26 Things I Learnt When I Was 26

Birthday Post!! On my 27th birthday I reflect on the 26 things the previous year taught me.


Madri Mankad

2 years ago | 5 min read

This was definitely one of the most challenging years, there is a lot of truth in the saying that reality is stranger than fiction. Personally and professionally, it felt like walking into a dark room, grappling for something to hold on to. After much procrastination, here are 26 things I learned when I was 26 -

  1. Time changes everything, there is a strong sense of impermanence to our lives. There is a range of emotions between bone-deep joy and soul-crushing sadness, however, I hope to narrow this span of extremes into mellow acceptance. I strongly relate to the saying that I serendipitously came across — ‘If you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those imposters just the same, accept it without arrogance and let it go with indifference’
  2. I have to prove nothing to anyone, it is easy to get into a subconscious habit of seeking approval, low-key people-pleasing, but in this life, I want to ferociously be on my team.
  3. There are different kinds of intelligence in the world — quantitative, social, emotional, logical, and so on. In school, you are tested on just some. It is okay to not be the conventionally smartest person in a room.
  4. The most important gift is health — physical and mental. Prioritize it over everything else, don’t hesitate to seek out professional help if you must. Especially with mental health, it maybe difficult for the people around you to sense, you yourself might dispel it as a spell of sadness but acknowledge your own state and free yourself from the prison of repetitive thoughts and undermining beliefs. Over the course of last year speaking with mental health professionals helped me cope.
  5. When you make a mistake, stove the ego aside and apologize. It sounds simple but at times it is so hard to do especially at the precipice of an argument, mentally tracing the hurt you may have imparted to someone and while they were doing the same to you, like an intricate but a very useless game of relationship chess.
  6. Trust your gut, when you know you know but then the logical part of you still wishes to weigh in all the options, draw in the pros and cons list, go along the ride looking for perfection. However, learn to tune and trust your own self when it comes to decision making.
  7. Forgiveness is important in all sorts of relationships, give people a chance, the ideal does not exist and that is okay, in fact the lack of ideal also leads to surprises. Accept that they realize and at their core have your best interests, they love you the way they know how to love someone.
  8. It took me a long time to say things as it is and not slide down the slippery slope of silent treatment. Some conversations are tough but be brave and have them, state your needs, they are not unreasonable.
  9. Be there for people even if you fully don’t understand what they are going through. All you need to do is listen. I think I have sailed past this year because friends from my undergrad and work would listen to me patiently when I was having a tough time at B-School without having experienced it themselves.
  10. You outgrow some people and that is okay, the important thing is that you tried. The forks met when they had to and imparted the colors that they were supposed to.
  11. A good night’s sleep is underrated, I am a completely different albeit happier and balanced person on 8 hrs. of sleep (Well, let’s be honest, even 7 would do)
  12. Some things are not for you and that is okay. At B-School there were circles I would fit in and certain I would not, the acceptance of self despite it being different from conventional expectations is tough but necessary.
  13. Family is precious and important. Call your parents and sister often, send them pictures of everyday mundane things, tell them about your day, no matter what changes in life like the seasons, family is a sturdy tree in middle of it all.
  14. Have a happy kit- a song, a movie, a meal that would make you feel better. Feel all the feelings even if unpleasant but have a kit that would brighten your spirits on a dreary day. In 2020 my happy kit consisted of the following — using an oil diffuser with lavender oil, two songs — Dance Money by Tones and I, Don’t Stop Believing by Journey, and a summer corn salad bowl by Urban Kissan.
  15. Sometimes I think that the aim of your life is to accept all parts of yourself and love yourself, everyone you meet — friends, partners and everything you encounter are just mirrors to enable that. The journey is of self-love and actualization.
  16. Cleaning is a great stress buster, putting things in order feels like putting my life in order, the ennui disappears and it feels like there is space for new things in life.
  17. Little things compound to big things, sort them out no matter how petty you perceive them to be in both personal and professional context.
  18. If there is one virtue that I hold very close to my heart is kindness, especially in relationships and friendships, you never know what the other person is going through.
  19. Expect less. Finito.
  20. Nothing really means anything, because life is fluid. Good and the bad, they come and go. Accept it with grace.
  21. When it comes to your dreams, go all out, take a deep dive into the unknown, scary parts, it is okay to not know things, ask a ton of questions even if you feel like they make you seem novice. Experience everything deeply even the parts that are unpleasant and learn from them. Stay true to your heart’s desire, don’t be afraid to acknowledge your authentic self.
  22. You do not have to know everything every time, make a team of people with specific expertise and work together. It is wonderful to work with people who are different in their core intelligence from you, there’s a lot to unlock, new perspectives to come across. On the same lines, at times you lead and at times you follow, depending on the task, your motivation and the person in question.
  23. Believe in yourself even if life may have taken you on a path that is different from what you had envisioned, hold on to your dreams and the idea of the life that you aspire.
  24. You accept the love, you think you deserve.
  25. Perfection in creativity is a hoax. The idea of creativity is to just create. Keep creating in your life! Despite the seemingly happening year with a lot of parties, social events, intoxication, and constant stream of something or the other happening, few of my favourite times were working out with a friend in the Yoga Room or just creating small 30 sec belly dance pieces.
  26. Time heals everything. Coming back to the bit about unplanned events and feeling a little lost — wait the storm out, take shelter in conversations with loved ones, being kind to yourself and seeking professional help if you must. Not everything has to make sense in the moment and perhaps things do not occur to make sense even, the point of everything is the journey itself.
On the SV4 ISB terrace on a full moon night, right after a workout, clicked by Akshita.


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Madri Mankad

I am a recent graduate from the Indian School of Business. Prior to that I was with a Fortune 500 insurance firm, donning my safety shoes and conducting engineering surveys for them all across the globe. I am passionate about mental health, nutrition and movement. The more I grow up, I realise that less I know and that's empowering because it's creates opportunities to chance upon new avenues.







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