birthday,  life,  personal,  self,  thoughts

Life Lessons I Learned By 21

  1. Don’t burn bridges. No matter how much you might dislike a person, connections are vital. You never know when someone’s contact information might come in handy. More than that, it’s not always about just keeping numbers. It’s about staying in touch with the person and making an effort to grow a (deeper) relationship with him/her. Always keep the Golden Rule in mind: Don’t do unto others what you don’t want others do unto you. If you need their help now, chances are they will also ask for your help on something one day. Don’t be a afraid to pay forward the kindness they showed you when you were the one in need. It’s a give and take relationship. All that said, don’t burn bridges.
  2. Mind your manners. Sure, we were not born to please everybody, but we do have to mind our manners. Some days are just plain crappy but that doesn’t give us any right to bark at everyone we cross paths with. Manners go a long way – that goes without saying. I’m pretty sure it won’t kill you to at least make an effort to smile at the guy who opened the convenience store door for you, or even utter a small thank you. You also never know who you’re dealing with all the time. That woman taking her time ordering her Starbucks beverage who you happened to roll your eyes at (and she saw it, oops) could be your next boss. So be careful with your words and actions, and learn to tame your tongue. You’ll thank yourself one day.
  3. Strive to learn something from everyone you meet. I can’t emphasize this enough. Learning something from someone doesn’t always have to come in a magical form. It shouldn’t always have to be something that’s out of this world. It doesn’t always have to be in a positive form as well. It can be simple as keeping in mind not to wear your 5-inch stilettos when you’re crossing a footbridge because you will most likely trip from using the stairs, which is exactly what happened to the girl you were walking alongside with. Again, it doesn’t have to be big, but it can be deep. It can come from getting cooking tips from your aunt to gaining one-liner life lessons from a complete stranger. Whoever you meet in whatever circumstance and through whatever means, strive to learn something from him/her.
  4. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. This is something I’ve always had a hard time dealing with. It’s either I say too much, or too less. The words that come from my mouth never amounts to what I actually think. That, or I always have a hard time forming my thoughts into words, so it’s a bit ironic how I manage to keep up my blog. It’s hard to be vocal with a limited number of words. But that’s the beauty of it – there are no limits. You can say whatever you want, as long as you are not stepping on anyone and you get what you want. It’s actually a win-win situation if you ask me. From the wise words of Sara Bareilles, “Let the words fall out.” If you don’t like something, say it. If you feel something in your heart that you know is worth fighting for, spill it! Life is too short to leave words unspoken. But if you feel like puking your lungs out from too much anger and you just want to stab people with your hurtful words, please refer to lesson #2.
  5. Embrace your youth. Often times, I find myself dealing with frequently asked quarter-life crisis questions: “What am I doing with my life?”, “Who am I?”, “What am I here for?” then I catch myself remembering, wait.. I’m only 21 years old. Why am I even entertaining such thoughts? It’s not that easy to get rid of, of course, especially if you don’t really deal with it and just let the questions float in your head. The point is, every time I catch myself being miserable for a future that’s already laid out for me, I remind myself that I’m still young and have so much ahead of me. Life’s still got a lot to offer and running out of options won’t even happen. As for me, I may not have the best laid plans.. yet, but I sure will enjoy each and every day while I’m still young. I got enough old peeps around reminding me of that every day. There are so many things youngsters like me can still do that old people can no longer do. I won’t waste away my youth thinking 40 years ahead and worrying about wrinkles that don’t even exist yet. Besides, wrinkles are beautiful. It shows how far you’ve come in life. *wink, wink*
  6. Invest your time in building good relationships. There’s nothing more beautiful than meeting strangers and building good relationships with them. It doesn’t matter how many (or how few) your friends are as long as you know how to treasure each other. It’s better to have few friends that you can truly rely on than have a hundred “friends” on your social media accounts, with not even a single person consoling you when you’re in need. But trust is a vital ingredient in any relationship, so be careful who you give your trust to. It doesn’t take much to know if a person is genuine or not, unless he is a complete scumbag and is a master of faking friendships, then get away from that person immediately. I’m not only talking about strangers here, though. Relationships come in different forms. It can be with your family, your friends, your life partner, your pet, your boss, your colleagues, even with that sweet old grandpa who greets you with a smile every morning.
