Today, I’ll blow out twenty candles on my cake.
Today also marks the fact that I have one foot completely stuck in the cement of adulthood and that there’s no more turning back, no more little slips of denial whatsoever. It’s time to put on my Big Girl Pants/Skirt/Dress for a longer duration, and yes, it’s completely and utterly terrifying. And nerve-wrecking. If you follow my bookstagram, you’d know that a little after a whole month before this date, two exact years ago, is a day that drastically changed my life. My whole world came crashing down within hours, I had to re-evaluate my entire person and act fast. It may have not been healthy but I’ve learned a lot and understood things from a bigger perspective as well. So, here’s the twenty valuable lessons—pieces of advice (so warning! long post up ahead!) I’d give to my younger self if I could ever travel back in time!
1. Spend less money.
No, darling, you don’t need that. You want that. There’s no actual value in having that pricey thing. I know you want it because it’s beautiful, and that you want something
your minted BFF (who’ll be your ex-BFF in a quarter after a decade) doesn’t have yet, but that money is valuable too. Dad spent tireless hours earning it, don’t burn it within minutes. Think, re-evaluate everything and if you still want it, save up your pocket money instead.
Oh, and you know that huge pile of clothes you’ll no doubt amass into a greater hill as you grow older? Yeah, your older self is appalled at the amount (and your fashion taste) and promptly sent half of it to charity/gave it to your little sister and cousins. So yeah, refrain from buying things at the very first beat.
2. Family comes first. Friends, second.
Mom scolded you, dad’s not home and little sister’s being supremely annoying, but remember: family comes first. As often as possible. I know you want to go out and hang out with your friends at the mall, you want to fit in, you want to be acknowledged as someone worth it, but that isn’t worth pushing your family away for. Friends come and go, lovers will as well. Your family will stick with you until some external force removes them. So yes, your BFF of 14+ years will leave you after your very first real argument and you’ll realize that your friendship wasn’t as healthy as it should’ve been. Your family, though? They’ll love you no matter how much they’re annoyed with you. They’ll tease you, make fun of you, but they love you all the same. Spend as much time with them as possible, every dinner if you can. Live. Love. Laugh.
3. Don’t give up without a fight. Don’t let the passion die.
Art. You love art. You draw every day, on every blank space and you love a lot of other things too. Books, dancing, anime, games, music, and being good at something (who doesn’t?). But, when you discover your love for writing, you eventually stop picking up the pencil to draw. You put down your ballet shoes because mom thinks the teacher’s too tough on children (she is), you stop playing the piano and you stop being serious about taekwondo because you get sick of the exams. Don’t. I mean, sometimes you have to, but don’t stop drawing. Don’t stop playing the piano even after you stop going for lessons. Don’t skip on taekwondo practice too, and try other forms of dancing if you can’t pick up ballet again. You miss what you had with them so much in the future, and yes, that includes missing all the pain you went through to get where you were/are. As for writing, there’ll be bumps but it’s worth it. Never let the passions die.
4. Silence isn’t always golden.
Half of the time, there will be someone with an opinion you disagree with. Someone will constantly contradict with their self, someone will constantly complain every every single minuscule detail, and someone will tear down your confidence. When you know for certain that you aren’t a hundred percent wrong, voice out. Don’t be scared because being scared will result to a lot of things you’ll feel disappointed or guilty about. Fight for the things you believe in, in a way where anger and violence aren’t part of, but where you exercise a good balance of calm, open-minded and stern.
5. Don’t be afraid to give within your limits.
Material isn’t everything, and as you grow older, you and your peers (the ones who will grow along with you instead of bringing you down) will realize that. Gifts are lovely, cards are lovely, expensive meals are lovely. However, extending a helping hand, giving a willing shoulder or lending an ear—those leave a greater impression. Don’t think about how you can’t afford giving someone something that costs more than fifty dollars, don’t worry about others judging when you pick the cheapest thing off the menu. Spending time with your friends, helping them when they need it and simply going the extra mile while helping them will be enough because they will know and they will understand.
6. Romantic love isn’t everything.
You don’t need a lover to survive in this world, sugar. There will be times when you’ll feel wistful, or when you’re jealous of couples. There will be times you feel this sort of desperation clawing at you, but remember: it’s okay to not have a lover. It’s okay to not have someone else to love romantically because there are other forms of love. Even so, it’s okay to feel dejected, to feel sad but always remember that you have people who care for you. You have people you care about around you. When the moment arrives, you’ll find someone who won’t overwhelm you, who’ll orbit in, at least, the same direction as you do.
