Life as a 20-Year-Old? Uhhg!


 Abir Bouguerra

Aspiring journalist, entrepreneur, and a psychology PhD student, currently working in Lyon, France.

Chocolate, Art, Work, Dance, and Fun; I’m a combination of all that and a bit more.


Protected: Life as a 20-Year-Old? Uhhg!

Usually, twenty – or twenty something – is the age for people to ask the deepest – even most annoying – questions:

What should I do with my life? Should I continue my education? What kind of career should I choose? Am I ever going to become the person I always wanted to be?

Most of the time, we even question our abilities, skills and capabilities and wonder if our “baggage of knowledge” – and when I say knowledge I mean everything we have ever learnt in life up until this point – we have accumulated so far will equip us with the required competence to reach our ambitions.

Flickr: gfpeck

Flicker: gfpeck

I have obviously been going through these challenges, and I have also been asking myself all of these “deep,” confusing questions, but one thing that I have never allowed myself to do is to question my skills or my ability to achieve whatever I want to achieve.

It’s actually a bit ridiculous if we think about it; What does it mean to question yourself? What does it mean to put your mental abilities as a human being in question?  At the end of the day whatever you want to achieve is either going to require a set of skills that you already have and you need to develop a bit more, or a skill that you do not have and need to learn. In both cases, you are not asked to do “the impossible.” Having this kind of confidence –self confidence to be more specific– does not mean living with arrogance and believing you’re perfect, it rather means analyzing your behavior and reflecting on your faults/weaknesses on a regular basis to work on enhancing them.

At some point, this process becomes some form of  intellectual gymnastics that you could develop, not only as a defense mechanism to protect yourself/mind from drowning in negative/dark thoughts but also to develop your character and enhance your skills to enable you to reach your ambitions/goals. For me, this mechanism has always been based on reflection; reflecting on my thoughts, my actions, my inner voice, and especially my personality and my feelings. Even though this process has helped me grow as a person and has ensured a way to deal with all the destructing feelings  – especially those of “love” and “BS” that people our age are “supposed” to experience – I have been infinitely criticized for this. I have been called things like: Machine, robot, heartless, too fearless, inhuman, arrogant, workaholic, selfish, living in her own world, too ambitious, too busy for life… Funny how building my decisions on purely rational basis has made people – those I might consider close – think of me this way; but what’s even funnier is being called ambitious is an offense.


Flickr: Celestine Chua

This journey has, however, taught me so far that feelings are just feelings and emotions are just emotions. We have the ability to separate out our actions and feelings, and our minds certainly give us all the power we need not to mix things up and to stay focused on reaching our goals in life (once we have identified them, of course).

Thus, from where I stand today, and based on what I know at this point about this so-called “early life crisis,” here are some “secrets” that I want to share with you:

1- “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

everything you want is on the other side of fear

I read this quote on one of the blogs here on WordPress and I thought these words are very powerful and that I had to share them with you. But, seriously, let’s face it, we are young and we have infinite, unlimited possibilities laid in front of us, so why should we worry and why would we be afraid? If we make a mistake we can always correct it! Yes, always, no matter what it is, there is always a logical approach to it – and I’m not trying to be super optimistic here!

2- You are your only way to achieving your goals. This might be or sound obvious, bit in the midst of our busy life cycle and routine, it is a bit hard to remember this reality. Building on constructive criticism is a great way to grow in life but being criticized for certain aspects – like being ambitious! – is certainly something you do not need to bother listening to in the first place. So don’t let/ allow the outside voices confuse you, especially at this point of your life. And most importantly never allow anything or anyone to shake your self-confidence.

3- Allow yourself to choose and be aware of that choice: What defines you as who you are is that you know you are. At this point of our lives, we tend to craft our “personal images” – the images that we have of our selves. Some of us choose to present ourselves as people with class, some of us choose to be hippy, some others choose the nerdy life-style, and some even try them all before sticking to one life style, one way of thinking, one way of looking at things. This is obviously going to affect the later run of your life, but as long as you are aware of your choices – and by aware I mean your decision is coming from within you – then you should be completely satisfied and not show any regret about the turn of events, no matter what that would be. The way your life develops becomes solely your responsibility, and that’s exactly how things are supposed to be.

