideals.

  75. Chris Says:

    21. Don’t assume everyone has their monitor in landscape because your website will break for them and you will look incompetent.

  76. Rahul Nanda Says:

    At the age of 40 all these things become even more important, because you become set in your ways.

  77. Ashish Grover Says:

    Nicely put. Great read with morning coffee. I enjoyed and related to most of the points. Wish I had read this 10 years ago :-)

  78. Rituraj Says:

    Good points for make a non regrettable past. I wish someone told these things to me at my 20. Thanks Julien

  79. Arthur Says:

    I don’t usually comment on blog articles but I got to say I feel very concerned, I am actually 19 (20 in a few month) and this article is full of truth. I’ve always been creating stuff on the internet and being almost 20 I already work for several companies as an independant and have my own company while studying in a computer science engineering school (nothing comes from my parents, I’m not this kind of spoilt kid). I mostly follow all of your advices even if I make a lot of other mistakes I’m sure about this and I will probably write the same article in 10 years from now. But seriously, every young people should read that, in my school nobody tries to create values, to make money with their skills (come on, we learn how to program and we are very good about it) and I think it’s a little bit sad because they could do much better than working in the summer in a fast food or a clothing store (not saying that this is wrong, just saying that they could do things they love). They could meet a lot of people, interact with them and learn a lot. Finally I would add a final advice from my experience:

    21.Don’t fear older peoples
    Older people are always impressed when they meet a young man or girl that works and create cool things and they are also willing to teach you a lot of things as well as to help you.

  80. Pameladeda Says:

    Agree with all sans #9 – on the opposite trajectory. Getting more liberal with every year.

  81. Paul Says:

    Since most people use Android, do you have a recommendation for reminder apps (#17) for that OS? I’ve been looking on an off and I’ve never found one that I like.

  82. JV Says:

    Most of these items will seem silly by the time you hit your 40s, particularly the ones about being cool and doing cool shit and lots of it. This is list written by a still very young person. Still, interesting reading.

  83. Moe Says:

    I’m 19 and turning 20 in a few months. I appreciate the advice and hopefully 10 years down the line I can look back and say these were the 20 things I learned that put me one step ahead of the pack.

  84. Zane Says:

    Half of this is brilliant but the other half is such bullshit that it invalidates the rest

  85. Eunice Says:

    The two thoughts I thought repeatedly in my head while reading this:
    1. I thought I was the only one!!!
    2. I thought I was on my way to being a failure/thought I was way behind everyone else but according to this, I’m… NORMAL?!?! :O

  86. Helen T Says:

    Love these, and never too late to learn them. Six and Twenty ring as true now in my forties as they might ever have done, but seriously wish my 20 something self had known this. And how to tell my 10 yo child that these things come to pass. Although maybe going through them is one of the best ways to learn? Not sure.

    Thanks though, great post

  87. jrock Says:

    I enjoyed this list although I feel it is written by a 20 year old (41 here). I would make a few changes.

    #4 – I don’t try to connect to everyone because frankly, I don’t have time. Connect with people that you think will make a positive impact on your life.

    #9 – I’m way more liberal now than I was when I was younger in part due to having children, which exposes emotions that I never felt before.

    #11 – Experiences are great, but they don’t have to be status related. The experiences I have with my wife and children FAR EXCEED any experience I’ve had with travelling or adventure. There’s no greater experience than holding your own flesh and blood in your hands and realizing that your life, your needs and your desires are secondary. Once you devote yourself to someone else, your life is all the more enriched by sharing experiences together.

  88. Adam Says:

    Preach!

  89. Jay Says:

    How do I accomplish learning to speed read with high retention? I followed the links, but did not find information specific to this task.

  90. Candy The Amen Evangelista Says:

    Hey Julien!!! It was very inspirational speaking with you, I appreciate your time and hope to see you in Vienna later this year! Until then, I will continue to pass on your blog link because it’s really great info to share, especially the “20 Things I Should Have Known at 20″ list, everyone really Likes that one!!! Keep up the great writing and my roommate bought both your books :)

  91. ohsogirly Says:

    Excellent, inspiring post :) The only thing that was niggling me is your emphasis on how much harder it is to change when you’re older. I think if your mindset is in the right place, you can change at any age and with the right mindset it can be just as easy at any age.