  7. Know the basics. This is very important and I am in no way expert on this, which makes it to my list. Considering that I am already 21, yet I still have much to learn. When I say basics, I’m referring to daily or monthly chores/activities such as paying bills, knowing your way around the city, taking care of household responsibilities, at least being aware of basic public transportation routes, knowing the logistics of places, and so on. It also helps to pay attention to street signs and cautions, to be attentive to human traffic during rush hours (especially when riding the train), and to know who to approach when you’re lost and it feels like you’re going in circles, or worse, heading to the opposite direction. Communication is very important here, too. You will get what you want if you know how to ask for it. Be keen to details and be extra attentive especially when you’re doing things on your own the first time. Make mental notes, invent shortcuts in your head for easy reference, or try to associate something familiar with the place you’re going to, or a street name that seems too mouthful, anything to help you get by. Knowledge on money matters will also go a long way. You don’t need a degree in finance to know your way in smart banking. Ask someone who’s educated in the field and you’re good to go. Or, Google.
  8. Be crafty. Unleash your creative juices and use your imagination to make something crafty. As for me, doodling and doing calligraphy helps ease my tense muscles and stop me from over-analyzing things when everything feels too overwhelming already. I let myself be creative and make my hands do all the art while I make my mind take a step back to relax and unwind. It not only applies with a pen and a paper, though. You can be creative in your own ways. You can paint on canvass, draw with charcoal, stitch up something, gather beautiful pictures and turn it into a collage. You can even go one step higher and challenge yourself – find an old equipment or gadget (or even trash!) in your house and recycle it into some piece of decoration or something else. It’s your call.
  9. Explore. Just get up from that lazy couch and let your feet take you wherever it wants you to be. A lot of you would probably have “travel” crossing your minds by the mention of the word “explore”. It doesn’t have to be as intense as hiking up on a mountain (but it can also be!). It can be as simple as taking a walk and exploring new places, unfamiliar blocks, streets you’ve never been to. Also, let your mind wander. When I feel uncertain about some things, I have a secret place I go to. It’s not as quiet, but it’s so close to nature. And when I’m close to nature, it enables me to invigorate my senses, thus making me more open-minded about things. There’s just something about afternoon walks and sunsets that calm me and help me think with a clearer head. All it takes for me is 30 minutes and I always feel refreshed afterwards. Aside from physical senses, exploration can also happen inside the head. Read different things, watch different shows, broaden your perspective, expand your horizons on various matters, etc.
  10. I am enough. I always let myself fall into the endless pit of self-pity. Someone out there is always more – more beautiful, more organized, more goal-oriented, more driven, more capable. But like the thousands of sea creatures living underwater, we are all unique. We possess different skills and talents and we are not meant to do the same things. My tendency to compare myself with others never fails to steal my joy. In the first place, I shouldn’t compare myself to others because I am not them. I am me, and I am enough. To quote Einstein himself, “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
  11. Take time to know yourself better. To share yourself with someone is possessed by someone who knows himself well enough. No, that’s not a quote from some genius. I just said that. I believe that you can only impart something that you are knowledgeable of. You cannot teach something you don’t know. That also applies with one’s self. Obviously, you can’t share anything about yourself if your existence alone confuses you. Taking the time to know yourself is not an easy task. It’s a long process and you have to work on it everyday. No, you don’t have to meet with a shrink four times a week but you can take a day from your busy week, or even a day off a month, for a breather and to get to know yourself a little bit more. I got a short story for this. For every job interview I went through, I never escaped the tedious task of telling the interviewer about myself. My answer always depends on who I’m talking to. It makes me question if I really know myself after all. You can take baby steps and start from your likes and dislikes. List down things that peak your interest, and things that don’t excite you much (or at all). It may be a small thing that you can easily shrug off or say you don’t have time for, but trust me, it will help you know yourself more.
  12. Say “Please” and “Thank you”. Simple manners. Say please when you ask for something, and thank you when you’re given something, or someone does you a favor. Gratitude comes a long way. These are small things but they earn a lot of respect. You don’t have to have a heart of a saint, or so to speak, but you don’t want to come of as a cold-hearted bitch, either.
