Thirty-one. For some yet unknown reason, turning 31 has a much larger impact on me than turning 30 (decades matter to most people, I guess.)
I have never really bemoaned getting older. Maybe because I like birthdays and I’ve always considered my birthday an annual get-out-of-reality pass. So, when I turned 30 last year, I packed a bag, got on a bus, headed to an island and stayed in a little beach shack offered by the people there – for free.
I also went to the beach when I turned 28. And 29. Hmm..I’m sensing a pattern here.
But I digress. For my annual birthday post that’s over a month late, here’s 31 things:
1. The only ones who will hurt you are the people you love. Those you don’t care about don’t make an impact.
2. Career-wise, I’ve done a lot of things. A quick rundown: I have an economics degree, considered Law School, but spent the first 5 years of my work life working at consulting firm creating and implementing training plans for FMCG companies, burnt out and bummed around for a year, went into freelance writing, went back to corporate life as business dev person for a skincare company handling institutional sales and toll manufacturing, managed a travel agency, got a partial scholarship for an MBA in Spain, decided not go, worked at a HR tech startup, got conned to work in a travel startup with a God-awful work ethic, and now ended up happy in my current job. Life will give you as many fresh starts as you need.
3. When in an argument, in the spirit of not ruining relationships, you can claim “let’s just agree to disagree,” or “it is all just a matter of perspective,” or even “I respect that our differing thoughts about these things.” But, sooner or later, one of you will be proven wrong. Be prepared that it might be you.
4. Honesty is no excuse for rudeness. You can call someone out for any mistakes without being an asshole about it, you know.
5. You will never think that you have your shit together. You will always have moments where you think you do but then suddenly start overthinking. That’s okay. The moment you’re absolutely sure is the moment everything goes downhill – you become complacent until one day you realise that you’re bored.
6. There is no point in doing something if you’re going to do it half-assed. If you’re going to be wasting precious time, make sure that it’s worth it.
7. Nobody would put you first except for you. Except you rarely do.
8. Be kind to yourself. You will always forget to be.
9. Going against society’s and/or your family’s expectations of you is hard. Coming from a family of licensed professionals (teachers, doctors, nurses, lawyers, accountants – professionals, the lot of them), I know how absolutely frustrating it is when they tell you to “get a job in the government sector” or “get an MBA” or any other advice that does not in any way apply to your situation (or your intentions) but given anyway because it works for them. Grin, bear it, and still go your own way anyway. No use lamenting over it.
10. There is no such thing as the right love at the wrong time. Curse you, Barry Manilow, for that ridiculousness. If it’s at the wrong time, then it ain’t the right love, baby.
11. Remember that there will always be a part of the world’s population who are less privileged than you. Always.
12. Strive for kindness, not political correctness. So many people are so concerned with being political correct that they sometimes forego kindness in the effort to ensure that everyone around them is politically correct, too. Case in point: when typhoon Haiyan hit, the Philippines was in the news. A lot of people got offended because one of the islands of the Philippines is called Negros Islands. So, instead of helping doing something productive like, I don’t know, sending aid, they had an uproar over the freaking name of the islands. Oh, and just in case you forgot taxonomy, Negro/Negros came from the word Negroid, which is one of the three major races of humans together with Caucasoid and Mongoloid. Now, having said that…
13. Not everything offensive to you is offensive to everyone. Brush up on context.
14. Love is a losing game. But we do it anyway so make sure that it’s worth it.
15. Love requires choices. Who you give your love to and to what extent you are willing to sacrifice for it are nobody’s decision but yours. But I’ve learned the hard way that sometimes you feel stripped of the ability to make choices. You haven’t. And the person who made you feel that way will never deserve your love.
16. People can’t be everything you want. Nor could you be everything they want. Get to a happy compromise.
17. On that note, compromise is not always 50-50. At any given time, one would sacrifice more, would love more, would care more. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as you take turns.
18. Read Harry Potter at least once in your life. While I personally think that the focus of the story is on the wrong person and that damnable epilogue should never be read (Harry is the most unobservant little shit in the series, Hermione and Ron totally did not deserve each other, and Ginny’s badassery shines through that she should have gotten a perspective spinoff instead of getting Harry) but it’s a story that grows up with you even if you’re fully grown when you started reading it. It talks about things like friendships and equality and the fight against discrimination and coming into your own. Also, magic.
19. Watch The Godfather at least once in our life. Not just because it seems lame to say that you haven’t watched it but because the Corleone’s portray a reality that is missing from usual movies: humans are neither truly good nor truly evil, but are many different combinations of both.
20. Money are just pieces of paper and metal. You decide how big of a role it plays in your life.
21. Whether intentionally or otherwise, at least once in your life you will hurt a good person. There will be no guarantees of forgiveness and you need to deal with how you feel about that.
22. 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.
23. You will lose faith in people. But don’t stop hoping that they will prove you wrong. They almost always will.
24. Your mental health is your responsibility and it is just as important as your physical health. Never let stigma stop you from getting the help that you need.
25. Having said that, do not use your mental health as an excuse for being rude. You are better than that.
26. Escaping can help but it’s not a real solution. Eventually, whatever it is you’re running away from will catch up with you. Escape if that’s what you need at the moment. But best be prepared for the day you can’t.
27. Rape culture is a reality. Every chance is the perfect chance to start changing it.
28. There are bridges that need to be burnt. Choose well.
29. Choose your mentors with deliberation. Do not rely on chance alone. If you are going to mentored by someone, make sure that person deserves the chance to help shape you.
30. There is always room for ice cream.
31. Being smart is one of the best things in the world. Anybody who tries to shame you for that can go fuck themselves.
But don’t take my word for it.