    Also I agree with Tessa above on there being more important things than material things *and* experiences. A lot of spiritual traditions focus on going within, meditating, connecting with yourself, rather than external things like getting experiences, in order to connect with happiness.

  92. Nate Abele Says:

    Flippin’ love Jaime Oliver.

  93. Anonymous Says:

    What a huge load of bullshit. Hopefully by the age 50 you will have learned the *real* important things of life. Until then, keep trying.

  94. Shekhar Suman Says:

    Loved your post. Thank you very much for sharing!

  95. Manju Says:

    Sire, you have helped me find myself, I am grateful to you!

  96. Goodwynn Says:

    Spoken like a true 20 something.

  97. Emma Says:

    Great List:)
    But what do you mean with your last point? My problem with that: I’ve got a friend who has serious problems. And I always feel demotivated after talking to her. According to you I should look for new people who make me feel good.

    • Paula Says:

      yes, this is kind of it…
      No one can fix anyone else. The power, responsibility, and choice is in the person who needs ‘fixing’. Anything fixing done by another, is just temporary.

    • George Says:

      You don’t to fix her, just be there for her. #20 from the list is bullshit. Don’t follow it.

  98. Jason Says:

    Hello Julien, for years I have had the same thoughts that most people are too inefficient and wasting their lives away. Luckily I’ve always known the point 1-11 + 16.

    Last week I quit smoking weed and right at that moment I realized how inefficient I had been my entire life, so I started making a plan on how to improve my life and it’s weird that it has exactly the same as 17, 18 and 19.

    So I have to thank you from the bottom of my heart for confirming that my own plan was good and for completing it.

  99. Bryan Says:

    I’m twenty years old and this whole blog is amazing I feel like it was written by an older version of my self from a future society that communicates to me through the internet. I can’t wait to put these tips into action (thanks older me)

  100. Tanja Says:

    It’s never too late to start with this list. NOW is the right moment :)

  101. Sham Says:

    This is too sexy.

  102. Marie Says:

    This is great lsit !I would like to add wear sunscreen EVERYDAY!

  103. Cassandra Says:

    Great post, Julien. Your concise, wise, and wonderfully articulated posts are a great find. Looking forward to reading more.

  104. Dino Santos Says:

    Spot on but as a 41 year old Im still gonna do it all never ever too old. This is exactly what I tell my kids. This is all they need to learn apart from maths and English school fills their heads with crap. crack on all those with open minds
    Dino

  105. Carlos Sanchez Says:

    A life time isnt enough time to learn or master the true ways of the earth,ocean and the universe,have a good day and night.What we do everyday is just live to pay a created dept that can never be payed,its delution since birth.(Just my opinion)

  106. 1mpuke Says:

    21. Learn to play poker! Poker is the most popular card games in the world with the knowledge / wit inside there you can apply to business http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tony-hsieh/tony-hsieh-zappos-ceo-del_b_589543.html

  107. Gin Says:

    might sound stupid, but I don’t understand, why is it important to learn programming? cause there is no argumentation under this advice..

  108. shizzy Says:

    SMOKE WEEEEEEEED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  109. Rick Says:

    I agree with your recommendations and would like to add two.

    Learn to think critically (properly structured arguments) and understand propaganda techniques.

    Learn to think strategically, so you can understand the environment in which you dwell.

  110. Beth Says:

    This is probably the best advice I have ever read. As a 17 year old girl I found this really helpful. I even printed it out and stuck it on my wall. I really cannot thank you enough.

  111. ash Says:

    any chance you could expand on the relationship thing? it would be totally awesome, im sure

  112. Yuya k Says:

    This is an amazing list.

    I’m 25, and I will know this stuff, emotionally & intellectually.

  113. limo Says:

    It is so easy to read and agree to those rules and it is so damn hard to lift up one’s @$$ and start following.
    So easy to find an excuse to not do anything…

  114. Andrew Says:

    I beg my pardon, but who is Julien?

  115. Simone Says:

    I open this blog post every time i feel sad!
    That is pure energy for me!
    Thank you so much!

  116. Kurt Penberg Says:

    I like the content you written in the post. you have done a great job…

  117. Aicha ben Says:

    thank you for your advices,thay are very useful and true ,i like the last one very much …

  118. kyle Jackson Says:

    dude…. where have you been the last three years of my life…. those 20 tips are where i am now at 23, debt, broken relationship…etc, dont want to bore you but thank you for the information, very helpful!