4- Don’t ever give up on your goals/ambitions (or what some of people love to call “dreams”). The goal that you set for yourself is literally your drive in life; Why would you want to lose your time in life because of some criticism?!

5- Every stage in life is highlighted by some difficulties; the best way to overcome them is to deal with them just as they are — never push them aside or try to avoid them. At this point, the biggest challenge is to make that decision of what to do with your life. After that, you will probably be faced with the challenge of living with that decision, and then at a later stage, you will introduce at least two more people to the life style you chose for yourself, and so if you classify these steps as obstacles and overwhelm yourself with that, you will only cause stress and dissatisfaction to yourself.

6- Never allow social media/random online posts to define the way you live your twenties. You’re not supposed to fall in love, it’s too destructing; You are supposed to live your life to the fullest and go crazy with everything especially love!  25 things to do in your twenties! –write a letter and play a sport! (Really?!)    It is posts like this one that could drive people crazy on top of asking all the “deep confusing questions” mentioned above in the midst of the early life crisis. So just make your own rules and live your twenties the way you want to!

Flicker: Khalid Maliki

Flicker: Khalid Maliki

If you stop reading at this point, you would still walk away with the actual point behind writing this post. But if you continue reading then you might find out that you will add some new concepts to your vocabulary of thoughts – What you will learn from this point on is probably associating fresh perspectives and definitions with old, overused, and even familiar words.

I have used so many key words here, that have been repeated a lot throughout this piece –like, skills, knowledge, capabilities, abilities, and competence – thus, allow me to define them for us, so we can all be on the page and base this intellectual “conversation” on the same ground.

(These definitions are taken from a research paper by Alina Beatrice Raileanu, entitled: EDUCATION-TRAINING-SKILLS SYSTEM FOR RESEARCHCOMPETENCY DEVELOPMENT)

1- Competence: In view of this document, competence is the ability of a person or group to carry out major tasks of learning (professional, social), at a performance level corresponding to a criterion or standard in a specific context. In another perspective, competence is a structured set of knowledge, skills and attitudes acquired through learning, which enable problem solving in new situations.Competencies are of different types and degrees of development and levels of specific products, differential learning. The concept of competencies is meaning of “organizing”against which are selected and organized learning content, training methods,assessment procedures. Competence is “red thread” that crosses all school and all courses of instruction, from primary school to high education.

2- Skills: are competence being implemented (for instance, within the framework of specific processes) and are the result of the Competence.As each skill is the result of a mix of elements/resources, the asset and self-reliance of a subject (and a worker, in particular)consist exactly in his/her being capable of producing a winning combination. The wider the baggage of resources an individual can count on, and his/her “excellence” in combining them, the highest would his/her level of skills mastery be, namely his/her knowing how to act in specific and new situations, in order to produce required/expected [I would also add satisfying to the self] output.

3- Knowledge: They mainly indicate the performed acquisition, memorizing, comprehension of a content (facts, concepts,rules, theories, etc.); they express a mental,formal, per se abstract command of operativeness. They are necessary in order to “know what” (enabling to understand a phenomenon, an object, a situation, an organisation, a process), to describe “how to do” and to know “how to proceed” and “what to adapt/adjust to” (enabling to have rules available, which can be used to take action)

4- Abilities/Organizational behavioral, Psychological resource: They refer to the set of an individual’s social representations, values, attitudes, behavioral features, talents and motivations. They could be described as the emotional, behavioral and ethical baggage which – although not strictly connected to a specific knowledge, guides an individual in his/her personal and professional life, thus making him/her more or less capable of positively interacting with social and work contexts. These are the most difficult resources to express and describe,but nonetheless they should not be neglected for this reason. On the labor market, these individual qualities are increasingly on demand. Their identification enables to explicitly transfer them into a specific organisational context. We must therefore identify qualities placed in a specific context,by stressing the qualities (values, behaviors…) which are required in a working context, and must be described accordingly.

It’s important to remember that what I do as a twenty year-old, what I learn and what I decide to put myself through is something completely and entirely personal!Why?! well simply:




One thought on “Life as a 20-Year-Old? Uhhg!

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