  13. Stock up on motivational materials. This is self explanatory but allow me to make it more obvious. Whenever I feel downright gloomy, I stock up on motivational quotes that cheer me up or somehow give me a boost of hope. I couldn’t care less if I run out of memory space for keeping too much screen caps from Instagram (aaand it’s out) as long as I save everything in my phone, and because I have a little OC baby living in my body, I make it a point to crop every single photo and get rid of unnecessary spaces. Whenever I scroll through my camera roll, I come across those quotes and they actually help make me feel better even if I’m not in a bad mood. It’s a instant pick-me-upper.
  14. Appreciate nature. This goes with lesson #9. Take time to smell the flowers. Look past the buildings and skyscrapers. Go higher and gaze at the sky, the clouds, the sun, superman.. Just kidding. Inhale nature and you will exhale peace. Amen to that. But seriously, go to a beach and feel the warm sand between your toes. Lie on a road less traveled by and soak in the feel of the sun on your skin (not that I’ve done that before, but why not?), look at different plants and marvel at how unique they look from the others. The beauty of nature is within itself. You don’t have to look far, there’s no puzzle to be solved or a riddle to figure out. It’s priceless too, literally speaking. You are surrounded by nature. All it takes is a good look. It’s amazing. Use your eyes to see the beauty around you before you lose your vision.
  15. Get lost. Literally. Knowledge from your experiences is the best teacher. Honestly, I am a very dependent person, no matter how much I try to deny it. I can’t survive without anyone guiding me or telling me what to do next. But it may not be true, either. Maybe I grew up thinking that way because I have always been taken care of every since my world began. But as I grew older, I realized that the best way for me to learn is to leave me and let me figure out things on my own. After all, survival of the fittest (or who will make use of his common sense the most) is the game here. I’ve been lost a couple of times already, but it’s also how I learned to find myself back. It also goes for personal growth. You can’t find something (or someone) that hasn’t been lost.
  16. Do more of what makes you happy. Happiness can only be found within one’s self. Do what you love and it will radiate out of your entire being. You don’t have to put up with insensitive people and tedious tasks that bears no career growth if you don’t want to – unless you really, really need to. I remember this quote that I still keep in my photos to this day. I go back to it every now and then, and it hits home every time. “Look at you. You’re young. And you’re scared. Why are you so scared? Stop being paralyzed. Stop caring what other people think. Wear what you want. Say what you want. Listen to the music you want to listen to.. This life is yours. When are you going to realize that you can do whatever you want?” – Oliver Sykes
  17. A bad day doesn’t make a bad life. Have you ever felt so extremely mad that you just want to throw away every thing you can put your hands on, and sleep for two weeks straight, and either lash out at everyone or give them the cold shoulder? I have, just a few days ago. But a bad day doesn’t make a bad life. No matter how crappy you feel at the moment, breathe. Tomorrow is another day. Dust yourself off and drown yourself in your happy pills. You’ll be fine.
  18. Live curious. Let yourself be a kid again and ask those endless why’s. A lifetime is not enough to gain all the knowledge that you want. You can never have enough time to learn so much, so make do with what you have and live a curious life. Go watch National Geographic Channel. It’s cool.
  19. Take a lot of photos. I am not a photographer, although I would like to be one, but I can say that photos sum up pretty much my entire life. I do believe that a photo speaks a thousand words. It can do so much from bringing back past happenings in your life to encouraging you in making more memories. Looking at old photos takes me back to many places. It also has the ability to bring back what used to be, allowing you to reflect on what was before, and compare it to what is now. Photos are so beautiful, not only the photographs themselves but the characters behind each snapshot and the stories behind the captured scenes. Ahh, such nostalgia.
  20. Do a good turn daily. Again, you don’t have to be a saint to have a generous heart. In fact, saints are normal people, too. Well, anyone who follows God’s commandments is considered a saint (or something like that).. but that’s not the point! It doesn’t take much to help a person in need. Some would require as little as a loaf of bread, or a bottle of left-over water, or even spare coins. You don’t have to be an extraordinary person to do extraordinary acts. All you need is a heart that is willing to share. Small actions make a big difference. Go be a life changer.
  21. What matters is what you do with what you’ve been given, not how much you make or do compared to someone else. What matters is you spend yourself.

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