25 Reflections, Values, and Lessons I Know at 38

I just turned 38 last November 22. The title of my post is supposed to be “38 Things I Know At 38” but that would be too long. Since I feel like I’m 25 despite being 38 (they were right, regardless of whether you’re 30, 40, 50, or somewhere in between, you remain 25 years old in spirit), I only listed 25, my symbolic age.

1) I BELIEVE IN FIRST CHANCES. We often heard about the wisdom of second chances, of making things right the next time, and second chances are quite thrilling and unforgettable. But those things that I did for the first time despite being scared to death are quite thrilling and unforgettable, too! And some of these first times led me to develop a skill that I never thought I could have, of opening more doors of opportunity, of growing up and learning, changing my life completely. Perfect example: When I adopted a dog for the very first time after 36 years since birth of not having one, my life changed. I had a bad habit that disappeared because of them. I now have two dogs. I can’t imagine a life without them.

2) NEVER SAY NEVER. Never say that you will never ever do this or that, EVER. Well, let me tell you this, I once caught myself saying that I will never fall in love with a man way, way older than me. But I did quite unexpectedly. I fell in love with someone who was seventeen years older but still quite good-looking, unmarried, and with two children. It was a short-lived relationship. It was my sweetest, unforgettable mistake.

3) DON’T JUDGE THE BOOK BY ITS COVER. I always treasure these words of wisdom of someone whom I just read in a newspaper: “Not to let impressions or judgments stop me from getting to know someone at a more intimate and special level. Be very afraid of how first impressions can hinder you from possibly the best relationships in this world.”

4) I CANNOT PLEASE EVERYBODY. Some people will like me, and some won’t. But I try to not let it stop me from doing the things that I love, whether they like it or not.

5) FRIENDS ARE GREAT BUT ALWAYS KEEP FAMILY AS TOP PRIORITY. At 38, I’m single. I don’t have children. And my family are my brothers and sister and my one remaining parent, my father. Friends are only there when they’re there. But your family, they are the ones who’d be there beside you on your sickbed despite your sins. They’d be the ones who will throw your poop or urine to the comfort room because you cannot do it yourself.

6) THAT SAID, I SHOULD ALSO KEEP MYSELF AS TOP PRIORITY. To never forget to take care of my myself first, love myself first, before I can share my love and care with others. You cannot share what you do not have. Applies here also is filing for a sick leave when you’re not feeling well. Your employer will not pay for your medical expenses when you force yourself to work to please your boss who, by the way, doesn’t really care about you. He/she is busy thinking about his/her own ambitions, of trying to please the higher ups, just like you, just like everyone else. So file that sick leave when you’re not feeling well! Or even when you feel like not going to work and you need a breathing space away from all the stress.

7) BE NOT AFRAID OF SHOWING YOUR TRUE FEELINGS. When I find a guy attractive, I tell him. When I don’t like what a person whom I considered a friend did to me, I tell her, regardless of whether she denies it or not.

8) NEVER LIE TO YOURSELF. We cannot be honest with others until we are first honest with ourselves.

9) KEEP THAT CHILDHOOD INNOCENCE. I like comic books. I still like those songs from Sesame Street and Batibot. I still have that childlike reaction when fascinated by something, or by someone. In my darkest and saddest moments, I have that ability (thank you, God) to still laugh at the silliest of things and that helps in making myself feel better.

10) I LOVE ONE-ON-ONE CONVERSATIONS. With a group, most of the time you talk about superficial things. Trivial stuff, chismis. But in one-on-one, you’re focused on this person’s story. And if he/she is a good listener, you can also share your own story and somewhere during your sharing, you are also discovering something about yourself. And somewhere during this person’s sharing, you are discovering something about this person that are not so obvious but because he/she shared a secret with you, you start to feel that you and this person have a bond.

