I’m turning 26 in a few weeks and I realized I’ve never written anything like this before. So before I officially mark another trip around the sun, I might as well write one. I don’t know about you, but being a quarter of a century old somehow made me feel like I’ve hit a milestone. After a brush with death THREE TIMES, I’ve had several opportunities to examine my life. We never know when’s our last goodbye so to reach this age is both a blessing and a milestone. One that deserves to be celebrated.
Here are 25 things I learned in 25 years.
1. If you run out of ‘firsts’, go and make one.
One sad thing about growing up is that one day, you will come to a point where you just run out of something new to try for the first time.
First trip, kiss, camping experience… All these firsts make us feel alive.
This is something that I value a lot that is why I push myself to try new things as much as possible. There will be times when you think you’ve run out firsts and it sucks. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from this is that you can always create first moments every day. And that your old ‘firsts’ can still feel like the first time if you just change your perspective.
2. Bread tastes better when you toast it.
It doesn’t matter how dry, crumbly, or bland it is; bread tastes so much better when you toast it. That realization led me to compare toasting bread to skin care. It sounds ridiculous, but hear me out, please.
You see, we could just simply eat a piece of sliced bread, but instead, we spend another 2-3 minutes toasting it. We don’t have to do it, but we do because we want to transform a regular-looking sliced bread and make it better. That extra 2-3 minute makes a huge difference.
I am not a skincare junkie. Heck, I don’t even care how I look before heading out the house. It took me a long time to realize that taking care of your skin is not about appearances. It’s about spending more time with yourself so you look and feel good. So whenever I feel like slathering that moisturizer on my skin is such a chore, I just think of myself as toasted bread. I will
taste look and feel better if I spend more time prepping myself.
3. You must never stop learning.
“Learning is a never-ending process.” I’ve probably heard this phrase a million times, but sometimes, I feel like I still need to be reminded all the time. Some of us just stop trying to learn something new after school, but education should not end there. Learn a new skill or improve an old one. Every year, I’ve made it a habit to enroll in either an online course or class about storytelling. Investing in yourself is so powerful – one that will grow in time and definitely create results.
4. Let your direct experience with God be your spiritual education.
Our direct experience with the Divine is a better spiritual education than having to religiously follow philosophies, dogmas, beliefs, and meditation techniques. I used to feel bad that I am no longer part of a ministry and that I stopped being an evangelist. I was lost for some time finding my purpose. It was only recently that I realized what I am currently doing is my ministry. And with that realization, I found peace. For someone who is aspiring to live a spiritual life, this I believe, is God’s highest teaching for me.
5. Cheese is its own thing.
You cannot replace cheese. In a world where you can now have ‘alternatives’ or ‘healthier options’, there are still so many things that can never be replaced. And one of those is cheese. Vegan cheese is simply not a cheese for me.
I am an aspiring vegan, although I still haven’t taken ALL the necessary steps to get there. Living a healthier and a more conscious lifestyle is the goal, but it’s so hard. I tried to be a vegetarian for a month so I can slowly transition to veganism. I survived, but I needed to eventually eat meat again because I still haven’t worked around how to change my habits and routine. Damn, I still can’t give up dairy.
Oh, cheese. Why do you have to taste so good?
6. Being self-sufficient and emotionally independent is something to be proud of.
I left home at an early age and have worked my ass off ever since. Being self-sufficient and independent is something I am really proud of. Over the years of living independently, I’ve also learned to be emotionally independent and I didn’t have to depend on anyone’s thoughts or opinions for me to fulfill my responsibilities. While it’s not entirely a bad thing to ask for help, doing things on your own can help you become a strong and independent person – someone who doesn’t need the validations of other people.
Never lose sight of your individuality. That’s your weapon.
7. “The world is not happening to you. You are happening in the world.”
I found this quote several years ago while I was endlessly scrolling on Tumblr. And it made me realize that I needed to become a more active participant in the world. I learned that in order for this world to become a better place for everyone, I need to stop being just a silent observer. So I started to get involved. After all, life is so much better when you are actively participating in it.
