21 Things I’ve Learned In The Last 21 Years (Part 1)

Now as a 23-year old, I have a car, job, dog, and dinner party hosting skills. As an autodidact, I’ve grown up greatly from the last two years, but it’s still sweet to revive my writings from the past. I wrote this on my 21st birthday eve: 21 Things I’ve Learned In The Last 21 Years.

“True achievement is a solitary act.” :: Monterey Aquarium :: Fall 2012

1. You’re enough. The most important factor to well-being is knowing that you’re enough I watched a social worker’s TED talk about how this is the most revealing fact of her ten-year research. Accepting that you’re you, flaws and all. She said many problems, like addiction or abuse, stem from people’s low self-esteem. They refused to believe that they are deserving of love and a good life. It changed her, it changed me, and I’ll apply this knowledge to my fictitious children.
2. Always love. Family always comes first, from my amazing mom to my super siblings. I love them so much, that I’m willing to give my life to them. And after all these years, I realize that I’m at my happiest being with them. My boyfriend (Ed note: we are engaged now) deserves a mention here — being the most influential person to me outside immediate family. The hardest part of studying abroad is being away from my support system. Thankfully, there’s the internet, and I just try to redirect my love to friends whom I have here with me.
3.  Embrace the Wild. If there’s anything that I’ve turned into in the last five years, it’s that I have become an explorer both intellectually and physically. From taking classes like Business Law to Acting, from learning yoga to hiking waterfalls, I’ve certainly said YES to anything that I’ve never experienced before. It’s those moments when you don’t feel like leaving your bed, but you end up having an awesome time going anyway. So say yes! As they say, “better have done it than not at all.”

South Lake Tahoe :: Fall 2012

4. Studying is different from learning. Natalie Portman said, “I hate studying but I love learning.” Well, I kind of followed the same concept ever since I read that. As a Multimedia Communications major, I study a lot of production and digital work, but as a student of life, learning should be beyond that. I am mostly on google everyday looking up things like, “How to use acrylic paint” or “How to read putts better.” I hang out a lot in, feeding off my obsession with words. My favorite, for anybody too lazy to read, is going on TED talk’s website. Their speakers summarize decades worth of research, information and ideas within 18 minutes for the world to see. Just as what Anna Oposa always says, “with all the information we can access right now, there’s no excuse to be dumb!” 
5. Take notes. I have several notebooks on golf, creativity, diary, scrapbooking, even a yellow pad paper that I can fill up in a few months’ time. The best thing about writing is that it helps you remember. In relationships and in golf, it’s even more important because it helps you improve. Or maybe you can just type it on your iPhone and upload it onto a cloud — that works too.
6. The gift of experience trumps over materialism. The better value for your money will always be over experiences. If you were choosing between a buying a watch or going to a concert, go to the concert — the memories will last with you longer. The luster of materialistic things always fades in time because human beings have great capacity to adapt. Take for example, a gift to my little sister Ace. Instead of getting her any store-bought item, I saved up for broadway tickets to Wicked (The Musical). I’m sure when she grows older, she’ll remember that more than a piece of clothing that she’ll outgrow soon anyway.

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After saving up for my first-ever job, I treated my sister Ace to a broadway show called ‘Wicked’. Her ears and eyes were glued to the stage work and music. A few years later when I ask, she still remembers.

7. Traveling opens your soul.  What I noticed is that well-travelled people are always the most open-minded, adventurous, and interesting people I know. They always have deeper insights and usually speak more than two languages. I’m fortunate to have traveled pretty much a lot myself. Being exposed to other cultures open a side of your brain that makes you adapt faster and see things in a broader perspective. 
8. All-time best products: Epsom Salt, Baking Soda, And Ginger. I’ve been living alone for a while now, so I know some of the best products to keep at home. Google “benefits of Epsom Salt.” There’s many uses, from removing toxins to relieving muscle soreness, which is always my problem. In the same way, baking soda is just as fabulous. One time I burned my friend’s microwave, so I scrubbed it with the powder mixed with a little water. Voila, it’s just like new! I often use baking soda to remove the smell in my water bottles and to clean my shoes. As for ginger, I once wrote an entire article about why I’m such a fan girl of the root. Another plus — baking soda, epsom salt, and ginger are dirt cheap.
9. You should visit San Francisco at least once in your life. Everyone has heard about San Francisco, but nothing exposes you to a place other than living in it. What I like best about this city is that there’s lots of events going on all the time. Concerts, launchings, festivals, plays, and performance art shows are either sold cheap or completely free just because SF is ripe in arts and entertainment. And every single event is just walking distance from where I live! Not to mention San Francisco is one of the most geographically beautiful cities in the world.

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A secret rooftop garden in downtown San Francisco

10. Filipino Food is all I need. I tried going on without it for a year while living in the dorms, but I just ended up getting sick. Filipino food is really all I can eat, everyday without fail, for the rest of my life. Right now, I have kare-kare, tinola, giniling, and bibingka in my freezer. I am always giddy at the thought of eating menudo and rice on lunch break while I’m at a main building in the heart of the city. Or when I’m munching on Cloud9 at the second hole in Presidio. Pretty awesome.
11. Ask for help. I’ve formally written two of my idol teachers to help me with my career. Now, I have at my disposal a founder of a non-profit and a known tech-whiz/journalist. Last week, I asked my sophomore graphic designer friend to make me a logo. I constantly check with my loved ones advice on everyday situations. In spite of my perfectionist world views, I’ve that learned asking for help is worthwhile.
(To be continued…)