…And, if that doesn’t happen, there’s always the two quidditch teams worth of dogs and cats that you want to get.
7. Be yourself.
Seriously, don’t force yourself to party, to drink, to smoke, to do drugs. Ever. You already know that you don’t like any of those and that’s completely alright. It’s fine to prefer staying indoors than outdoors. Don’t force yourself to be an adrenaline junkie when you prefer curling up in your bed, reading stories till the AM. Saving yourself for marriage is fine; supporting LGBTQ in a rather conservative country is fine. You don’t need to confine yourself to one aspect. You don’t need to be a clearly definable person. Every human is a complex being, and every human has multiple personas layered onto them. Hold your head up and keep your stance firm because as long as being yourself is healthy and good, continue to be yourself. It’s not about how people feel about you, it’s about how you feel about yourself with only your bias in the way and somewhere along this, you’ll see that being happy with yourself will make the people around you happy as well.
8. Dreams are fine as long as you stay in-tune with reality too.
First and foremost, you want to be a commissioning/project editor for fiction. That’s great, you have a goal in mind and you’re working hard towards it. It’s fine to want to be a published writer as well—you’ve been writing since 2008 and that used to be your main goal too. But of course, it’s not set in stone that you’ll get the job you want, or even a career related to your degree. The back-up goal of being a Creative Writing lecturer is a good idea, though be aware that you might not even land that job as well. Even so, don’t stop working hard towards achieving your dreams. There might be walls between you and them but having put in some work while ensuring that you’re not halting reality in order to achieve those dreams, is infinitely better than the alternate. Dream smart, not hard.
9. Don’t be afraid to cut ties.
I know, cutting ties is scary. Burning bridges is terrifying. Confronting someone or even just thinking about it has you churning in a multitude of what-ifs, oh-no’s, we’ve-known-each-other-for, and all that jazz. But, when you reach a certain point in life, you’ll realize that there’s no point in keeping negative influences because why swim in the darker side of the waters more than you have to when life’s so short? Cutting negative influences out to make room for positive ones will be more beneficial and fulfilling.
10. Failure is good.
When I first watched the video where Sara Blakely, the CEO of Spanx shared her thoughts on failure and success and how her father helped shape her ideals, I had an epiphany (can you even call it one?) because her father taught her one of the greatest things every person should be taught. Failing is good, failing means you’ve tried. You don’t hear that enough and you definitely need to because somehow “You’ll do better next time” doesn’t translate the same amount of hope as “Failing means you’ve tried”. “Failing means you’ve tried” means that your efforts aren’t wasted. It cements the thought that you did something into your mind better than “You’ll do better next time” ever has.
11. Listen to all sides and consider them.
It’s tiring, it consumes a lot of energy, but when the moment calls for it, having listened to all sides of something will definitely make things clearer and better. Not only will you be able to form an opinion that is as holistic as possible, but you’ll have the opportunity to stand on neutral ground as well. This will save you from so much drama, silly situations, and tough times, truly.
12. Don’t be afraid to take breaks, though don’t procrastinate as well.
You’ve spent one whole year contemplating about the plot, the setting, the characters—everything right down to the very words you’ll have to use to write out each and every sentence so now, you’re burned out. You sit your arse down on the chair to write that novel, but you find that your motivation has died out and with every sentence you type, you find more flaws and you feel more frustrated. Okay. Breathe, save your document and do something else. Watch something, read something, play a game or simply just take a nap. No matter what you’re doing, breaks are always necessary, especially when you find yourself getting more and more frustrated by the minute. This will allow you to clear your head and you can get back to what you’ve been doing in a brighter mood. As long as you’re not procrastinating, the results won’t suffer when you take breaks.
13. Start as early as possible and trudge forward in moderate doses till the end.
Okay, let’s face it. We all know what the Master Procrastinator you are and you will (with no doubt) procrastinate a little when you take breaks. However, combining the previous advice with this one, will be your savior—especially when you have six 2.5k word essays due at the end of the semester. Now, look at the calendar, see that your earliest deadline is a month away? Good. That means you start now. You get your thesis and sub-arguments and get them checked out by your module conveners, followed by writing your essays in small doses (or at least two hundred words each day). This means you’ll have buffer time for when you actually procrastinate during your breaks, that you’ll be able to change your mind about your essay if you do, and that you’ll also be able to complete your essays in time. Win-win, no?
