25 Things I’m Still Trying to Figure Out + 1 I Already Have

In two days, I turn 26.

It’s a rather daunting prospect, the reasons being things I admittedly forced out of my mind when I turned 25. 25 was the midpoint, I told myself. I was allowed to act and go about things like I was still in my early 20’s.

 

26 though, that’s kind of past the middle, right? A number that easily rolls off the tongue, sounds so adult, giving the impression of stability and demanding respect. An age that, honestly, I don’t quite feel I live up to yet.

In certain standards, I believe I’ve wasted away the early years of adulthood – although that’s not to say I have regrets. I’ve made mistakes, learned a lot, and had fun – all of which matter significantly. After all, what’s the point of life when you’re not living? While I do wish I had figured more of my sh*t out along the way, I realize I don’t exactly have to be too hard on myself. Somewhere in the process, I’ve discovered more about myself, enough to understand that it’s okay not to have everything completely figured out right now, like:

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How to be less of a bitch. Granted, being a bitch is kind of an innate thing and I’m far from advocating being less than true to yourself. But I could definitely learn a thing or two on when (and to who) it’s appropriate to be one. In front of a bank teller with zero customer service? Cool. To your mother, who’s scolding you for things you didn’t do? Not cool.

How to cook. From refusing to go near a gas range to making my own sunny-side up eggs, I’ve definitely made strides in this department. It’s still a long way from being Heston Blumenthal though, considering I have yet to achieve making my bacon perfectly crispy. What is the secret, world?!

How to be a good daughter. As I get older, my mother does not get any younger. I feel like I’m doing her a disservice by still acting like a child instead of a responsible, mature woman who’s about to turn 26. Heck, she was a mother at my current age. Mainly, my frustration stems from not having a plan yet on how to take care of her later on in life, which she totally deserves after all the sacrifices she’s made to raise us.

How to be financially responsible (and independent!). Another failing as a daughter. Not that my mother fails to make sure I’m well provided for, from the basic necessities to my whimsical wants, but in effect, I believe I’ve just taken life for granted. I’m broke? I can always ask Mom to send me extra. I need to pay something? She’ll cover it. I think by this point, I should be able to make major purchases with little to no parental support. That, and I haven’t quite gotten around to start saving yet.

How to not waste time on people who aren’t worth it. With my job, it’s downright impossible not to know a lot of people. Except, I seem to have this idiotic tendency to maintain wide circles of friends (or ‘friends’) when I don’t necessarily like everyone. This is a work in progress, me gradually filtering out people who just want to cause intrigue in my life, or those fair-weathered pals, or those who just take and take without giving anything in return. That said, I still continue making mistakes in who to trust.

How to change a flat tire and generally take better care of my car. I do actually know now how to change a flat tire – a fact I’m very proud of – except I can’t do it myself yet. Those nuts are hard to loosen, man! I want to be able to do this myself, so I don’t need to ask for help. Also, my car is a cemetery for old water bottles and a shoe closet rolled into one, and I honestly need to end the habit of making it look like I live in the car. Because, no, I don’t.

How to pick battles. There are just some things not worth fighting about. Sometimes, the need to prove I’m right is misguided and unnecessary, and so it is so much better to just keep my idiotic mouth shut and let things play out without saying things I would possibly regret later on.

How to not get carried away by emotions. Okay, I’m a stereotypical Scorpio. I’m intense. So when I say I have the feels, I HAVE THE FEELS!!! This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but my weakness lies in not being able to control my emotions, and at times they end up going out of hand, letting me hurt people and just basically landing myself in stupid situations that could have been avoided.

How to figure out when I’m PMSing or otherwise. Actually, I really hate it when people automatically assume I’m PMSing when I’m being emotionally difficult, like somehow hormone fluctuations and body chemistry invalidate feelings. Please. But admittedly, women are also somehow responsible for that misconception, by using PMS as an excuse to act out. I know I have, just out of principle that it’s a less complicated explanation. But really, I also cannot tell when I’m PMSing – at least not until the following day when I realize just how irrational I was being. And sometimes, it’s too late to fix things. Hence , excuse, when I really should just stop.

How to be a good sister. For 19 years and counting, I’ve been a big sister. Eight of those, I’ve been mostly responsible for my sibling. I’ve always thought I was doing an okay job, letting him discover himself and figuring out his identity, but certain recent revelations have forced me to think that perhaps I was too lenient, that I should have looked out for him a little more. I don’t think it’s too late to change that, but I currently navigate the murky waters of being a little stricter. I’ve yet to figure out if that would actually make me a better sister, but for now it’s the only course of action I know I should take.

How to avoid overthinking and dwelling. I think it’s always going to be in my nature to overthink. I’m simply the kind of person who would want to go through things over and over again, and leave no stone unturned before I could fully move on, otherwise I’d be left with a handful of what-ifs. But if there’s anything I’ve learned – just this year, actually – it’s that there are some things not worth a second thought. It’s actually helped give me a more positive life outlook, so I’m looking forward to exploring this a little more.

How to stop procrastinating. To be honest, it’s how I roll. Also to be honest, I find this a childish tactic – one I should actually work on giving up on. It’s time to be responsible and actually do things ahead of time while I can. I certainly don’t need to wait until my phone bill is nearing its credit limit to pay, and yet I keep doing it. (And I haven’t gotten around to renewing my driver’s license yet, oops.)

