21 Life Lessons I learned Before Turning 21


This year has been the roughest year in my life. I mean, not 2018 ok? I mean, the 20-year old me experienced things that I did not expect to experience. The 20 year old me has been the craziest version of me, literally and figuratively.

The 20-year-old me has experienced a lot of things which includes 65% mental and emotional breakdowns due to stress in school, 15% physical breakdown and 20% happiness. What a year right?

65% emotional and mental breakdown.
Yes. This year has been the most stressful year yet. I actually expected it since last school year but I just did not expect it to be this stressful. School has been the #1 cause of this. I will not break this down in a detailed manner and just say "school" as a whole. For the first time in my life, I encountered a professor who just says "Alam niyo na yan, ganyan lang yan". He would just show us a power point and reads whatever is in that the powerpoint. Read without thoroughly explaining what's in there. Yes I know I should expect that in college but he is very different. He will give a final period quiz with a prelim period questions only. This year also we had our first ever thesis/company study which constitutes the most of my stress. My parents can attest to this. I would always ask them to call me because I need to release all the stresses I have. Whenever they call I would break down and cry just to relieve myself from the bad feelings that I feel and think. I do believe that I have neglected my other classes/subjects because of this thesis. I actually feel bad because whenever I cry to my mom and dad, they cry as well worrying about me. (But I'm okay now parents!) There are a lot of things pa that stresses me out in school but I just won't go deeper nalang din.

15% physical breakdown
Because of my stress in school I've been in and out of the emergency room. I think I was sent there 2-3 times this year. I had chest pains and was even given a 6-month medicine maintenance due to hyperacidity. I usually forget to eat on time because of school works. School has broken me down emotionally, mentally and physically.

20% happiness
Of course, not everything that I've been through after turning 20 was a mess. I am just happy that I have an extremely solid support system. I have very supportive parents who support me with whatever I want to do. Parents who are always there whenever I needed them even if they are miles away from me. Parents who would suggest things and plans for me. Parents who kept telling me not to be afraid of the future because they will always be there for me naman no matter what. A brother who has been there whenever I am acting crazy and whenever I break down. A boyfriend who is just a call away whenever I feel stressed even if he himself is stressed with his school works too. A boyfriend who has been my constant morale booster. Relatives who would always reassure me that everything will be alright and that I should not be afraid because God is always with me. Relatives who will always help me and become second parents for me whenever I am feeling down. And most of all, I have a God who is the most powerful of all. A God who never leaves me and blesses me with this people. Without him, I do not even know what to do with myself anymore.

What a long intro right? Well here's the 21 things I learned in life before turning 21.

1. You are the captain of your ship.
Your life, your commands. Do not let others dictate what you will do with your life. Ask for advice but you will always have the final say.

2. All work no play makes "Juan" a dull boy. 
I learned this since grade school and has kept reminding myself this one ever since but this year has been an exception which was why I probably felt this way. The reason why almost 80% of my year has been a breakdown. Work and life balance should always be done,

3. Always have time for yourself.
Its okay to be selfish sometimes. Take care of yourself. Your brain may tell you that you can do a certain job even if your body cannot. That's what I've felt this year. I've been pushing myself to the limit which is why my body started to be weak. I lost a lot of weight because of too much stress and even lost too much time for myself. This has to stop, I know and I will do whatever it takes to restore myself back.

4. Learn to say NO
Its okay to be selfish at times because if not, a lot of people will take advantage of you. There will always be people who will only be there whenever they need you and hide from you if you're the one in need.

5. Overthinking kills
This one, I'm still working on this. Not sure when I will stop overthinking but I hope sooner cause this will really kill me. Overthinking has been and is still a posion that runs inside by head. Any antidote for this?

6. Life is not a race.
Yup, this one is the realest of all. I have classmates in high school who are now degree holders (congratulations guys!), OFWs, while some are like me still a college student. Before I was too afraid of being labeled as a "delayed" college student but then, I realized, why would I be afraid? There's nothing wrong with being delayed. There's nothing wrong with finishing college longer than others, what matters most is that you finish with a degree. Everyone has a different clock. Wait for your time.


7. Do not be afraid of the future.
My mom has repeated this line for over a thousand times this year because I have been constantly ranting about how I think about what's gonna happen to my future. She would always remind me to let everything fall to their places and that I should just do my best and let God do the rest. Que serra serra~ My dad would always tell me that I'm still young and that there are a lot of things that will happen in the future, things that are worst than what I'm experiencing now that's why I should not be afraid because they will always be there whenever I need a backup. (I have my own set of Avengers as my support system right?)