Also Read: 10 Ways to a Plastic-Free Life
8. You can’t be yourself if you don’t know yourself.
“Be yourself.” That’s what they all say. But how can you be yourself when you don’t even know yourself in the first place? Take a break. Pause for a while. And between those moments, learn who you truly are.
9. A great living space can help spark creativity.
I used to not give a shit about establishing a personal space at home to foster creativity. If I can work on my bed while still in my pajamas, why do I have to do it on an office table? But working as a creative for several years made me realize that creativity is a discipline and building a creative space in your home can help spark it.
It doesn’t have to be fancy. So long as you designate a special spot in your home where you can practice your craft every day is enough.
10. Travel with a purpose.
Over the years of traveling, I’ve had some eye-opening lessons that made me change the way I travel. Too many times in the past where I just travel to see new places and cultures without gaining much upon returning. Traveling is a privilege that is hard to give up. So I make it to a point where I set prior intentions why I am going to a place. I used to travel to escape the reins of my daily routines but what impact do I leave when I visit a foreign land? Will going to this place contribute to my growth? I’ve changed my mindset over traveling.
I can live out of a backpack, stay in a remote island, and live like a local for a few weeks. But what for? So now, I travel with a purpose. Otherwise, do I really have to travel at all?
11. There’s nothing wrong with you if you can’t feel any romantic feelings right now.
Some of my friends and family are worried that I got ‘too fucked up’ by my previous relationship that I just couldn’t find it in my heart to get into the dating scene even after 2 years. I may have been so heartbroken in the past, but I am alright. I learned that there is nothing wrong with me even though I can’t just feel any romantic feelings for anyone. You cannot force yourself to love someone romantically. You just do. So until that time comes, there’s nothing wrong with just focusing on your personal goals.
Also read: 4 Inspiring Travel Couples You Should Follow
12. Your parents are going through their own journeys – just like you.
We look up to our parents and often assume that they already have figured out life. They have not. They just happen to have more experience in life than you. When I was younger, I assumed that my Mama and Papa knows everything and can give me the answers I need. But as I grew older, I realized that they are just as clueless about life as I am. They became more human to me. It’s so hard to imagine our parents had lives before we arrived in the picture. Just recently, I started asking my Mama what her life was like before she got married and I was surprised by her stories. And it made me understand my wild side because when she was younger, she also had a wild streak in her.
Also read: Laagan Nga Mama
13. Question your beliefs.
I was born in an evangelical Christian family. For a long time, that was how I identified myself. At 13 years old, I became so interested in knowing more about God through the Bible that I read it 3 times in less than a year. I became an evangelist and started preaching the Word of God in school, in the streets, and wherever I see an opportunity. But I did all of those things because I thought that was expected of me as an evangelical Christian. And then a significant event in my life made me question my beliefs. It wasn’t that I did not believe in God anymore. I started seeing God in a different light. Why do I believe in the things that I do? Have I ever questioned what I was taught as a child? I started educating myself with what I believe rather than telling people what they should.
You don’t necessarily have to change your beliefs. Just make sure that you truly understand them. Not because someone told you to do so.
Also read: TRAVELING AS A WAY OF WORSHIPING GOD
14. Fuck minimalism. It’s all about knowing the value of each things you have in your life.
I’m a minimalist and has been one ever since I was a child. I just don’t like having too much stuff that doesn’t give value to my life. Right now, I only own less than 50 clothes and that include pants, jackets, shirts, underwear – everything. I rarely buy new clothes and in fact, all the nice clothes that I own were given to me by my family. I also own less than 5 shoes, 1 lipstick, 1 powder – 1 for everything. For books, I only buy those that I know I will read over and over again. If not, I only buy them on Kindle. So for years, I try to teach people to do the same because, for me, minimalism can really help you declutter not just you’re home, but also your life. Less clutter means a better life. But then I realized that not all people are like me. Some girls want to have 30 shades of lipstick because it adds value to their life. I learned that it doesn’t matter how much stuff your own – so long as everything adds value to your life.
15. Take long walks.
I love taking long walks. I used to do it in college to save money, but now I do it to have some time to think. When I was still living in Cebu City, I would often walk alone for 3-4 hours from my apartment in Lahug to Colon Street and back. Sometimes, I would walk from Lahug to Mountain View. I learned that the more I walk, the more I get my creative juices flowing. I believe the act itself not just increases your blood flow, but also stimulate your brain. So take more long walks and keep that heart pumping.
