The things I wish I had known back then
As time goes on, we gather more knowledge and wisdom from the experiences that we go through. At times, we might look back and wish we had done things differently if only we had known what we know now, and yet, we may never have gained the knowledge if it wasn't for our past. Life is funny that way. I believe the best thing we can do is to pass on this wisdom to those that can benefit from it; that we can all not only learn from one another, but also teach one another different things. That's the main purpose of this post. Talking to my sister, and hearing some of the things the people her age go through, I felt like it would be good to share what I know today.
I spent the last week going around and asking people some of the things they wish they had known back then. Back then can be anywhere between five to ten years ago, depending on the situation you were in. For me, I think back to when I was in my late teens, early twenties. From all the information I have gathered through the many conversations I have had, I've come up with a list of the things I wish I had known. Hopefully for you younger readers, this can provide some guidance as you enter adulthood, and for those a little older, it might be nice to also reminisce and see how much you've grown.
1. The value of time
I remember when I was about to graduate high school, I felt like I had to have it all figured out. A lot of people in my class already had an idea of what they wanted to do. They had their dream college, their dream course, an ideal career path that they knew they wanted to pursue. I had no fucking clue what I wanted to do. It took me three course changes before I finally picked one and just decided to finish the course to get a degree even though I still wasn't sure if it was what I wanted. Not knowing who you are and who you want to become can take you down a dark hole.
I wish I had known that I had time. I had time to figure shit out. I didn't need to know everything straight away. One of the main benefits of being young means you have the time to make mistakes, and fix them. Life is about trial and error. Don't rush yourself into things when you aren't sure whether you want to do them. You don't have to go to college straight away. You don't have to settle down and get married straight away. You don't have to do anything unless of course it's what you want to do.
On the other side of things, I wish I hadn't wasted so much time on dumb shit like going out and getting drunk every night. Not only did I wake up hungover the next day, but I also ended up spending so much money on stupid things when I could have been investing it or saving it. I'll explain more about the money aspect of this on a different point, but with regards to time, I didn't really benefit from doing any of this at all. Going out every now and then is fine, but doing it almost every single night now seems stupid to me. The friends I used to go out and get drunk with, weren't really life long friends (except for when I'd go out with my best friend, Sep, but she doesn't count here). I wish I had known how valuable time is. Maybe if I did, my situation would be different today.
2. Go for what you want, and put the work behind it
Having a goal is only one side of it. You have to put the hard work behind every goal for you to achieve it. The good thing about being young is you still have the leeway to try different things. If you have a skill, hone in on it, expand your knowledge and go for it! Dedicate yourself to the things you want to achieve. I sometimes wish I had put in more effort into school. I graduated college with fairly good grades and all that, but honestly, I could have done better. Stop being lazy about things, and more importantly, I wish I hadn't used "I'm still young" as an excuse to why I wasn't working harder. It's never too early for you to start building on your future.
3. Your world is only as small as you make it to be
You are the only person that can decide how small or how big you want your world to be. There is nothing wrong with wanting to stay and live in the same town you grew up in. If you feel at home already, then by all means, do you. But for those of you that dream of going elsewhere but feel like they can't because it's the unknown, you, yourself are the ones that are limiting your world to the space around you. Don't be afraid to explore. See what else is out there. The world is massive. It took me years to fully understand this, and it was only when I spoke to friends that left the Philippines that I felt like I could to it too. You don't need to stay if you don't want to. You'll be scared shitless at first. I know I was. But I wish I had taken the chance earlier. It's okay to be different.
4. You won't find your purpose in a relationship
Man, do I wish I could go back in time, grab myself by my shoulders, and shake me while I yell this to my face. While it's okay to want to grow and figure life out with someone, it isn't okay to compromise your dreams and the things you want to achieve for the sake of making your relationship work. You need to understand what you want first before you can fully understand how your relationship can help support your goals.
One of the main things I realised later on was that I was using my relationship as an excuse to not go for what I wanted mainly because I was afraid I might fail at achieving my dreams. I was also afraid that if I went for what I wanted, maybe I'd end up going down a different path than my partner, and things wouldn't work out between us. I didn't want to be alone. I was afraid to be alone, so I used to always base my decisions off of my relationship, rather than for myself. You're going to be miserable if you do this. One day, you'll most likely regret it. Don't make other peoples' dreams your own, if they aren't really what you want. So as early as now, if you already know that you might want different things than whoever it is you're with, let go. Focus on yourself, and eventually you'll meet someone along the way that's heading towards the same direction as you.
5. It's okay to be sad, but don't let it define you
I'll admit back then, I struggled a lot with sad days. I went through some unfortunate things, and fell into a dark cycle. I had the same routine for months. Wake up, eat instant noodles, go to whatever class, get home, drink alcohol, repeat. I let my sadness engulf me. It took me awhile to understand that it's okay to be sad, you just have to make sure you don't let that sadness define who you are. Acknowledge that you're feeling down, and do something about it. I believe a lot of it has to do with the way you train your mind to think. If you wake up thinking today is going to be a bad day, well it most likely will be a bad day. But if you wake up in the morning, and set yourself to believe it might be a good day, then you can get through it. Your sadness isn't who you are, it's just an emotion you are feeling. Conquer that emotion. Embrace it, and then beat it.
