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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Obligatory Turning 30 Post





2015 was the year I realized that approaching 30s can be quite daunting. When you reassess where your life is heading. But I also learned along the way that it shouldn’t feel that way if you don’t allow it to. That it’s really just a number.

I look back to the past almost-a-decade since I graduated from college, the last 5 years since I quit my investment banking job, and I realized how much life has been great and fair to me. That a certain age shouldn’t decide what you can and cannot do. That life will continue to evolve and surprise you. It’s a matter of how you cope and allow all those changes in your life.


It’s okay to fail. Sometimes it could be a good thing.

Right after college in 2006, I applied for graduate school. My mom and aunt thought I should apply. Not knowing what I was really getting myself into and being so used to people deciding for me, I did. But I didn’t get in. It was my first taste of rejection, and it wasn’t such a great feeling. I considered it as my first real failure. I was 21. But during the process, I had to apply for a passport because I needed an official government ID. I never would have thought that two years after, I’d be needing it and would now be one of my most prized possessions.

In the midst of my quarter-life crisis, resenting everything that was happening in my life, I thought of applying to law school. I thought it would be an escape. Just like the business school, I didn’t really think things through. Looking back now, I think I only considered it because I wanted to lead a life based on what I thought I want, which was really just a form of escape. Two times I tried, and I didn’t get in again. A failure again, I thought.

After failing two times, I let it go. And I’m glad I did and I’m glad I failed at those things. Because I don’t think I’d discover traveling if I continued on pursuing them.

The things you want in life will change.

I stayed put in investment banking. Pay was really good, I was climbing up the corporate ladder at a really good pace, and I was getting used to the security it was giving me and my family. But slowly, stress was taking over my life. I was always angry and negative, I was always complaining, and ranting. But it was also those years that I slowly discovered my love for travel and photography. And I was able to travel because I had the means to travel.

However, slowly, the idea of extended traveling was developing in my mind. And that to do it, I had to quit my job. It took a few years before I accepted that it’s what I really wanted to do. I thought of my parents and what they would say about it. I thought of the things I’ll be giving up – a good career and financial security. I though myself ungrateful, and I thought that it was just a form of escape.

But overtime I’ve learned to accept that I’ve changed. That my well-being and what makes me happy were more important than the ambitions I thought I had. That maybe I wasn’t meant to be a career-type of person. That it’s okay to be a bit different compared to my peers.

Discomfort can be a catalyst for change.

Over the years I’ve realized that those times when I was confused with where my life was leading? They were all necessary in leading up to the time I finally decided that I was going to quit my stressful job and travel. No matter how much we want our life to be smooth sailing, there will be moments when we’d be forced to reassess. Those times of discomfort are necessary for you to take the time to think of the life you have. That the reason for it is that you want to change something. Acknowledge it and act on it.

Just try.

The thing is you will never be sure if things will work out. I initially had doubts that I’d be able to save up for the trip, I wasn’t sure that I could make it all happen. I wasn’t sure if I will or will not regret it after. I always had doubts. I worried something tragic will happen, I worried about my chance of finding a job when I finish my trip. But I knew I had to try and make it happen. Better to try than be stuck, right?

You will lose people and relationships in your life.

I don’t just mean the romantic kind, even friendships. I’ve learned over time that at some point you’d have to let go of some relationships. Eventually, you will grow apart and lead different lives. Your interests and priorities in life will change. But it’s okay. Because new people will come into your life, those that you need at that certain point in your life.

Do not make a marriage or a relationship a goal before you turn 30.

Build a life that you’re happy in. Do not compromise your dreams and ambitions just because you think it’s not conducive to having a long-term relationship that can eventually lead to a marriage. Or just because you only have a few years left before turning 30.

Think of the bigger picture. 

Whenever there are moments when I ask myself why something in my life didn’t work out, the way I wanted to – I look back on the last few years and remember what I’ve always prayed for. I prayed for the chance to see and travel the world. Back then, I was only able to travel in Luzon, eventually I was able to travel in Visayas and Mindanao. Over the years, I got the chance to go to India and Nepal. I’ve come to be at peace with all the disappointments that have happened so far. I knew they all happened because they weren’t part of the bigger picture.

Let life surprise you.

This is what have made my life so colourful and enriching the past few years. When you say: - ‘Yes, let’s make it happen!’ to your seemingly-crazy dreams and ideas - When you accept the mishaps and disappointments - When you allow your mind and your heart to be open to new experiences and chance encounters

The life I have now isn’t what I thought it was going to be when I was 18, 21, 23, or even back in 2011. A lot of things didn’t work out the way I wanted to. But the life I have now is way better than what I have imagined it to be.

Let life surprise you. Most of the time, it’s a whole lot better than what you thought you’ll have. ;)

Impermanence.

If there’s one thing I learned the past five years is this. That nothing in life is permanent. Life is a series of moments – both good and the bad. At one point in your life you will feel as if everything is hopeless – precisely because something good ended. But soon you will feel happy again. This is when I realized that the bad passes, as well as the good.

Breathe.

This is just a small thing really, but it’s a good way of dealing with any stressful situation. This has been my first solution to any stressful problem – to close my eyes, and take a deep breath. Inhale. Exhale. Tell yourself that everything will be okay. The problem doesn’t go away magically, of course. But a few seconds of deep breaths will help clear your mind, and will help you solve any problem logically, and in a step-by-step manner. Breathe when any situation feels so overwhelming.

Go out and explore nature.

It’s very rare that I get to go home early to run in my old university. I love running there because there are a lot of trees, there are only a few cars driving by, and the sunset view is gorgeous. But I always try to run during the weekends. A few hours of running and walking surrounded by nature a week gets me refreshed.

Traveling is one of the best ways to enjoy life.

Traveling saved me. Traveling made me realize how wonderful life is. Back when I was still working in investment banking, I was for the most part angry, resentful, and stressed out. And waking up like this almost every single day was such a waste of life. That’s what I realized after the Big Trip. It’s so much better and refreshing to wake up every day (either sober or hangovered) with such a thirst for life, for new experiences. And what’s more wonderful, is when life/traveling surprises you with more exciting experiences and adventures.

Be true to, and love yourself.

Following my heart has made me accept who I truly am as a person. In the process, I disappointed people that are important to me. And it was very very hard and painful. But as one important person told me, sometimes we need conflict. Conflict to bring out all the issues and to understand each other more. To make the relationship better. I have also learned to fight for my dreams and my character. When you know in your heart that you are not doing anything wrong or not hurting anyone intentionally, then you should do what makes you happy. You don’t have to explain your happiness to anyone. Do not let anyone question how you should live your life. It’s your life. It was definitely not easy for me, but things are indeed better now.