  119. Dreamer Says:

    I am thankful for your article. Short, direct, and in a list. (Humans are born and die, and on the way they make lists).

    You could call this: “Keys of life” :)

  120. Anirudh Bahadur Says:

    Hi Julien,
    Great post mate! I am 20 years old and have not done even half of the things you have mentioned. After reading this, I’ll be working on my abs and will try to overcome my shyness. ;)

    Regards,
    Anirudh Bahadur

  121. Dragos Petrutiu Says:

    Great article! I really enjoyed it even though I was aware of most of the things.
    After some browsing on your blog, I read about your 1book/week resolution. Which method has Emerson Spartz tought you? I’m also interested in non-fictious books and would like to increase my reading capacity.
    Thanks!

  122. suraj singh Says:

    if i would follow this then i would be as perfect as apple iphone.

  123. Courtney C Greer Says:

    awesome post
    I’m 20 …
    And I totally needed this
    thanks.

  124. Chris Says:

    Yup, work on the abs. When I hit 28, suddenly 3 softball games a week, 3 hours of racquetball 2 days a week, swimming 3 days a week and skating 12 miles 2 days a week weren’t enough.

  125. .;. Says:

    how is this ture when the same cycles or”clans” i call them don’t disapere after highschool or college and you’re town 60% of population is white and on meth?

  126. Emma Brown Says:

    I like you :)

  127. swati gautam Says:

    Wow. I’m turning 20 next month, and I already know this stuff. Thanks Julien. Loved it. Funny thing is that I already knew most of it, but sometimes someone has to remind us about it. :D

  128. Surfing Movies Says:

    After some browsing on your blog, I read about your 1book/week resolution.

  129. تكبير الثدي Says:

    Hi, I just want to say that this web page is AMAZING ! i love it, it looks like a room or something :)
    then lets talk about the essence; you are right in every thing, the 20s are the most important phase in a mans life, its actually the basic for success or failure. And i think i’m on the right track. So thanks for reminding as of the importance of time, knowledge and personal life.

    Your friend,
    Knowledge is power !)

  130. M Says:

    I feel very fortunate to see is! I`m 19 and am very close to being twenty! I currently live a shy life and need to interact with more people. So this list is really great.

  131. Tori Mayer Says:

    Use people’s names. Nodding when you walk by is nice, but names are special.

  132. paraic Says:

    one guy made a cool point about finding a strategy guide to a game. this game is running out steam. the current economic climate can suck my nut. ive read your advice but at the end of the day im gonna do what i do best, and thats backwards kcuf pu.

  133. depe Says:

    99% agree………

  134. Olusola obanijesu Says:

    This is a very good word to the young ones that are yet to learn some few lesson about life, this words are real and pratical I have ask my friends to read and re-read again and digest it

  135. Pippo Says:

    what if u did only 2 or 3 during your 20s? and you are reading this later?

  136. Rick Says:

    This is truly good advice for everyone.

    I’d like to be 20 again and know what I know now. These words of wisdom cover much of that material.

  137. Qf Says:

    OK, dude, go to Paris. Listen to another commercial for stupid dudes )))))

  138. Drew Says:

    The only couple of things I would add is – Don’t get into a relationship with someone just like you – if you have exactly the same taste in everything, you’ll get bored. If you have all the same problems (debt, addiction, etc.) it will only get worse. Yin and Yang, compliment each other.

    and

    When getting into an argument, stop time for a second and look at it from 2 other perspectives – the person you are debating, and a neutral third person, observing the argument. In the heat of things people always think that they are right, and are likely stubborn enough to say mean or hurtful things if it gets too heated. Chances are… you could be wrong. If you take that idea and know that it is ALWAYS a possibility, you are likely to resolve your argument pretty quickly. Memory is flawed.

    I really appreciate that you mention being genuine and taking opportunities as they come. I have done that my whole life and been rewarded many excellent opportunities. I set my passions as future career paths, and even if one wasn’t fruitful, I had the others to fall back on. Now, I am now successful in those pursuits. Love work and earning what you get and the time will pass and you won’t be miserable. My first jobs were in saw mills and shoveling gravel – anytime someone whines about how bad their day is at work, I say or think, ‘At least you aren’t shoveling gravel’. Try it sometime, seriously. All other jobs will become the best job you have ever had.
    Appreciate everything, all situations teach you something. When one door closes, another opens, be ready for it and don’t dwell on the day to day stresses. Pursue happiness. The pursuit is the reward.

