I decided to do away with my usual birthday gratitude post this year. It’s not because I don’t have anything to be grateful for. On the contrary, I am grateful for every single day of this year, even the most difficult ones. It’s just that I want to share 27 nuggets of wisdom. These were borne out of experience (mine or someone else’s), some I got out of reading books, articles, or random graffiti, and some I probably got out of those random moments in a day when I see something that caused me to have a somewhat-related epiphany about life.
So, I’m taking a moment to be little Ms. Know-it-all. Just chalk it up to being a spoiled birthday girl. These worked or are working well for me. I don’t know how it will work for other people though. Apply at your own risk. 🙂
1. Aesthetic-wise, there are two things you should spend a lot of your money on: your skin and your hair. Clothes, shoes, bags, gadgets – they’re not exactly smart investments. Investing wisely on your skin (a.k.a. a skin care regimen fit specifically for you) and your hair (a.k.a. healthy hair that flatters your features) will dictate how you will look 10-15 years from now. In other words, your skin and hair regimen now results in whether you look like you’re 30 years old or 70 years old by the time you’re 50.
2. Wear sunscreen. Be very, very faithful in using sunscreen especially if the sun is high and even if it isn’t. The older you get, the more you know all about skin damage and skin cancer, the more this makes sense. I never used to wear sunscreen before, not even when swimming or doing outdoorsy stuff, and it did some damage to my skin. Good thing I wised up quickly. Now, I never leave the house without sunscreen.
3. You cannot go wrong with owning several coats, jackets, blazers, or wraps. Yes, even in the Philippines. You can wear a shirt, a tank, a corset, or even go topless if you’re into that but as long as you have an appropriate cover up, you can pretty much go anywhere.
4. The choice is not limited to high heels OR flip-flops. There is a vast, wonderful, amazing, and totally addicting world of shoes out there. If you’re not like me who is willing to sacrifice comfort, neck, and limb for a fabulous pair of high heels, then there are wedges, kitten heels, ballet flats, or even boots, all in varying height, design, and comfort level. Do not, I beg you, do not pair business suits with flip flops.
5. Go ahead and wear that two-piece bikini. Unless you have enough money for surgery or suddenly felt the urge to change your lifestyle or discovered the fountain of youth, odds are you’ll never look as good as you look now.
6. Never take your health for granted. Enough with the slim or skinny or curvy or voluptuous. The question is, are you healthy? I’ve only just recently realized this. For a couple of years after graduation I ate whatever I wanted, slept late, didn’t exercise, and worked 15 hours a day 6 days a week. And back in college, well, I was in college so health habits were virtually nonexistent. Now, while I’m not as healthy as want to be, I’ve made changes. I watch what I eat, I exercise, and I get enough rest. The difference is quite noticeable. I lost a little weight, my skin cleared up, I feel lighter, and I don’t get sick as often as I used to. My body is my greatest tool, and I plan to make sure it steps up to the demands of my dreams.
7. It’s long, old, and a bit confusing, but The Godfather trilogy teaches you about family, morality, and the consequences of fucking up on both. Nothing should be more important that family – both the ones we are born to and the ones we choose. They are the ones who were there for you when you were learning the ways of the world, and they’re the ones who will be there to support you when you screw up.
8. Money is money and you decide to what extent it affects your life. You can lose it, yes, and the lack of it makes life a bit (or a lot) difficult especially if you’re used to a steady income. I learned this the hard but necessary way, leaving a secure job I’ve had for almost four years and depleting all my savings for the next 10 months of bumming around . But I figured that money is not worth getting sick over, not worth taking your family and friends for granted for, and not worth limiting your potential with. It was a means to an end, and I never regretted taking those months off for myself. Besides, I can always earn it back.
9. Never be rude to people who make and serve your food. I really mean never ever, unless all your food has been served and you’re planning to never return to that place again.
10. Watch My Name is Khan at least once in your life. This Indian movie illustrates that though the struggle among people of different culture, race, nationality, and mental capacity are different, humans are the same at the core. We all want love, acceptance, and to feel that we were able to contribute.
11. Learn to swim, ride a bike, and drive a car. These are important life skills that may come in handy in the future. I’m only 2 out of 3 on this but I figured it’s never too late to catch up.
12. Never stop learning. My mother always tells us this, drumming into us the importance of further education. Back then, when internet did not exist, we relied on books and magazines. Now, through the internet, information is not only fast but vast. There are millions of articles, millions of data and information shared, and even online courses for free or at a minimal cost. Take advantage.
