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This article was first published 10 years ago

10 things I wish I knew when I was 20

Last updated on: April 23, 2014 11:00 IST

Image: Chetan Bhagat
Photographs: Courtesy Chetan Bhagat

On his 40th birthday, the bestselling author looks back at his life and has a few words of advice for himself :-)

Forty is a landmark year in most people's life.

The big four oh always makes you want to look back at your life and reassess it.

And it doesn't matter how successful you are, there will always be things you wished you would have done when you were younger.

On his 40th birthday, we asked India's most popular author what he would have liked his 20-year-old self to know.

This is what Chetan Bhagat had to say:

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1. Figure out your passions sooner

Image: Ask yourself what is your true calling and make a leap for it.
Photographs: Dominic Ebenbichler/Reuters

My first book came out when I was 30.

Sometimes I wish I would have figured out what I wanted to do sooner.

I know it is not always possible to know what you want when you're 20 but I think it took me a fairly a long time to find my calling.

I really wish I had started earlier.

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Tags: 1

2. Take better care of your health

Image: Learn to embrace a healthier lifestyle
Photographs: Daniel Munoz/Reuters

You're 20. You don't care about your health.

But know this -- as you grow older, your metabolism drops, your immunity drops. It doesn't get easier.

Have a healthy diet.

Be more health conscious.

When I was in my 30s or so I never gave my health much thought.

I said to myself: People are reading my books and that is all that matters.

It is not.

It wasn't long before I embraced a healthier lifestyle.

When you are fit you feel better, function better.

So yes, dear 20-year-old self, do take care of your health.

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3. Don't be so angry

Image: The world isn't a perfect place; learn to embrace it with its flaws rather than fight it all the time.
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

The world isn't a perfect place.

There are a lot of things going wrong here.

And I know you are angry with it.

Don't be so angry with everything.

Know that you cannot control everything.

Know that being angry doesn't help.

Be patient.

Learn to let go.

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4. Take your time in relationships

Image: Take your time before you commit yourself to a relationship.
Photographs: Sharayah Sherry, USA/Wikimedia Commons

You are young; you don't know what it is that you want and if you don't know that yet, you certainly don't know what you want from your partner.

So take your time before you commit to a relationship.

Don't rush into them.

Know that there is a difference between attraction and love.

Don't mistake one for the other.

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5. Maintain friendships

Image: There's nothing quite like a good friend to take you through the world, is there now?
Photographs: Vivek Prakash/Reuters

The 20s are the time when you step into the 'real world'.

You get busy with your career and you lose touch with your school and college friends.

Don't let that happen!

Stay in touch; maintain friendships; cherish them.

Make efforts to reach out to your friends.

You will surely meet them on something called 'Facebook' eventually :-)

But it won't be the same. So don't lose touch.

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Tags: 1

6. Travel a little more

Image: Go forth! Travel! There's nothing quite like it!
Photographs: James Arnold/Reuters

I know you don't have a lot of money but you can travel with little money too.

Expand your horizons.

Get out of your comfort zone.

Get away from where you are.

There is nothing quite like finding yourself in a place that you don't call home! :-)

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Tags: 1

7. Read books

Photographs: Miguel Vidal/Reuters

You will have your Ayn Rands and you will have those racy magazines circulating in the boy's hostel.

But hey, make more books part of your life.

There is nothing quite like reading good books.

Also, I know you have been a science student and are graduating in engineering but have you considered getting yourself a liberal arts education?

It gives you a more rounded view of life.

Think about it :-)

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Tags: Ayn Rands

8. Sleep better

Image: Take a good night's rest; it's the best gift you can give yourself.
Photographs: Jason Lee/Reuters

How long did you sleep last night?

You sleep late; you don't wake up on time.

You don't wake up on time; you feel terrible through the day.

It's a vicious circle. Common sense really.

And oh, all nighters won't get you too far in life.

They aren't very healthy. Psst. See point one :-)

Having a disciplined life may not seem cool but it is important.

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9. Get your priorities right

Image: What are your priorities? Money? Love? Figure them out!
Photographs: Jeff J Mitchell/Reuters

How important is love? How important is money?

What would you like really like to do?

Give it some thought!

The sooner you get your priorities right, the better it will be for you!

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10. Don't hurt people

Image: Don't break hearts; be less harsh
Photographs: Reuters

You are 20; you are brash; you hurt people.

Sometimes you hurt them even without realising it!

Be sensitive. Be aware of what you're doing.

Don't break hearts.

Be less harsh; be kind and you will find yourself a more satisfied man.

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