What I’d tell my 21 year old self if I could go back
Today, I’m 28 years old. While most people think I’m still young, sassy, and never seem to age, I’ve learned quite a bit in the early stage of my adulthood. I only wish I’d grown up faster to tell myself these advice that could have put me on the right track towards a better life.
School doesn’t matter, experience does.
I’d always worried about not getting that “A” on my report card than figuring out my career path. This is not because my Asian parents pressured me to, but because my mind had been polluted with 15 years of the standard rules, instructions, and “how-to” books for a successful life. The truth is, school doesn’t teach you much. School doesn’t teach you how to behave infront of your boss, dates, friends, neighbors, spouse, loved ones. School doesn’t teach you where your passion lies. School doesn’t teach you how to fix your car if your tire blew out. School doesn’t teach you how to think “outside the box” so you can own a multi-millionaire business. The best way to learn is to throw yourself at life and accumulate a rich collection of experiences that you can use for your future. Succeed or fail — you’ll learn either way.
Say “no” when you don’t feel like it
It’s extremely hard to reject invitations or requests, especially if it’s your family or friends who ask. I remember this one time I hesitated because my college buddies asked me to drink with them on a weekend night. Afraid that they’d label me as the “party pooper” of our group, I skipped my prior plans of trying a new recipe only to take a sip of Budweiser for the next 4 hours. It was probably one of the most regretful (and boring) night I ever had. The lesson here? Express what YOU want and don’t be afraid of crushing other people’s feelings and expectations. After all, it’s your choice, your life. No one should dictate what you should do — that’s your job.
Expect people to change, not for you but for themselves
It broke my heart when I discovered my ex no longer cared about me. The selfless, thoughtful, and affectionate man I once knew is now dating dozens of girls in search of his “perfect match.” I knew what he wanted, but it was impossible for me, because then I’d need to get plastic surgery, a super-strict gym trainer, hundreds of “how to be street smart” books, and probably an intensive course for speaking Mandarin. People change, because they’re growing up — faster than what you expect your world to be. And that’s life. Everyone wants to be in a better place than where they currently are and with people they can team up with to achieve their dreams and goals. So if you’re holding someone back from their newfound passion or potential, you’re only going to be pulling them away from you. People change for themselves, so should you.
Stop playing, start learning
I used to play computer games every single day, 12 hours non-stop. I was so hooked that I’d prepare a mountain of peanut butter-jelly sandwiches right next to my keyboard, just because missing 5 minutes meant death to my avatar. But after I quit playing for 3 years, I realized all that time I’d invested into playing didn’t get me the house I wanted or the mad skills of a chef. It only brought me temporary relief from life’s hardships. So if you want to change your life, you got to change your habits. Start asking yourself, what do I want to learn? Where do I want to explore? Where do I want myself to be? This will give you a good starting point to refocus your life, and overtime you’ll develop skills that will push you further to where you envisioned yourself to be.
Give less s*** about what others think
Let’s be honest, no one is perfect and no one should even try. I’m sure everyone secretly wants to be attractive, but it’s so damn tiring to present our finest selves every single time we walk out the door. The sad part is, most people don’t notice (or even care about) how much effort you put into your looks, so why bother? Care less about what you think others think of you and focus more on your strengths. That’s how you’ll start walking with real confidence instead of worrying about your flaws.
Never try finding love from dating sites or apps
Unless you’ve won the lottery or shaken the hand of a famous celebrity, I don’t advise finding your ideal partner from Match, eHarmony, Tinder or any of those dating platforms. You can never force love from online strangers who only want one thing from you (and no, that’s not companionship). Save yourself the gas and money and buy yourself a lavish gift instead or something that can equip you with vital life skills.
Always ask “why”
Why did he suddenly ask about my schedule? Why do people get tanner quicker at the beach vs the sidewalk? Why are people voting for Donald Trump? When you always question what people do, how things work, and how things are, you become smarter. You start to read people, almost instinctively, and that’s where street smart kicks in. If you’re stuck in a sticky situation, you figure out the best possible options without asking for help. It all starts with why. Keep yourself curious — it’s a good habit to have if you want to surpass your peers.
Mimic the successful
People are successful for a reason — it’s because they’re good at what they do. Yes, you might feel a slight tinge of jealousy, perhaps an uncomfortable knot in your gut, knowing that there’s someone better than you. And yes, that may be the most demoralizing feeling you’d ever have in your life. But to become successful, you got to learn from the successful. That’ll mean putting your ego aside and figuring out how to be like them, or better. Recognize your capabilities, but more importantly know your willpower.
Be okay with what you have, but never settle for ‘enough’
Most of us aren’t born in a mansion with shiny new iPads and a housemaid to fix our “I-don’t-give-a-shit” attitude. And that’s good. Because when life throws a bunch of curve balls at you, you learn how to quickly respond to these problems, face on, and root out the best possible solutions based on what you have. But whatever you do, never settle for less. And never, ever settle for “enough.” Because once you settle for “enough,” you set your happiness bar with the second best in every aspect of your life. Career, your partner, the home you’ve been living in for 20+ years. You deserve much better for what you do and what you’ve done. Just keep this in mind wherever you go, “Never settle for less than the best.”
Stay strong, girl.