Here's a little advice I gave someone recently.
When your thinking process is good, you almost don't have to learn openings. You can play pretty solid moves without studying them because you understand them. Of course, you still have to learn variations. It becomes easier and faster once your thinking process is good. Understanding why a move is accurate is 100000000000000000000000000000% more important than memorizing any variations.
I don't know if you've ever heard of it, but there are many kinds of advantages:
space advantage, material advantage of course, more development, better pawn structure, pieces ankered on good outposts, controlling an open file just to name a few. These are all things a player should know.
However, here's something simpler. Chess is all about keeping your pieces as fluently active as possible.
Gaining space gives you more room to manoeuvre your pieces whereas outposts give your pieces more scope. Finally, weak pawns can be targeted and overloaded or tactically won.
All these kinds of advantages are related to getting your pieces more active. Understanding these essential notions allows us to know when it is good to get a specific kind of advantage.