13. “Lust tastes like tequila and love tastes like whiskey. Love burns for longer and warms you up on the inside and sometimes it makes you do stupid things. Tequila just makes you wasted.” Actor Jackson Rathbone said this. While I believe it’s kinda ideal to have both, if you have to choose, choose love over lust. Youth, beauty, and energy (you know, the things normally associated with lust) fade but companionship, affection, and love, could potentially last a lifetime.
14. Given that you have time, energy, and money, never pass up the chance to go somewhere or do something new.
15. People are innately good and kind. For every person that does evil, about ten more are rushing to correct that. Youcan see it in every big disaster that happens in this world. Have a little in faith in the goodness of people.
16. Believe that everything will fall into place, but with the stipulation that you’ve done everything humanly possible to facilitate that falling-into-place thing. You will get what you deserve, what you work for, and what you sow. Be patient and know that contrary to popular belief, life IS fair. It’s a bitch sometimes, but it’s fair.
17. On that note, don’t be too patient. I read this in a Nora Roberts novel. Granted, it was a romance novel but I think it also applies to life in general. Sometimes, when opportunities present themselves, grabbing on is the best thing to do. Life is too long to live with so many “what ifs.”
18. There is no such thing as forgive and forget. It’s an either/or. The things you can forget are not big enough to need forgiving. The things that need to be forgiven are too important to be completely forgotten.
19. “Love is a decision. When you decide to fall in love, there’s just no other alternative.” One of my professors, Prof. Winnie Monsod, said this and I believe it, really truly believe it. You have to first decide to love. You have the chance to choose who to love, to choose who is the one person worth all the risk. And even when you’ve found that person, you have to choose whether to love or not. Saying you had no choice is a cop out.
20. When it comes to dreams, goals, and even love, never take the familiar for granted. Sometimes, what you didn’t know you were looking for has always been right in front of you.
21. Life is already complicated enough without us encouraging it to be. Most of the time, silence just means there’s nothing to say, okay means okay, and nothing means nothing. Let go of the drama and accept that life is less theatrical than those tv shows and movies we’re fond of watching, but definitely more colorful.
22. There are people lucky enough to know what they want in life right from the start.People who, at 16 years old, know that they want to be doctors or lawyers. People who, at 20 years old, learned to love what circumstance and education had given them. I am not one of them. At 23, I only had an inkling of what it is I want. It was only at 25 when I finally realized what it is. Now, at 27, I’m still doing my damnedest to get to it. The point is, we should stop measuring ourselves based on the achievements of our peers. Believe in the fairness of the universe and that if we do our best, we’ll all get where we need to be at the right time for us to be there.
23. Believe in God, Allah, Buddha, the Goddess, gods, goddesses, fate, karma, the existence of aliens, science, or all of them. Choosing which among them you believe in is less important than the fact that you actually believe in something greater than human existence. The universe is too big, too beautiful, and oftentimes too precise for it to be just us humans.
24. Have faith. Even if you’re not religious or spiritual, have faith in something. Have faith in love or family or the law or even the dependability of the sunrise. That faith will keep you sane in times of doubt and anxiety.
25. At least once in your life you will hurt a good person. And I mean really horribly hurt that person. There are no guarantees that you will ever be forgiven. In the end, it will probably be a choice of regretting it forever or forgiving yourself. You need to deal with how you feel about that.
26. Never let age, social convention, peer pressure, or the feeling of being left behind rush you into making decisions. Your milestones are you own. Your loved ones can encourage, advise, and celebrate these with you but, ultimately, they’re yours to be proud (or be ashamed) of.
27. Age is just a number. You can say the same for distance, time, quantity of partners, and other such quantifiable aspects of life. But the higher that number goes, the more implications it brings. We choose how those numbers affect us. We can treat them as milestones, as challenges, as bottlenecks, as hindrances. We choose whether we want to be encouraged or discouraged by those numbers. We choose whether we’re proud or ashamed of them. In the end, they will always be just numbers, but how we deal with those numbers may spell the difference of how we live and how happy we are with our life.
So now I’ll leave you with this:
“You have brains in your head,
you have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own,
And you know what you know.
And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”
From one of the best poems ever, Dr. Seuss’ Oh! The Places You’ll Go.
This is my life. It started 27 years ago. If I don’t like where I am now, it is my job to get myself where I want to be. This verse reminds me that not only am I fully capable of deciding where I want to go, but that I have everything I need to get there.