  139. Rick Says:

    21: Learn to realise that most Blogs are not here to give you inspiration, they are only here here to sell you underlying crap within the blog messages.

  140. Du Lich Da Lat Says:

    Learn to realise that most Blogs are not here to give you inspiration, they are only here here to sell you underlying crap within the blog messages

  141. Paraskumar Says:

    i wish i read this blog 3 years ago…i would have been a different person….well its never to late …thanks author sir!!! God bless you.

  142. Dana Says:

    Excellent list. But I feel you left out two big ones that often don’t come easily to young people:

    1.Do something to help those less fortunate than you. Whether it be on an individual, informal basis or through an established organization. It’s best to give of yourself in ways that suit your personality and talents but if you can’t do something anyway. Do it often and you will leave the world just a little better than the way you found it. Plus it’s enormously rewarding.

    2. Stay in touch and try to maintain good relations with the members of your family. When you get old, you’ll find that family becomes tremendously important.

  143. hank Says:

    Great advice but I don’t agree that we should only look for unbroken people; first of all most people have problems and second of all if everyone did this then the world is in trouble.

  144. Vinay Says:

    Great post, a healthy food for thought and a read that turns the searchlight inward…. Thanks so much.

  145. lizzie Says:

    this whole post pisses me the hell of …….. im 16 and although i agree with some of this shit.. it is shit, LIFE SHOULD SIMPLY BE EXPERIENCED NOT PRACTICED okkkkkkk. all these lists are just building up the pressure to be this perfect being who has a perfect life and no regrets fuck that

    • Christian Says:

      Yep, you’re definitely 16.

      The point of the post is, and you will soon find out when you have a job, a family, is that life repeats itself. Day in and day out.

      The list is to help you break the cycle of “blah blah blah”.

      Many people actually need to be reminded of this or motivated to “poke the box” if you will.

      You don’t understand at 16, no one does, I sure didn’t. As a 25 year old though, it’s all starting to make sense. Heres a tip, stop being negative and try to see the positive aspect of things. Think HOW this list can help me instead of WHAT THE F THIS IS BS, I HATE THE WORLD.

      -2cents

  146. Ali Says:

    Alot of this is putting way too much pressure on young people, as if they are all privileged enough to do all the crazy shit. Lets not forget that people in their 20′s are not superhuman…

    I’m a 25 year old female, and this list just give me anxiety on top of the anxiety I already carry each and every day. No, I will not stay thin fuck yall, everyone is gonna die.

  147. Perry Sona Says:

    Still a teenager but a lot of this makes sense now. I clicked on number 13 and I find that it’s actually fun and it opens new doors. About half of this stuff I’m pretty sure I’ve done or at least thought of doing.

  148. angry college student Says:

    “From bank fees to interest rates to miracle diets, people who are not educated are easier to get money from and easier to lead. Educate yourself as much as possible for wealth, independence, and happiness.”

    …UMM too bad I need to pay loan interest/bank fees in ORDER to get an education.

    • Christian Says:

      I think what the author is referring to is:

      You can avoid certain fees if you keep your balance at “x” minimum or transfer “x” amount into a savings account every month.

      Same with interest rates, if your credit score was “x” then you could have a rate of “y” instead of “z”. Or don’t pay late or your rate will rise from this to that.

      Obviously, some things are unavoidable, but if you educate yourself on what YOU can affect, then you will be better off.

  149. Genius Says:

    Wow this is exactly me in my mind ! Never have done things like this before but now as I know that there are people like me then I am surely going all out now ! Hell yaa I mean it ! Thanks for making me realize ! love yaa ! :)

  150. Nyle Says:

    Broken people need help, you may not be able to fix them but you can improve them as long as you remain patient. Don’t turn your back on fellow humans.

  151. Mr Llewellyn Says:

    Will there be an upgraded version of this for 2014? Some of the links are not working and I’m sure you will have developed some new techniques by now…

  152. Ava Says:

    I don’t agree with you saying “find someone who isn’t broken”. Everyone has something that damages them even if it is a little crack or a break. Everyone gets hurt emotionally and it damages them a little each time; but that’s just my opinion.

