If you’ve had these 8 life experiences, you’re probably wise beyond your years

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Wisdom is something we all acquire as we get older.

But as we all have different journeys, some people collect much more wisdom than the average person of their age.

Like one particular Instagram influencer that I follow. Though I don’t know him personally, he shares a lot about his life publicly. 

And it’s pretty clear from his experiences that he’s definitely someone wise beyond his years.

Could you be one of these people too? If you’ve had these 8 life experiences, there’s a good chance you are.

1) Facing significant adversity or failure

It’s a hard pill to swallow, but failure can be our greatest teacher

When we fall and hit rock bottom, we’re given a unique perspective that most people don’t see until later in life. It’s from this low point that we can truly grow, learning resilience, perseverance, and the importance of never giving up on ourselves. 

I could see this quite clearly in the influencer I mentioned above. He tried starting two local businesses — a restaurant, and a barber shop — and both of them failed.

Then he started a number of online businesses, some of which were successful, but some of which weren’t. 

He had to shut one of them down pretty quickly, and he also shared that he lost a significant amount of money in one of his financial investments. 

It was very difficult, but he came out the other side stronger and more aware, and it taught him to value success not for the accolades, but for what he learned along the journey. 

2) Traveling or living in different cultures

The world is a vast and varied place, and stepping out of our comfort zone to explore different cultures can lead to profound insights. 

This was something the influencer I follow discovered as he traveled the world, living in different countries, absorbing their customs, languages, and ways of thinking. 

And it wasn’t all fun and luxury either — he also spent considerable time volunteering in developing countries and living among the locals to get to know their culture and lifestyle. 

He himself says that these experiences didn’t just broaden his horizons, but they also shaped his understanding of humanity, compassion, and the interconnectedness of us all. 

If you’ve had the opportunity to immerse yourself in various cultures, you probably know that it’s more than just a journey across the globe — it’s a path to wisdom

3) Mentoring or teaching others

We tend to think of wisdom as something we learn from others — but the other side of the coin is teaching.

When you guide someone on their journey, you’re not just imparting knowledge — you’re learning from them as well. 

After he got a huge following, the influencer I follow started developing courses to help others learn to start their own online business, give travel tips, and also teach how to take creative photos and videos for social media.

Of course, his students get immense value from him, but he often emphasizes that these interactions were never one-sided. 

Teaching others makes him reflect on his own experiences and see them through fresh eyes. It fosters a sense of responsibility, understanding, and deeper connection to those you help. 

4) Dealing with a serious illness or disability

Unfortunately, wisdom doesn’t just come from positive experiences — the most growth tends to happen from challenges, and one of the hardest ones to go through is a serious illness or disability.

The influencer I follow had his own brush with this harsh reality when his father was diagnosed with cancer. Heartbreakingly, his father passed away shortly afterwards. 

He understandably took some time for himself to grieve and be with his family.

But instead of retreating from life, he soon came back to his online passion and shared his journey openly with his followers, including his struggles, his pain, but also his triumphs and learnings.

He showed us that wisdom isn’t just about what you know. It’s about how you face the unknown, the uncomfortable, and the downright scary parts of life. 

And that’s an experience that teaches you resilience, gratitude, and an awareness of your own strength and vulnerability. 

5) Serving others through volunteer work

The power of selflessness and giving back to others is a cornerstone of wisdom, and it’s something the influencer I follow learned through his extensive volunteer work. 

He’s spent months working with various charities and NGOs, giving his time, energy, and love to those who are less fortunate. 

From building schools in rural areas to organizing beach cleanups in holiday destinations, his commitment to serving others has been more than just a photo op. 

He often talks about how these experiences have humbled him, taught him the value of empathy, and allowed him to see the world through others’ eyes. 

If you’ve ever volunteered, you probably recognize that these selfless acts are a gateway to a richer understanding of life and a wisdom that goes beyond your years.

6) Long-term relationships and friendships

Every relationship — and I dare say even interaction — that you’ve ever had has certainly taught you something, no matter how long or short.

But navigating the dynamics of long-term relationships and friendships is especially valuable for getting wisdom.

The influencer I follow doesn’t speak so openly about this topic in particular, because he protects the privacy of the people in his life.

But if you follow him for longer, you start to see hints that he has had a very wide range of relationships in his life. Some of them have blossomed into lifelong connections, while others have ended in painful lessons.

What he does share openly is the work it takes to maintain meaningful relationships, including the necessity of trust, communication, forgiveness, and mutual respect. 

But he’s also learned that not all relationships are meant to last forever, and he’s had to let go of some connections that were toxic or no longer served him positively.

7) Taking risks and leaving comfort zones

Are you someone who likes to take risks and expand your comfort zone? 

Most people would answer “yes” to this question, because they know it’s the answer that points to greater wisdom.

But the only real indicator that you’re wise beyond your years is if your actions back this up.

This is very obvious on the influencer’s page. His posts are flooded with comments of people saying “I wish I could have done that” or “If only my life looked like yours.”

But what these people seem to overlook is that their lives could look like his — if only they were willing to take the same risks as he did!

And there were many of them, from quitting his job to start his entrepreneurial endeavors, to venturing into new countries without any guarantee of success. 

It wasn’t always a smooth journey; he encountered obstacles and setbacks that could have easily deterred someone less determined. But he continually demonstrated that taking calculated risks can lead to unanticipated rewards and personal growth.

8) Being responsible for others

The last experience that shows you’re probably wise beyond your years is if you’ve had to be responsible for others.

This doesn’t just include children — the influencer I look up to doesn’t have any at the time of writing.

But, he does have a dog — and while we can’t compare animals to kids, we can all agree that caring for a pet is in and of itself a big responsibility.

Other examples of this is when you have employees, or take care of elderly family members. 

In a way, even his followers are people he’s somewhat responsible for — they listen to him and value his opinions so he always thinks carefully about what he shares with his community. 

The different experiences with responsibility that the influencer has had have taught him better empathy, understanding, and putting others’ needs above his own.

It’s a delicate balance of strength and compassion, decisiveness and flexibility. And it’s about seeing the bigger picture and understanding how your actions affect those around you. 

All of these things, of course, contribute to your wisdom. 

Developing your wisdom far beyond your years

If you’ve had these 8 experiences, there’s a very strong chance that you’re wise beyond your years. 

But if you haven’t, remember, life is not a race. There are more ways than one to gain wisdom, and you will surely collect lots of it on your own unique path.

The most important thing to becoming a wise person is having an open mindset and intention towards it. 

It’s not just a result of age, but born from the courage to face life head-on, learn from every success and setback, and seek understanding from the unfamiliar.

Embrace each opportunity to do this with an open heart and an eager mind. The road to wisdom is wide open, and it’s yours to explore. 

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Justin Brown

As co-founder of Ideapod, a digital publishing platform reaching millions, and creator of The Vessel, a new platform for self-knowledge, I bring a unique perspective to the world of culture, politics and psychology. With a M.Sc. from the London School of Economics and M.A. (First Class Honours) from the Australian National University, I've dedicated my career to understanding and sharing new ideas and perspectives for a new generation.

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