Yo! This seems like the cliché that it really is. Turning 2 decades old (or to put it even more scarily worrisome, entering the line of 2) is quite scary. I don’t know. It’s like playing a video game and skipping the tutorial mode and you’re just thrown into battle without knowing what to do.
As I am writing this, I am panicking. Like legit panicking. But, anyway, I didn’t live this long to waste my time worrying about something that many people experience. If there’s one thing that I would like to do right now is share some learnings I acquired before turning 20 f*cking years old. Here they are:
(1) I can’t please everybody.
Someone told me before that she doesn’t like my outputs – she doesn’t like what I do no matter how hard I try simply because it’s me who’s doing it. Then there’s someone who believed that I have greatness in me – that I am a diamond in the rough. Eliminating the burden caused by the former made me live my life even lighter and happier. We often seek for validation from people who will never see the best in us that we almost forget that there are some who always cheer us on and encourage us to be better. Keep the latter.
(2) I have to be my own captain.
I was once sick of revolving my life around people whom I thought would help me become a better being. I made some mistakes and those people consumed me. What I did was I became in-charge of me. I decided for myself and took my own risks. At first, it was scary standing up on my own. But here I am today, standing up for myself and for the people who deserve it.
(3) It’s okay to fail.
I mostly excelled in everything that I did when I was in high school. College has taught me that failing is not such a bad thing because life is a continuous cycle of ups and downs – it’s a course of falling down and who can rise back up.
(4) Do not care too much.
Caring too much is really harmful and consuming. Sometimes you just care a lot about what other people say about you that you start to believe them and make what they say your truth. Just because someone calls you stupid doesn’t mean that you really are. When you get called out as gay because you acted in a way that is not the society’s standard of masculinity, you don’t have to believe them because you know you better than anybody else.
(5) Know your priorities.
If you don’t know it yet, family is the first priority. You can arrange school, friends, hobbies, organizations, and all the other cliché teenage rendezvous whichever way you want but family – may it be by blood or by feeling – has to come first.
(6) Life is a game of trust or die.
It is very general that we should be very weary of whom to trust – let it be our secrets, money, feelings, even our own lives. We are enraged with hormones as we enter our adolescent to adulthood years that getting into an illusion and infatuations that all our relationships and friendships are perfect. But, not all people are created the same. Some are too nice to you when you’re together but are willing to slit your throat just to realize their own personal agenda.
(7) Faith is integral.
We get hurt. A lot. Especially if we have too many feelings and if we care too much about people and things. Lady Gaga has sang that “every heartbreak makes it hard to keep the faith” and, in reality, it is. But just because bad things keep on happening doesn’t mean that we have to lose our faith, to a higher being, to humanity, and even to ourselves. Sometimes, having just a little faith is what we need. It is the beginning of hope.
(8) Not all problems have solutions.
Some things don’t need to be pushed. Not all problems need a solution. And sometimes, we give it some more time for it to solve itself or for us to solve it ourselves. The thing is, if it’s been really too consuming, impossible, and it’s hurting you the longer you hold on to it, you just have to let it go and move on to other challenges in life.
(9) Passion is the best driver.
The best way to express this learning is through the words laid on to us by Lady Gaga: “No matter who leaves you in your life, your talent will never leave you. So love your passion; love it harder than anything else.”
(10) Everyone deserves to be happy.
You need to give everybody a chance to work on themselves, too. Because you cannot revolve your life around someone forever, make sure that the people around you are given an equal right to experience their tragedies and delights with or without you.
(11) Age is just a number.
So are grades.
(12) Hygiene is important.
You will be really outgoing and energetic playing with your friends, physically, when you’re around 9-14 (unless you are a person who grew up facing screens all day) and putting an extra effort to be tidy will be the last thing you’ll think about. But as soon we grow older, our bodies also change and develop our own natural scents which are commonly unpleasant which is why we need to develop a sense of hygiene. They say that cleanliness is next to godliness. And that is true. The new norm will tell us that hygiene is respect to yourself and a form of courtesy to others.
(13) Relationships can wait.
I have lived 2 whole decades of my life single and I can honestly say that I didn’t feel incomplete even for a split second. I’m not usually the type of person who gets peer pressured. If there’s one thing that’s me is that I defy stereotypes and I don’t like the fact that teens get pressured of getting into relationships because it would feel like a sort of validation of their worth when, in fact, it’s not. Although, I have to admit that it feels lonely, sometimes. But I have dreams and I’m fine working alone.
(14) Being alone is not always lonely.
Being an ambivert is pure bliss. I get to be expressive and exclusive, at the same time. Being alone has its perks: no one tells you what to do, no one can judge you, and, importantly, no one can hurt you. And it doesn’t always mean that you’re lonely. Sometimes, we work hard for our goals and ambitions and do it on our own. The mere feeling of feeding your passion and getting results, pass or fail, is already a gratification and a validation that you can do it by yourself, that you can be independent and there’s no negative in that.
(15) Health will always be wealth.
When I was a child, I ate everything except for vegetables. I drank everything more than I drank water. Looking at it now, I blame my former self for the unwanted flabs I have because regardless of being athletic, I can’t seem to attain the body goal that I set for myself. Those childhood foolishness found its way back to my body when my legs started numbing in my pre-teen years and then I realized that taking little steps to becoming healthy gives results you can’t even imagine. After all, no one achieves their goals lying sick on the bed, right? Eat up!
(16) Money is best when earned.
I can’t be the only kid who steals money from parents just to buy junk food and toys, right? (Nothing over 50 pesos, though) And I did it quite abundantly up to the expense that guilt is consuming me. Also, lying about money is not my thing now. Getting myself into sidelines and freelance work earned me some squeaky-clean bills that I did not feel guilty of using up. Also, doing side gigs made my college life more colorful and I met new people. So, yeah. Connections.
(17) Kindness is for free.
This was my tweet that got 4 likes and 1 retweet: “Some people don’t deserve your kindness. Be kind anyway.”
Be kind because it’s free; it won’t cost you a cent; it will give you good karma; you can sleep well and sound every night. Haters and doubters will always be there, but hey, “Kill them with kindness” – Justin Bieber said this but Selena Gomez turned it into a song.
(18) Some things are not worth pushing for.
Some people, too.
(19) I am worthy.
Rejections are really common on the road towards our personal ambitions. But no’s are just harsh versions of “You can do it! Do better!” And sometimes it would make us think that our existence is useless because of the discouragement passing around. It would make us feel like there is no longer a reason to carry on because we keep on failing on the things that we do. But each one is worthy – worthy to try, worthy of second chances, and, above all, worthy of being happy.
(20) I still got a long way to go.
Back when I was 10, I thought that, upon reaching 20, people would already land in their dream jobs, get a house, have a stable relationship, and a dependable savings account. I have never been so wrong. I got 0 out of the 4 things I mentioned – it’s not a bad thing. I’m a work in progress – we all are – some are working faster, some stopped working, and there are those who are working but still get lost along the process, at least they’re working. That is the beauty of life – it makes us imagine, it gets us close to our dreams, it makes us hope, it disappoints, it throws anything in our way, it crushes us, it makes us happy, and teaches us that, no matter what, we always have a choice to choose a path and make the most out of it. In the long high way, I slow down sometimes. I still got a lot of fight left in me. I’m 20 for crying out loud.