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Monday, February 6, 2017 New York, NY

26 Things on my Birthday

Every birthday gives me the chance to look back on the past year, to really reflect on what I've learned, how I've grown, and how things have changed. Though my day-to-day doesn't change by much, I'm honestly really happy with where I am and what I've accomplished in the past year. When I turned 25 a year ago, I was set on my graduation day, finally finishing school and then figured I'd go into the Interior Design field shortly after. Now, at 26, a college graduate, my blog has taken off in ways I did not know were possible. It allowed me to travel, meet so many new people, work with dream brands of mine, and be able to call myself my own boss.

In this post, I'm getting a little more personal in sharing some things that I've learned and hope you'll find them helpful and insightful as you take on life fearlessly, as you pursue your passions, and as you chase your dreams. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your lives, for allowing me to share mine, because without you, none of this would be possible.

1. Know when it's time to leave. From past relationships with exes, even friends, it's important to understand when you're not being appreciated. No matter how badly you want to make it work, if you're not being treated with respect, if you're constantly being put down, if you're always made to feel guilty by that other person, it's time to go. Do not blame yourself for not being good enough to be treated better. You are not the problem, they have things they need to figure out for themselves.

2. It's okay if you don't want to party. To be honest, I'd much rather be at home catching up on my TV shows, in bed, in my pajamas by 7PM on a Friday night with my boyfriend. Don't feel pressured to go out and party just because you think it's what you're supposed to do in your twenties. If you like to bum it at home instead of a night at the club, that's perfectly okay.

3. Traveling is possible, you just need to know when to look, where to go, and how to save. Skip the weekly refills on your Starbucks card. Give yourself a manicure/pedicure. Book in advance, sign up for alerts, check travel sites often, etc. The price you pay for that festival you've already been to three years in a row, could also be a trip to Europe. Experiencing other countries and cultures makes you see the world differently, and in a much better way.

4. Don't feel bad about wanting to keep your circle of friends small. It's perfectly normal to have a small group of friends so don't feel pressured to go out with people if the vibe isn't all there for you. As I grew up, it mattered more to me the quality of my friendships than the quantity.

5. Treat yourself. Don't allow other people to make you feel bad for wanting to treat yourself. You and I both know you work hard, you're always thinking of other people, so it's okay to just think of yourself every now and then. Don't feel selfish or greedy for wanting to pamper yourself or be a little extra when you're shopping. Treat yourself. You've earned it.

6. Don't be afraid to speak up about the things that matter to you. No matter what the response may be, if it matters to you, don't let the fear of other people arguing with you, keep you quiet. Sometimes, our voices are all we have, and you'll be surprised who else will find the courage to speak up if you set that example.

7. Games are childish. If you like someone, own it, admit it, go for it. Waiting for them to text back is a waste of time. Waiting 2 hours to reply because they took 2 hours is a waste of time. If you're into this person, that time-stamp doesn't matter. If you want to message them first, do it. Double text? Do it. If you want to ask them out, do it. If you want to have coffee with them and discuss poetry or your favorite bands on a Wednesday morning, do it. If that person wants to play games, move one. You don't have time for that.

8. Long-lasting relationships take effort, and you don't build a solid foundation by quitting at the first sign of a disagreement. It takes a lot of patience to have a strong relationship. I've learned from being in love with the same boy for almost six years now, communication is important. Don't lose who you are just because of the person that you are with. As bad as fights can get, really pay attention and see if beneath fighting with you, they're also fighting for you. There's a difference between someone who just gets angry, and someone who is angry but is still trying to understand. The one who tries to understand is worth your time, forgiveness, and patience. That's the person you can make it work with.

9. Don't forget about your family and friends, the people that constantly support you. We can often get so caught up with our lives that we'll forget to text our friends and see how they're doing, or forgetting to say goodbye to your parents as you walk out the door. Recognize that you are the person you are today because of the people that have been there for you through your lowest points, and celebrate you at your highest too.

10. Take time to yourself. If you just need space or to be alone, do it. It's not shutting down. It's not giving up. It's giving yourself the chance to sort things out and figure out what's the best thing for you to do. You're not being selfish, you know how you want to cope with things. It's good to be alone every once in a while. I find that when it's the quietest, that's when the answers to all my questions are the loudest.

11. Forgive that person that owes you an apology, but never gave it to you. Life is way too short to hold on to grudges. You may not have ever gotten that apology, but forgive them anyways. Face it, if you haven't gotten it by now, you probably never will. Forgive them and move on from it. You'll find yourself in a much better headspace once you let go of the bad feelings that you've been holding on to.

12. Pursue the career where you get to do what you love. I graduated with a degree in something that I'm not currently pursuing. I switched majors 3 times. It's okay to be unsure of what you want to do, but when you figure it out, just go with it. There are too many work days in a week for you to wake up not looking forward to your job.

