Things I’ve Learned at 22

First of all, I thank God for giving me another year of life. I thank all those who remembered, who have sent me warm greetings, well wishes, and presents. I hope and pray that you guys are well during these challenging times. 

22 years may not seem like a long time, but the past year was a special one and I learned a lot of things that impacted my perspective in life. I hope some of these would resonate with you and help you to reflect as well. 🙂Life at 22

It’s okay to slow down

Ever since I graduated from college, my life has been a constant race. Work in the morning, study in the evening, hustle there, travel everywhere. Seems like a fancy life. I said yes to opportunities that I think are best for my portfolio. I aim for better versions of life. Kinder versions. Smarter versions. Inspiring versions. 

When I try to look back at the past year, I was running. I feel like I couldn’t rest, couldn’t stop, or even pause for a moment. I feel like the world is telling me that I need to hurry up, to get hustling. But I got burn out. To tell you honestly, it’s not healthy –physically, socially, and mentally. You will sacrifice more things than you’d benefit with. Relationships to be specific

With this pandemic thing going, life has reminded me to slow down in so many ways. And I realized that some of the best parts of myself arise when I am still, not running or rushing.

READ: 9 Important Lessons I Learned in the Time of COVID-19 Pandemic

It’s okay to assume responsibilities

Just like any working adult out there, I also have my filial duties. The moment I receive my salary, I have to separate a portion of it for my family. Personally, I volunteered to pay our utility bills like electricity and the internet. It’s fair enough since I work online and I consume most of it. I also pay my youngest brother’s tuition and apply for insurance for my parents. It gives you peace of mind when shit happens. 

But the whole idea of me “taking responsibility” isn’t really forced. I think it’s normal for a Filipino child to give back and contribute something for the family. In fact, I am proud that at this age, I was able to help my family in little ways I can. 

I just hope that parents too would realize that children are NOT their retirement plan or investment. We, too, have aspirations and dreams in life. We have things that we want to buy, to put priority with. So if you treat your children like investments, don’t be surprised when they view you as a liability.

It’s okay if you don’t know (yet) where your life is going

A year ago, I made a decision to jump off in the world of freelancing. Honestly, it was a tough decision to make. Being the eldest and the breadwinner of the family, I can’t afford to risk a job that isn’t fixed or stable. One day, you got projects with a good income, next week you get none. And here comes the moments of doubt.

Did I do the right thing? Am I still on track? Will this decision get me the life I deserve? Sometimes I have self-doubts if I am really destined for something. You know, I grew up in a poor family. I have to start from scratch. No inheritance. No connections. No backups. Just faith and hard work

But along the way, I learned that things take time, and it doesn’t matter if it’s not going to be perfect because it will never be. Going through with discomfort, suffering, and moments of doubt will always be part of the whole process. 

It’s okay to be a different person to different people

Not being a creep though. No offence Radiohead. What I mean is it’s okay if you don’t fit into what society has dictated. You can be smart to one. Dumb to others. Talkative to some. Quiet to a few. A boss outside but a servant at home. Best to your friend. Worst to your enemy. 

Because this happens to me. Sometimes at home, I get treated differently kesyo ganto ganyan which I unfair to my younger siblings. But I keep reminding myself that despite I’ve reached this stage in life, I still must (and I have to) wash our dishes at home, jam with my childhood friends, or get asked to help someone else. 

I say you don’t need to cement yourself into a stricter role and saddle yourself with high expectations just to look great on the outside. Be flexible. It keeps you remain humble in your judgments and accepting of the differences in others as well. 

AND MAYBE THIS TIME FORWARD, IT’S BETTER TO:

Invest your energy on what matters most

I learned to channel my energy on things that are healthy for myself. Instead of wasting time on doing shits, invest it on substantial things. educate yourself, fewer rants, reduce social media, spur away negative vibes, eat right and healthy, exercise regularly, etc. But even better is to care for your heart. Something that gives meaning and feeds your soul. It’s what you call maturity brotha

Meet a new set of people

It’s in this phase that you’ll meet a lot of people, but only a few will stay. When you plan to meet somebody in the future (whether it be your future boss or a mutual friend), my tip is don’t look up that person’s socials before or after meeting them. I have been guilty of this before. Sometimes I check their social media accounts and do some background check whether to like them or not. Although it’s important for security reasons. But I guess it defeats the fun of meeting new people by making assumptions or judging that person based on what you see online. 

Accept changes in life

It’s easier to say than done. But it’s one of the most important realizations in my adulting years. I AM HAPPY for everything I have now, but of course, I won’t lie that there are also things I wished to happen in a different way. Things that I’ve always wanted since I was a kid but reality tells maybe it’s not meant for me. I accepted these and learned to endure the process. Sir Fitz Villafuerte would always say, “you can cheat the results, but experience and excellence can never be faked.”

Learn to accept and genuinely respond to compliments

This is awkward. Funny is, sometimes people would say good things about me and I find it really awkward. Not that I’m humble bragging but I really find it hard to respond in such a way sincerely as possible. Maybe I’m not used to getting these or I just don’t feel it that way. But now I keep reminding myself to appreciate those affirmations and respond genuinely. I think it’s gonna be good for you and for that person as well. Whenever genuinely possible, accept the compliment out. 

Educate yourself

Read lots of books. Substantial books. Reading makes you more educated. It gives you a different perspective on life. It helps you develop critical thinking. Because when you read, you don’t see flashy screens or beautiful colors. Your mind is taught to think for itself unlike watching a video. You are taught to imagine things for yourself. You create your world. You create your own image. And it cannot be replaced by anybody talking on the screen. 

Empathize more

As much as you value your opinion, remember to at least respect other people’s feelings. Be more understanding of situations and life circumstances. Even if it doesn’t mean anything to you, it could mean everything to others. 

If you have nothing good to say, learn to be silent

It’s great advice I learned from a colleague. We live in contentious times, and there’s so much going on around us. It’s better to talk less and listen more.

Be honest with your feelings

This applies to most situations — life, work, or relationships. For example, you had a workmate who’s not performing well and you’re afraid to tell him/her because it might ruin your relationship. I think it’s better to be genuinely honest as possible. You can say “Hey, I think you could improve this more. Just let me know if you need help or assistance.” The lesson here is to be genuinely honest. But when we say the truth, it has to always be in a loving manner. 

And lastly…

Life is so unpredictable, value it.

What really pushed me to write this blog is Lloyd Cadena. Not because we’ve got the same birthdate, but his passing really made me think about how temporary this life is. With all these craziness in the world, normalcy is fleeting. You can’t predict what happens next. But you can take life as it comes. Cherish whatever that you have right now. Value life. Your family. Your friends. The people you love. You can always make money, but you can never make your present moment again. Once it’s gone, it’ll never come back again.

Thanks for reading! And again, thanks to all your birthday greetings! Let’s catch up soon 🙏

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