I turned 27 in July. This means I’m officially passed my mid-20s, but not yet in my late-20s. This is a strange age to be at, and it feels exciting and terrifying all at once. I’ve learned a few things along the way, wanna know what I know?
1. It really doesn’t matter what you study in university/undergrad.
Most of my friends are at jobs unrelated to their major, and most of my colleagues (who are in their late-30s/40s/50s) can testify to that too. What does matter? The internships you do, your attitude and work ethic, your interpersonal skills, and your willingness to learn.
2. Maintaining relationships is an active process.
Facebook, Skype and instant messaging apps on our smartphones make staying in touch with old and international friends easy, but only if we want and make the effort to. We should be more proactive in maintaining and fostering those meaningful relationships. Don’t wait for them to call you. Don’t think it’s weird to text someone out of the blue. Just do it because you thought of them. Think of a small adventure that you can go on or do together, call him/her/them up and go for it!
3. Making new friends gets tougher, but it’s possible.
Go to places where like-minded people hang out. Have the guts to initiate a conversation with someone new at parties, at a restaurant, or even on a plane.
4. Heels were just not meant for every women.
Shoes are meant for walking. There is no reason for wearing absurd, uncomfortable heels that I can’t dance, jump, run (to cross the road before the light turns green) in.
5. Having inner expectations are more important than meeting external expectations.
As the eldest sibling in a Chinese family, I’m no stranger to external expectations. Expectations from others will continue all through our lives, and it’s up to us to decide if we want to meet them and why. More importantly, we have to set expectations for ourselves based on our personal values. I find meeting my inner expectations more meaningful and purposeful, and I’m prioritising it over the expectations of others. While friends are getting married and having kids (all over Facebook), that’s not a priority for me now and not an external expectation I feel compelled to meet.
6. Making money is easier than making up for ‘missed’ memories.
OK, making money is not that easy, but it is easier than having to make up for missing an important event with family and friends. Some milestones are never the same if you miss it the first time. Don’t work overtime and miss the birthday celebration of a loved one. Don’t bail on dinner with your friends to get more work done. Don’t miss your sister’s graduation ceremony for a work trip overseas.
7. You can find common ground with just about anyone, anywhere.
Smiling and asking them questions to get to know them better is the easiest way to get the ball rolling. You’ll be amazed by how quickly people open up to you.
8. Learn how to live well within your means.
I don’t keep track of my monthly expenses on a spreadsheet, but I do make a budget and stick to it – 20% life necessities (food, transport), 15% insurance, 10% education loan repayment, 10% fun/gifts, 25% savings/investments, 20% retirement (a.k.a. compulsory CPF in Singapore). One of the many perks of living in Singapore is that it’s socially-acceptable to be an adult and still live with your parents; most of us only move out when we get married, so rent is a huge expense that I don’t have to worry about right now. Also, pay off credit card bills every month.
9. It’s perfectly alright to not have the answer to everything.
If you don’t know, ask. Ask someone. Ask Google. Ask Siri.
10. Fake it until you make it.
Acting like you know what you’re doing, until you really know what you’re doing, is important because people want to feel confident that they are working with the right people. But if you really have no idea what you’re doing, ask (see above).
11. It’s important to go on a small adventure every weekend.
Avoid doing the same thing every weekend. You won’t go back to school/work on Monday feeling energised or inspired. Instead eat some place new, try a different ethnic cuisine, do something touristy, watch a new movie, read a new book. Anything that you’ve never done before counts as a small adventure, so milk that weekend for what it’s worth!
12. Have a (few) creative outlet and hobby.
Regardless of how much we love our jobs, most of us are not 100% creatively fulfilled by our day jobs. Exploring our interests and engaging different parts of our brain is extremely refreshing. As adults, our hobbies/creative outlets tend to be one of the first things we give up, but never underestimate how it can change your life and make you happier. Having a creative outlet is one of the reasons I started blogging, and it’s time-consuming, but this online space of mine has also made me a much happier person. I also continue to emcee on weekends, which technically means I’m working on the weekends, but I love that I’m able to keep this passion alive.
13. You can choose to want less.
There are 3 approaches to saving. You can work more. You can save more. Or you can want less. I’ve given myself permission to want less and live a minimalist lifestyle. I spend enough to be happy in the present (which is challenging for me because I’m an under-buyer), and save enough so I can continue to be happy in the future. This recent post by Sarah of Yes and Yes totally agrees too.
14. It will all be OK in the end.
And if it’s not OK, it’s not the end.
15. Live the life intended for you.
This was the quote Adel Dimian, my favourite professor at SMU, left us with on my last class with him. I didn’t think much of it at that point. For some reason, it stuck and I keep coming back to it. In the words of Amy Poehler, “good for her, not for me”.
16. Water + Fruits + Coffee
The secret to getting rid of constipation.
17. Trust people, until they’ve given you a reason not to.
People are generally nice. Not everyone is out to get you. I would rather regret trusting someone than regret not given them a chance and be left wondering ‘what if I had’.
18. My mom was right about ALOT of things.
That woman knows what she’s talking about even if I don’t always agree or care to admit. Moms truly have super powers, at least when it comes to protecting their kids.
19. Learn anything and everything that will allow you to be more independent.
I’ve never liked depending on others, it makes me feel insecure and vulnerable. I like to have the option to depend on others, but I also want to know that I can do it by myself if needed. That’s one of the reasons I decided to get my driving license this year.
20. Live life in permanent beta
As someone with a Type A personality, I have to constantly remind myself that it’s OK to be imperfect. I will never be perfect. Life will never be perfect. So, I like to think that we are all living in permanent beta. It helps me to be kinder to myself and to empathise with others.
21. Today is not over yet.
It’s easy for us to feel our day was wasted if it was off to a bad start – like we woke up at 11am instead of 8am as intended. It’s easy to feel something is no longer worth starting today because it’s late in the afternoon and the day is almost over. But today is not over yet, so it’s never too late to do something meaningful, kind, creative, productive, enjoyable, or to change a habit and be the better person we want to be. Alexandra Franzen made me realise this through her well-written post from a while back.
22. Your vibe attracts your tribe.
Be the person you want to date or be friends with. Be around people that reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel. Because ain’t nobody got time for anybody else.
23. Sleep is not for the weak.
Bedtimes are just as important for adults as they are for kids. It’s easy for us to get less sleep when there’s no one to ground us for going to bed late. Make a date with your bed and stick to it like you would any other meeting at work. 7-8 hours of sleep makes a whole lot of difference to your ability to function as a human tomorrow.
24. You don’t have to pretend to like something that everyone else loves.
I’ve never enjoyed clubbing. Or drinking. Or getting drunk and wasted. I wondered why for the longest time. Am I not cool enough? I finally came to terms with it – I just don’t like it. There will always be something that your friends or everyone else in your age group seem to love doing, but if you don’t enjoy it, give yourself permission to not like it.
25. Some things are just worth paying a little more money for.
Comfortable undergarment. Business suit that fits. Basic skin care products – facial wash, moisturizer, sunscreen. Desserts.
26. Don’t eat food that make you feel bad.
Processed carbohydrates and sugar makes me sluggish. McDonalds (and fast food in general) is completely out for me. No matter how hungry I am, I know filling my stomach with junk is not worth how horrible I will feel afterwards.
27. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.
A famous quote from Helen Keller that has become my philosophy in life.