8. Choose your friends wisely.
This is a given and I am very lucky to have chosen the right friends. Friends who I know will always be there and understand me even if we do not talk often.

9. Choose quality of quantity.
This has been my mantra ever since. I do not care if I only have few friends as long as I know na they are the type who offers friendship that lasts forever. I also do not care if my friends and I see each other once a year only for as long as the quality of the memories we share for that one day is -what millenials call "Lit af!".

10. It's not about the name of the school, it's about how your instructors teach and how you apply what they teach.
In high school, we were told to go to big schools because you will be more successful, get a brighter future and find jobs easier. Yes, they are partly true but not really true. (You get me? haha!) I know a lot of people who are not graduates of big schools but are working to the companies of their dreams. I know people from big schools who are still unemployed. I heard from people in companies that the ones who perform better are the ones who graduated from a non-famous school in the country. Spending 3 years in college made me realize na its not about the name of the school but it's about how your instructors imparted the knowledge that you will need and how you will apply what you learn in the workplace. No one can quantify your success but you.

11.  There will always be people who will not understand your decisions. 
But you do not have to explain yourself to them especially if they are not family. You do not owe everyone an explanation for your decisions. Go back to number 1 for reference ;) As long as you're happy, you do not negatively affect anyone with that decision then do it by all means!

12. Chase your dreams 
Go do whatever you want to do with your life as long as you know that you will be at peace and you will be better with that. Do not let yourself be stucked to doing things you don't like and not happy about. Life is too short, live  your life with happiness and peace.

13. Love yourself always because no one will do that for you.
No explanations needed. 

14. Always choose what makes you happy.
"Life is hard enough to be unfair to yourself. Burn the bridge and learn to swim." - M.A. Buendia

15. Make choices, the choices you want for yourself.
Why? See number 1 for reference! ;D People may not agree with your choices but that's life. Take risks and back up those risks that you take with your 100%. "Life's journey is not to arrive at your gravesite safely  but rather to skid in sideways completely  worn out and say 'Holy shit! That was a ride!'"- Prianka Chopra

16. Its okay to not know what you want to be when you grow up.
A friend told me that majority of the people will only know what they want to become after reaching the age of 24. So do not be scared! I know what I want to do in the future and I just knew that after turning 19. 

17. Do not compare
Never ever compare yourself with others. Everyone is different. Once you start comparing your life, you start failing at life.

18. Age is just a number
Age does not define what you can do or what you're allowed to do (unless you're a minor). Its okay if you're 25 and still in college as long as you finish it, a degree is still a degree and it doesn't matter what age you received that degree. Not married at 35? Who cares? As long as you're happy then stay single and build your own empire for your future family!

19. Life is too short for worries
If worries costs you your peace, then it is expensive. Leave it. 

20. Awards & recognition does not measure your intelligence.
It doesn't matter if you are the first honor in your batch or if you received hundreds of awards in school. If you don't know how to live a happy and peaceful life, they are useless. These awards are nothing if you do not have the right attitude in life- attitudes that will bring you to places. If you do not know how to adapt to your environment or to a certain situation, you will fail in life.

21. I would choose calm and wise mind over an academically smart mind.
I do not want to be called an A- student in class if I will not have a peace of mind- a mind that is away from school pressures. Its okay if I'm labeled as a not so smart student as long as I am at peace. I'm too tired of hearing people's high expectations of me. I get extremely pressured whenever I know that there are people who expect something high from me. I'm tired, both my brain and my body is tired from all the pressures the people in school has put on me. 

May 12, 1997- Monday | 5:47 PM, St. Luke's Medical Center
- the date, the day, the time and the place where I was born. I was born to be happy. God is probably disappointed that I wasted 1 year of my life full of stresses and breakdowns. But I did not regret anything. My 20- year- old self will be my teacher in life. I learned a lot this year and I hope that my 21st year in this world will be different. 

I will completely revamp myself. A new version of me, a stronger, a fighter and a more determine self will be seen. Of course there will always be challenges but this time, I will not let the challenges bring me down. Why? I have an Avengers of a family, strong support system from my friends and God. What else will I fear?

Jeremiah 29:11
Philippians 4:13

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