  153. elise Says:

    #20… People can’t help it if they’re broken. The others I agree with. But seriously, you’re going to write someone off just because they had a rough childhood? They didn’t choose to. I myself just recently got out of an almost 2 year relationship with someone helping me get my feet on the ground and bettering myself- I’m sorry that they had to deal with me, but the appreciation that I feel towards them I cannot even put into words. I will miss them, but it is their time do do their thing and no longer will they have to worry about me. They’re a wonderful person and I will tell that to every single person that I meet.

  154. George Says:

    Cool list. But I disagree with 5, 8, and 20.

    Disagree with 5 because shyness can be a strength rather than something that you need to improve.

    Disagree with 8 because that is the most pretentious thing I have ever read in the Internet. I have been taught over and over again that if you’re doing something just to look cool or to impress people, than you have the wrong intention.

    Disagree with 20 because come on, who isn’t broken? I’m sure you’re broken too. Leaving people JUST because they’re broken is just a cruel thing to do. You’re not asked to fix the person, but just be there for him or her.

    The others are fine but because of these three major flaws in your lists, I no longer feel like you’re reliable enough for life advices.

  155. Jaclyn Says:

    I love this. I am 21 and I pretty nuch already do/know all these things. ESPECIALLY the last one! And reading! and getting educated! Everyone needs to see this. thank you.

  156. Niels Says:

    Who says the only thing you can do with “broken” people is to fix them? The only thing broken at someone is just that they’re lonely in the first place, and why do you think THAT is? It’s a vicious circle. All you need to do is be there. If they seek your help to get fixed it’s because they want to be a better person for YOU, because either of you thinks they’re not good enough for you.

    I’ve been best friends with someone who’s “broken” for five years. Things went better when I did two things: 1 stop trying to fix them, and 2 have zero tolerance for taking things personal.

  157. ashok Says:

    i am 20 and i know it now

  158. San Says:

    Some I agree with, some I don’t, some makes me anxious, some makes me regret, but altogether, it does make me think.

  159. Ed Fernandez Says:

    So… What is wrong with being conservative??

    The world was not trying to keep me stupid when I was young. I kept myself stupid by doing some of the crazy shit you are promoting people to do…

    There is nothing wrong with being shy. Being an introvert is just as cool as keeping to yourself. Accept yourself as you are. Yes try to improve, but accept your God given make up.

    If you feel weird about something, speak up, share your feelings and your thoughts about it. Ask questions, learn what the other person is like. Feel the fear but ask anyway.

    If you were not afraid to read this response until now, then pat yourself in the back. For one thing, the whole post is a real good one. It probably made you THINK.
    By the way, I AM an old fart in progress… LOL

    Thanks Julien. Well done.

  160. scout Says:

    True about the stupid constantly being bilked, but they are trained to NOT save plus now our ruling Fed Reserve has made saving money stupid.

    Second the ‘educated’ are just as stupid about being victims of constant wasteful spending. Education has nothing to do with the ability to sort things out unless the learner somehow applies the abstractions to everyday life and this is not possible for most. And our ruling gangster elite are fully aware of this major phenomenon. Like Hitler correctly stated, ‘how lucky for rules to lead people that do not think.’

  161. Laura Kennelly Says:

    Speed reading: it is like any other skill, takes 10,000 hours of practice. People who read a lot as kids will likely be faster than those who did not, but it is possible to improve. Speed reading non-fiction, if it is well written, is always faster. I’m one of those old people, multiple degrees (English). Hope that helps, not discourages (read whatever grabs your interest when practicing…even 50 Shades).
    Most of these suggestions I found spot on. Adventure doesn’t require one to travel; raising five children was a tremendous earthquake of an adventure for me!

  162. Christian Says:

    #13 learning to program has always been on my “to do” list.

    However, it just feels so daunting because I have no idea where to start (front end, back-end) and I also have no idea what I want to be able to do with my new “skills”. Nothing in my life/job requires programming, but I certainly could be adding significantly more value to them if I could.

    Is this one of those, just start somewhere missions and eventually it would evolve into what I need it to be?

  163. Paula Says:

    I think some comments misunderstand #20. I think it’s just meant to say, find someone who fits you, whose life completes your story. You can’t change people or fix them. So find someone whose broken parts make sense to you. Then, you won’t waste time fixing them, just loving them for who they are, broken and all.

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