11) THE QUESTION IS NOT “WHO I AM?”, IT’S “WHOSE I AM?”. Somebody who met me for the first time has described me friendly and gaily. A higher up during a meeting has described me as obtrusive. An aunt has described me rude, impolite, a shame. My ex-convict cousin (may he rest in peace) admired my quietness and being modest. My only sister thinks that I am brave. A grouchy colleague has accused me of being grouchy. A high school classmate thinks that I’m maarte pero mabait naman pala. I’ve also been called weird, highly sensitive, frank, nasa loob ang kulo, walang inuurungan, madaldal, sobrang tahimik, magaling, hindi magaling… I am A LOT OF THINGS to a lot of different people. And they’re all part of who I am.

12) TO ALWAYS TRUST MY GUT FEEL. Have you ever experienced your stomach turning when you hear someone say something that you feel is not what it seems, or just by seeing someone for the first time and you feel discomfort and you don’t know where it’s coming from, trust that gut feel. If you want to avoid that person, avoid that person. Sadly, there are times that I did not listen to it because I thought I’m just being judgmental but it turned out to be right. What’s that saying? Love everyone but only trust a few?

13) THAT SAID, “I don’t believe in taking right decisions. I take decisions and then  make them right.”

14) THE FUTURE IS NOT WRITTEN IN STONE. Your past does not define your future. Life can change in a moment’s notice.

15) I’VE ALWAYS LOVED WRITING. When I was younger, I was writing a script of a drama scene. Back then I didn’t know I was writing a script. It’s not yet part of my vocabulary as a child. But I did write script because my imagination was quite active then it stopped. Ningas cugon I guess. Or perhaps I don’t know what I was doing back then. When it comes to talent, nobody encouraged me. Despite that, I continue to write. I keep a blog. And I take comfort with what Jessica Zafra said that you don’t need to be a graduate of Creative Writing or any related course to become a better writer. Great writers simply offered these three tips to become a better writer: read, read, and read.

16) THAT SAID, I write to release my demons. (Hello, Neil Gaiman.)

17) It’s interesting. And I have empirical evidences to prove this. You can get an inside scoop about what is happening in the marriage of a person based on how he/she reacts or treats single people. Happy married people will give you inspiration, hope, and guidance. That it is okay to be single so make the most out of it. Unhappy married people make fun of the single people. Because they are so problematic and insecure with their own marriage, they try to conceal it by putting down a single person, provoking that single person to doubt himself/herself, pairing him/her off with anyone they could think of, making them feel that they are “unlucky” if they don’t get married.

18) Regardless of whether you are single or married, what is important is that we love.

19) When you’re not too conscious about money, success, and recognition, when you’re just focused on doing your craft or your job well, money, success, and recognition will follow.

20) If it’s meant for you, it will come to you. Kahit ilang sibat pa ang humarang. Naniniwala ako dito. So stop blaming or accusing somebody that if only he/she did not steal that post or opportunity, it should be mine. Nooo! If it’s really for you, it will come to you without you lifting a finger.

21) Just be yourself and don’t be afraid to commit mistakes. We’re all but human. What’s important is that you’re taking risks.

22) If you feel sad, then be sad! Because that’s what you truly feel. It’s a natural human emotion.

With your sadness, don’t do something about it. DO SOMETHING WITH IT! Sadness is not a disease. Sadness, to me, is an important experience. For it teaches you to be real. To be human. And it forces you to move. To examine yourself. It can also move you to greater heights!

Sadness has helped writers write the best story they’ve ever written. Sadness has helped musicians compose the best song or music ever sung or played. Sadness has helped artists paint the best work of art. A selfish endeavor for the sake of healing oneself that turned into something selfless because of the inspiration it brings to other people who are going through something.

Sadness can be a gift. It’s not a wonderful emotion but it’s a gift that only you can understand and learn from. It’s uncomfortable but it will tell you who you are at a particular moment.

23) I learned this from a guy I dated (he’s married now, by the way): Sometimes, you need to mingle with people you don’t like. Make it part of your human experience for here you will also learn.

24) I do think about the what-ifs. Like what if I do get married? Who would that guy be? Will I turn out to be a good wife, a good mother? But right now, or perhaps for the rest of my life, not having a wedding ring wrapped around my finger is okay.

25) I am what I am. If you don’t like me, that’s your choice. If you like me, thank you. I hope we can chat over a delicious chocolate cake or a bottle of coke one day.




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