How to figure out when I need to do things on my own, and when to ask for help. Pretty self-explanatory, really. In terms of dealing with problems, though, I will admit to surprising myself this year. For someone who usually rallies the troops to form a support group, I’ve found peace in keeping to myself, and only opening up to very few people when necessary. However, this has, in effect, made me a little reticent, if not reclusive. I’m not sure I like it just yet.

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How to prioritize quality. Dear certain bar I’ve been frequenting lately, I love your ladies night promo but they give me the worst hangovers, and I don’t even drink that much (?) or mix my booze. I think it’s the cheap liquor, because honestly how would any establishment afford drinks on the house until 11:00 p.m.? That said, it is okay to go to Gaisano Tabunok and spend less than Php 400 on trendy blouses, while spending a little more on classic pieces in H&M, Forever 21 and Zara; or splurging on an i7 and a DDR4 for future-proofing.

How to be a little more disciplined at the workplace. I seriously suck at deadlines. My publisher, whenever exasperated with me, likes to say, “You came from the newspaper, how can you not meet deadlines?!” In connection to the ‘how to stop procrastinating’ point, give me three weeks to do an article, and I’ll only start it one to two days before the deadline. The rest of the time, I’m useless. While I actually think I need time pressure to produce something f*cking brilliant (because, yes, I have my moments and I’m not ashamed to admit it), I need to learn how to make the most out of my time, too.

How to have time for myself. Speaking of time, I’m in the middle of a post-fight conversation with my mother, and she’s expressing that I need to take a break and make time for myself. Two of my best friends, Fiona and Manna, have also expressed similar sentiments. I’m laughing, because how impossible. So I’m putting that here. And maybe I really should count how many offsets I have and use those days to be a total couch potato. But not this month. I can’t take a break this month.

How to stop relying on unhealthy coping mechanisms. Another work in progress, with one significant breakthrough: I finally quit smoking. I don’t think I can ever not drink, but it’s also important to note that I’ve found I don’t always turn to a bottle in times of duress. Self-harm is a thing of the past. That leaves sulking and not eating, which I think are lesser evils that can be sorted out eventually.

How to wear more colors and prints. There is just no way I will stop wearing black, so as a compromise, my how-to is to incorporate more colors. And no, my usual gray, navy blue, white or red alternatives do not count. I think green will look nice on me? Really though, I think I’m fine with any color because solids are a comfort zone. Prints though, how exactly do you wear prints? I only know houndstooth, pinstripe and polka-dots, but everything else (*cough* florals) is alien.

How to not give in to impulse shopping. Especially for stuff I already have. Just this week, I fell head over heels in love with a trench coat in Zara, and besides being completely inappropriate for the Philippine climate, my friend Anton helpfully pointed out that no, Patty, you have enough coats and jackets. To last a winter in Westeros? I don’t see how that can be a bad thing. Also on this list: Impractical boots, and more black clothes.

How to get back my love for writing. I’m in a bit of a professional existential crisis right now, because I’m nowhere near to becoming the next Anna Wintour or having a New York Times bestseller. Instead, work has come to making sure people attend an event and being effective on social media. That’s not to say I’m not grateful for the opportunity to learn new skills (hi, Eva!), but… I really miss writing. I haven’t been back in the groove for a while.

How to accessorize. Dear lawrd, I don’t know how people do it. Do you match your accessories with your clothes? Do you match your accessories with each other? How do you mix and match? I can appreciate seeing it on other people, but I wouldn’t know the first thing about accessorizing. I stick to the basics, preferring to let my entire ensemble (or choice of footwear) speak for itself, but it’s been kind of boring.

How to take care of myself a little better. According to a Buzzfeed video I just saw, Kylie Jenner, who is definitely nowhere near the age of 26, is using eye cream. Eye cream. I put on makeup, and sure I use moisturizer, but I’ve had more nights of forgetting to take off my makeup than I want to admit in public. Also: I should wear my glasses more often, go to the dentist more frequently, heck even get my nails done instead of waiting until I break fingernails. Also I need to get back to doing CrossFit!

How to follow my own advice. Because I’m so darn good at shelling out advice (yes, I am), but I suck at following them myself.

How to figure out my self worth. I have this thing about wanting to be punished when I do something wrong. Atoning for something makes me feel better and nails down the life lesson a bit more. I acknowledge how this is a completely mad mindset, and really, we all make mistakes. I definitely don’t need to be hard on myself for those. I can be better, because I know – despite how far off and foreign of a concept it is at the moment – that I deserve better. And that’s one thing I also have to think about, to truly figure out my self worth without feeling the need to be validated by factors other than the one that truly matters – myself.

How to forgive myself for certain mistakes. While I live on the principle of no regrets, I admit there are still some things that I need to make peace with. When it’s all in the past, there’s really nothing much I can do in the present to change things around. Truly moving forward is a choice, and I don’t want to spend the rest of my life carrying around the burdens of the past. So, work in progress.

And the one thing that I’ve figured out:

How to tell someone how I really feel about him. For so long, the romantic side of me built up that moment in my head, but it was something I could never bring myself to go through back then, because I was immensely terrified to be rejected. But you know what, it doesn’t work that way. Eventually, I found that you know your feelings are more genuine and meaningful when you simply want to make them known to the other person without expecting anything in return. That is how you do it. (And yes, he knows.)

 

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