Easy-to-Digest Advice to My 23-Year Old Self (Part 1)

“I’m thirty, I don’t care if I’m basic.”

(Quick background story: My friend’s teenage daughter said that ordering pumpkin spice latte was so basic. My friend finds that usage of the term insulting. I agreed.  It’s a condescending label. I quietly decided that I don’t care and I’ll order PSL and do “basic” things if i felt like it.)

Establish core values

You know that quarter life crisis they keep talking about? Apparently, we get lost once in a while in certain points in life not just when you’re in your mid-twenties! Some though may have the first taste of it after graduating when all the structure of education is taken away. You find yourself flailing. What do I do? How do I get that glamorous job and a hip condo?

Before you drive yourself crazy trying to keep up with your millennial peers, keep calm and stand your ground. Establish some core values. It is like creating a North Star for yourself. It’s not like we grew up without them, it’s just now may be the time to be more conscious of them.

For me, it was coming up with 3 to 5 words/concepts (ex. integrity, joy, etc). While I may not always know what to do, keeping those values in mind help when I struggle with decisions. It’s not a guarantee to make life perfect but if you put it out there, it means you are trying, leaning in that direction.

Time and energy are your most valuable currencies

Yes, especially when you’re short on the financial side! Be careful not to waste or mindlessly give your time and energy away. Money is something we can see and feel but time and energy give us so much more. It can even earn us money.

Sometimes I remember my early twenties self and think of how “stupid” I was but I’m slowly trying to be gentle with my past, present and even future self. I was full of energy and eager to try so many things- something I could use these days. I used to:

  • stay up late to study instead of getting enough sleep
  • go to gatherings I’d be invited to and stay long even if I could feel my energy waning
  • spend a lot of my weekends scrolling on Friendster (Remember this existed? Haha!).

I just cringe at all that precious time wasted when I could have managed it better. Then I could have had more time for lakwatsa. If there’s one thing I don’t regret, it was spending time with friends. Hanging out with my college friends was so worth my time. We have so many funny and amazing memories! Viewing time and energy as wealth  helps you become more efficient, productive and even prevent anxiety. It can help you zone in on what you truly consider precious.

Stop people pleasing

One of the main reasons we waste our time and energy is because we say yes to others when we really don’t want to.

People pleasing, on the good side, shows that you are considerate of others. You want people to be comfortable. On the other hand, you will eventually resent having to always do what others want instead of what you want. Gosh this happens to me so many times! Also some people might, consciously or subconsciously, take advantage of your availability and drag you along with them. Sometimes you discover something new because of that person but what about those times when you’re absolutely sure you just want to say no?

Alain de Botton presented an interesting perspective: people pleasers are liars. Wow I never thought of myself that way but it woke me up to the fact that people pleasing is like telling a white lie after another just because I worry of what others think. Maybe if I wasn’t so busy worrying about others then I’d have more energy and confidence  to write a blog, create a podcast etcetera!

And so that is my unsolicited advice to my younger self and honestly current self. That’s just part 1, I’m anticipating more. Haha. We learn so many things along the way don’t we? I’ve got to admit, I consume pop-psychology, self-helpy things which may backfire once in a while. I find though that if you know what you want and you’re just a little bit crazy like me, those things are kind of helpful.

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