14. Not everybody deserves second chances.
…No, they don’t deserve the third, fourth, fifth, etc. as well.
Who shouldn’t you give second chances to? Scammers, cheaters, thieves, people who have changed tremendously and are too stubborn to realize that it takes two to tango in the dance of problems concerning relationships/friendships. Okay, fine, the last one may be allowed a second chance, but the gist of this whole part is that not everybody deserves a second (or more) chance in your life. Forgiving is fine, forgetting isn’t something I really encourage since there’s a possibility you’ll wind up in similar situations with different variables.
15. Laugh often.
You’re out on the stage, really to prefer the role of Arlecchino. You’re terrified because the people who you thought were friendly, are among the crowd. They have their phones out and you can’t help but wonder if they’re going to record you and laugh about your ‘uncoolness’ on social media. You think back about the times they posted unflattering photos of you eating, of you giving you presentations in class. It hurts, you don’t want to act your role, but you know what? Those feelings are alright, you don’t have to feel otherwise but in the end, laugh because you’ve tried your best and nobody can a hundred-percent win them all. So whether it’s at yourself, at something, with someone, laugh because it’s true that laughter is one of the greatest medicines.
16. Always bring a book.
Whether it’s physical or digital, a comic book or a novel or a light novel or a script or whatever, always, always have a book with you. It doesn’t matter if you’re popping by the grocer’s for five minutes, or if you’re waiting outside your doctor’s office for an hour already. Having a book on standby is a must, particularly when you don’t have mobile data or WiFi around to distract you.
17. Inspiration strikes without waiting for you.
Sugar, you hear this a lot of times but I hafta repeat this. Inspiration will come at you while you’re in the shower, off at La La Land, driving down the road, any where, any time. Will it slow down for you? Hell no. So, record the inspiration whenever you can, whether by using technology or old school pen/pencil and paper. 99% of the time, you’ll regret when you don’t.
18. Exercise is important.
Yes, this is coming from your older self who’s just too lazy to exercise when she’s not in university, but note, not being active is a very lethargic feeling and she’s really hating it at the moment. It’s very important to make use of your limbs. Go to the gym, walk up and down the stairs multiple times, walk to your job/class, so on, so forth. If you have to play Pokemon Go as motivation for you to exercise, so be it. Just remember, CONSTANT VIGILANCE when you do so!
19. Criticism are obstacles you have to pass to get better.
Get your (Marvel Cinematic Universe) Tony Stark on because shrapnel inching towards your heart? Build an arc reactor. Need to escape from the Ten Rings? Build the very first Iron Man suit. Arc Reactor’s Palladium core poisoning you? Find a new power source. The World Security Council sent a missile to blow up Manhattan? Intercept the missile and fly it up through the opening in the sky and blow up the Chitauri Command Center at the same time even though you might end up dead as a result.
There will be times when someone’s criticism towards you/your work appear too harsh, and obviously, you will feel hurt and you might feel protective but above that, you should take the criticism as a challenge to better whatever that’s being critiqued. You might be too nice or too humble or something to admit it, but in the end, there will be a feeling of pride when you prove the haters wrong, no?
20. Bring the lip balm everywhere.
Oh puddin’, the skin on your cheeks and lips are flaking and your lips are cracked! You shouldn’t have forgotten your lip balm at home—in fact, buy at least two of Forever Aloe Lips and put one in each of your frequently used bags. Make sure to apply (dab if not used on lips) at those areas as soon as you can!
**I’m not paid whatsoever for this product, but I just have to share this with you in case you haven’t heard of it before. If you have combination, sensitive or dry skin, or some kind of reaction that triggers dry skin, makes the skin on your lips ‘tighter’ than it’s supposed to be or causes irritated and red patches of skin, this product may be godsend. I’ve been using it for 6 years and have faced no negative effects thus far.
And there you have it! Hopefully, some of these lessons/pieces of advice are relevant to some of you, but more importantly, what have you learned in your life thus far? Do share because I’d love to hear about them!
Until next time~♥