16. Adulthood starts with financial independence.
Adulthood is not defined by your age. It’s not even defined by your ‘independence from your parents’. You could be living away from your parents, but still make stupid financial decisions that can wreak havoc not just your future, but also the people around you. For me, adulthood is defined by financial independence. It all starts by educating yourself financially. When you start learning how to become financially independent, you start thinking about your life and the life of your loved ones. You become more responsible for your actions.
17. Always choose to love.
There’s this question going rounds in social media today. “Mahal mo o mahal ka?” (The one you love or the one who loves you? “
All of us wants to love and be loved. I’d be a hypocrite to say that I don’t want to be loved. But this need and want to be loved often results to people wanting that unrealistic attention and affection from people. I learned that loving itself is already a reward.
So in this situation, always choose to love.
18. Stop tolerating your own mistakes.
Acceptance and tolerance are two different things. I learned the difference between these two the hard way. Never justify your failures. Tolerating your mistakes can often result in far worse things than you can ever imagine.
19. Make fun of yourself.
It’s better to make fun of yourself than others, right?
20. Just write.
I am very insecure about my writing and I would often hesitate to publish something because I always feel like it’s no good at all. This would sometimes affect my momentum and motivation to write. But I learned that in order to be good at this, I need to keep on writing. No matter how bad it is.
21. Jealousy makes you do stupid things.
Jealousy is a very dangerous emotion that can take over your life if you are not careful. I lost 6 years of my life because of it. But I am also thankful I went through it because I wouldn’t have learned anything. I used to take pride in myself as a genuinely cool person. Until jealousy took over. I am not proud of this, but it made me do some really stupid things. It took years but I thank God that I am finally free from the reins of jealousy.
You cannot avoid jealousy. It’s normal and sometimes, it’s even a good thing. Because that means you are trying to defend yourself. When you value monogamy in your relationship, it’s healthy to set of boundaries and it’s normal to feel jealous and get worried sometimes. But it shouldn’t take over your life.
I learned that jealousy is just like your neighbor’s rowdy cat. Every now and then, that cat sneaks into your house and you have to shoo it away because you don’t want it messing up your house. But then sometimes, you pity that cat, so when it sneaks in, you feed it with whatever scraps of food you have. When your boyfriend/girlfriend or friends visit your house, they also feel pity and reasons out, “It’s just a cat.” So they feed that rowdy cat, too. Eventually, your neighbor’s rowdy cat becomes comfortable sneaking into your house often, leaving you with no choice but to just accommodate it. While it’s true that it is just a cat, always remember that it is not your cat.
That jealousy, it’s just there. You can feed it. Your partner can feed it. Both of you are responsible for whatever comes after that. 🙂
Also read: My Spirit is still in Transit
22. Visit your OB Gyne
If you’re a woman, no matter how young or old you are, have your flower checked regularly! I repeat; REGULARLY. I have PCOS but it took me a long time to take it seriously because I didn’t want a doctor checking my private parts. But it’s always good to get checked regularly so you are fully aware of your reproductive health. I still have hesitations every time I need to visit an ob-gyn, but I learned that it’s always better to be fully informed than be kept in the dark. So girls, have yourself checked!
23. Cherish the time you have with your family.
“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” – Jane Howard
I’ve been gone for a long time and only visited my family once or twice a year before. Because of this, I feel like there’s a wall between me and my siblings. I am not as close to them as I should be. My parents are sometimes shy to approach me when they need help. This really made me sad. I am doing my best now to be there for them when they need me. They won’t always be there. Spend time with your family.
24. Rapists cause rape.
25. In the end, what matters is the person you would want to spend the rest of your life with.
I will never forget what my Mama told me 2 years ago.
She asked, “Is he the one you can imagine to be with in sickness, in health, in poverty, in everything until you die?” I answered, “No.”
“Then you did the right thing. What matters, in the end, is the person you choose to spend the rest of your life with.”
That person could be someone else.
It could also be me. ❤️