13. Handle negativity, pettiness, and hate with class. You can't please everyone, but what someone says to you with a hateful tone says nothing about you, but everything about them. Hold your head up high, ignore them, and pay attention to those that send positive vibes your way. If someone is hating on you for no reason, you must be doing something right. If someone is trying to bring you down, it's because you're already above them. If someone is talking behind your back, it's because they're behind you. Look forward and don't let negativity stop you.

14. It's okay if you're not a size 2. It's taken a while for me to be comfortable with my body. I'm not someone who can eat whatever they want and be okay. I don't have the fast metabolism that I used to when I was a kid. I fluctuate and that's okay, but I've stopped concerning myself with numbers such as counting calories or constantly checking my weight on the scale. The best way to measure yourself is to look in the mirror and to like what you see.

15. Learn to laugh at yourself. You should never take anything too seriously, and if you mess up, it's okay. You have to be able to poke fun at yourself every now and then, because if not, you're going to constantly overthink everything. No one is perfect, so don't put that pressure on yourself. It takes the fun out of life.

16. Skincare is very important. Take care of it. Wash your make-up off, moisturize, clean your pores, etc. If you can treat yourself to a new lipstick every week in the same shade family, you can get some skincare products that will make your skin glow and have you looking young for many more years to come.

17. Be smart about your money. You won't be living at home forever. Learn to save most of your paycheck and spend below your means. It's okay to treat yourself, but don't go maxing out every credit card you get pre-approved with. Do not rely on others to help you out of a bind, try to prepare yourself in case of emergencies.

18. Stay humble, stay hungry. Don't ever get too comfortable. Never forget how you started or where you started, and continue to take on life with the same drive and passion as you did in the beginning. The second you get too cocky, you could be done. The second you get complacent, someone else who is starving for the same opportunities could take it away from you.

19. Find out about your family history. Growing up in the Philippines, I've always had a close connection to the Filipino culture and I've always been proud to call myself a Filipino. Learning about your family's history can help you have a deeper appreciation for the life you live, a better understanding of your people, and it really opens your eyes to the kind of history that lies within a family. I loved learning about what my grandparents did, how my parents grew up, it helped me really appreciate all the things that they did for me to have a better life.

20. Learn when to admit you're wrong. Swallow that pride. You could be amazing at arguing, but it's not worth ruining a friendship or relationship just because you can't admit when you're the one at fault. People make mistakes and we can learn from it, but you need to be able to apologize when the time calls for it.

21. You cannot control the way other people are. The way another person talks or acts is beyond your control, but what you can control is how you react to them. If things are just off, feel free to walk away from that kind of situation. You can't force someone to handle something the way that you would, so learn to understand that some people just are the way that they are. How you love someone, may not be the way they show love back to you. How someone handles a disagreement, may not be the way that you handle it. Don't rush or pressure someone into doing something before they are ready, don't force them to think the way that you do. Listen, try to understand, then go from there.

22. Let someone love you at their own pace, in their own way. You could be into the big romantic gestures. You could be into something a little bit more low-key. Learn to see the way other people show their love, maybe it's through attention, maybe it's through touch, maybe it's through just talking to you and knowing you're there. The biggest issue in relationships is miscommunication. If you learn how the other person shows their love and appreciation for you, it'll make things a lot less confusing.

23. Don't lie to your friends. If you can't be honest with your friends, are they even really your friends? Honesty is such a big deal in relationships, and trust is something that I don't give to people easily. Once you lose my trust, it's going to be hard to get it back.

24. Be mindful of your health. We are not invincible, so be sure you're taking care of your body, see the doctor if you have to, go for your dental cleaning, etc. We often take these things for granted but being healthy is a blessing so don't forget to take care of yourself.

25. Real Friends vs. Fake Friends. You learn that the people who stick by you through your most difficult times are the ones that are there for you. Be careful who decides to want to be a part of your life when things are good, and take notice of those that are nowhere to be found when times get hard. Another thing to remember that is so important: True friends will always be happy and proud of your successes. They will never make you feel guilty or put you down for being accomplished.

26. Love Yourself. Have high expectations and don't settle for any less. Know what you deserve, know what you want, and go for it. I have spent many years putting myself down because I was too concerned about other people, I allowed others to make me feel guilty for pursuing something different, and it took me years to be comfortable with who I am, leave my shyness behind, and it's only when I started loving myself that everything else came together. My friends, family, boyfriend, career, etc. Love yourself. Love the person that you are, be your number one fan, your best supporter, treat yourself better than anyone else can.

Wearing: Ahlem Sunglasses | Aritzia SweaterThrifted Faux Jacket | Girlfriend Collective Leggings
Captured by: Marco P.

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