6. Struggle is good. You're going to make mistakes. Don't be so hard on yourself
I remember always feeling like such a failure. Every time I was having a hard time figuring out my next step, it would freeze me up inside. I remember the first few job applications I sent out that I didn't get any responses to. I felt so demotivated and lost. But that's okay. I wish I had known that it was okay to fail. I always felt pressured to be on top of everything. To know everything. I realise now that I was putting the pressure on myself, no one else was. No one really expects you to know everything right off the bat. So give yourself a little break. I know it sounds cliche, but what's more important is that you're trying. Don't let your failures stop you from trying again. Just take it one day at a time. I promise you'll learn a lot from the experience, and it will make you a better person in the end.
7. Get over it
Shit happens, and shit will continue to happen. Life is a struggle, and I wish I had learned a lot earlier how to take control of my emotions. I can guarantee you that the problems you have today won't even matter five years from now. Get over the drama. And if it's other people that keep dragging you back in, remove yourself from that environment. Trust me, it isn't worth fretting over. A lot of times I feel like we as humans react to our emotions straight away rather than analysing them to figure out how to move forward. We need to learn to stop doing this. There are some things we can't control, but learning how to move on is something we can do.
8. Choose yourself, value yourself, invest in yourself
This is definitely easier said than done. When I was younger, the friendships and relationships I had were so important to me to the point where I put everyone before myself. I especially did this with the relationship I was in. Though it isn't bad to think of others, when you do it to the extent of how I did it, you'll lose a sense of your identity. I stopped myself for going for some of the things I wanted to do. I could have traveled a lot earlier, but didn't. I could have went abroad a lot early, but I didn't. I made so many decisions based off of how other people rather than my myself. Choose yourself. Please, please, please, choose yourself. If there's anything you want to do, do it. If there's a class you want to take, take it. A hobby you want to pursue, pursue it. A country you want to visit, visit it. Don't lower your standards. Don't settle.
9. The value of money
I wish I hadn't spent so much on dumb shit. When I think back, I wish I had been smart enough to have invested my money in something or even just saved a little bit of it. I spent a lot of money on other people; gifts, paying for their food, vacations. Dumb shit. What did I get back? An empty wallet. It's alright to splurge every now and then, but trust me when I say, money matters. I should have had more financial goals. I should have thought about financial stability for the future. It's all easy when you don't have any responsibilities that you have to pay for like bills, or a loan, but one day, you might get to the point where you will, and it's always smarter to start thinking ahead.
10. Do you. Stop caring about other peoples' opinions
I was such a people pleaser when I was younger. I used to seek validation in almost everything I did. I wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing by other peoples' terms, and not my own. You know what happens when you care too much about what other people think and what other people want? You'll start to hate your life. Fuck what other people think. Most of the time, they're only thinking for themselves anyways, and not for your own well-being. The only person that can live your life is you, so do what makes you happy. Do you.
11. You are what you surround yourself with
A lot of people believe you are a product of your environment. If you surround yourself with negative influence, you yourself will also be negative. So if you know that the people you're with aren't having a positive influence in your life, get yourself out of there. Honestly, you don't need them, and more times than not, you're better off without them. Remove yourself from bad environments. I view people and places as chapters in my life. I am meant to either learn something from them, or teach them something. The thing about chapters is they have an ending. You need to learn when a friendship, relationship, or environment is hindering you from growing, and when it comes to that, you need to learn to let go.
12. Take care of your body
You know when the older generation say things like, "trust me, you'll feel it one day"? Trust me, they weren't kidding. The things you do to your body will come and bite you in the ass later. I'm not saying don't go out and have fun, and eat the things you want to eat. I'm just saying if you're injured, take care of the injury; if you have tummy problems, take care of the stomach problems. Don't just sit there and assume the problems will go away; they won't. Go take a walk occasionally. Eat some vegetables every once in awhile!
I have a knee injury from back in 2010 that I let heal by itself, and this thing still fucks me up sometimes today. I have to be careful in almost any physical thing I do because sometimes it will "pop" out of its socket. Be smart or I swear you'll end up like me who's in my late twenties, but already have body pains all over. Not. Fun. At. All.
And that's it!
That's my list of the things I wish I had known back then. There's probably a million other things that I forgot about, but I think this is good enough for now. You should never regret the things you've gone through, but you can always learn from other peoples' experiences and use them for your future.
I want to thank the people I talked to throughout the week that gave me some input! I won't name you individually since there's quite a few of you, and a lot of the conversations were in passing, but I look forward to many more talks in the future! For those of you reading, feel free to hit me up if you ever have a topic in mind!