21 Things I Learned Before Turning 21


It was the end of a decade, but a start of an age. In light of 8 months before my 21st birthday, I got inspired by that girl in a red lip classic thing that I like to share 21 things I learned before turning two decades and one. These are some of the things I’ve essentially realized and have noted down whilst on the way home, in the middle of a class, or just whenever and wherever these thoughts come into my mind. Let’s get down to business and allow me to share twenty-one things I learned before I turn twenty-one. This 2020, fly with me to my roaring twenties.



ONEI’d rather waste money than waste time. When money is spent, it can be earned back. But when time is gone, it’s gone forever. Wasting time perpetually infuriates me. If I could only purchase time, or avail the wasted time of other people, then I definitely would. And I’d be able to do everything I need and want to. It’s so sad you can’t recycle wasted time.

TWOInvesting in expensive things isn’t being materialistic, it’s being quality-oriented. In  today’s very consumerist society, I’d rather invest on something expensive but will last, rather than buy something cheap over and over again. Come on, why don’t we choose sustainability? It’s almost 2020. Try computing the cost per wear of your clothes and shoes so you have an idea if they are really worth it. In addition, buying things in bulk saves you more money in the long run. Do the math before every purchase, it’s definitely worth the painstaking calculations.


If you won’t do it well, then don’t do it at all. Do things with passion, purpose, and love. Never do something just to pass the bare minimum.





Moisturizing is a must. Be it your skin, your hair, your lips, or even your personality. A good moisturizer is a good investment. Life is too short to be dry as fck. The moment my second year in college began, I started to invest in good facial moisturizers and eye creams to spare my face from all-nighters. Right now, I swear by Ponds Age Miracle as my eye cream and my fine lines have been visibly reduced. I wish I could unlock the fountain of youth.

FIVEEnjoy and trust the process. The first time I took Psychology, I had second thoughts about shifting or dropping out. But looking at it now, I am enjoying it so much and I can’t thank myself enough for staying. Sometimes, you have to look forward to the means, not just the ends. The journey may be long and tedious but the destination becomes more beautiful when you appreciate how you got there. And when you appreciate the people who help you get there.

It's about what you do with that dash between those two dates in your tombstone. (1)


Your loved ones’ happiness should also be your happiness. It takes a lot of maturity to be genuinely happy for the successes and joys of your loved ones. I feel with them when they go through something else, so when they feel really happy, I am also happy.



SEVENTraditional over digital. Printed photos, handwritten letters and poems, longhand diary entries, and printed books are so much better as compared to their digital counterparts. There is that hint of nostalgia or happiness elicited when you can physically browse pictures and jot down your thoughts using pen and paper. I have so much respect for the written word and I hope and pray that my writings will go see the light of day soon.

EIGHTBe a gracious host. Bring out the best plates, light up scented candles, cook the best food, bake the best goodies. Be a good host. Ever since the receiving area at home was built, I have this urge to invite my friends over and cook for them. It’s such an ‘adult’ thing to do and it’s very new and rare to me because I am an introvert. Nevertheless, I know this is something I can do this for the rest of my life.

NINEYour parents are the best friends you’ll ever haveI always assure that they will be the first ones (aside from my inner circle) to know if I am currently going through something. This is just one of the biggest realizations I’ve learned this year as I’ve opened up about my anxiety, my failures, and regrets to both my mom and dad. Your parents will always be the ones who will watch over you.

TENGo through it and grow through it. This is exactly how you learn. How do you even know the feeling of successfully surviving something scary without even going through it in the first place?


ELEVENAccept that sickness, deterioration, and death are part of life. These used to be my biggest fears. They still are, but I’ve learned how to accept them. When I was younger, I view death and sickness as life’s “abnormalities”. There’s just no room for them. I once believed that life is all about happiness and strength that I forgot that we’re all born to die. I’ve slowly accepted that these things really happen, and are bound to happen. We can never be truly safe. It’s about what you do in that dash between the two dates on your tombstone.

finalTWELVETake a little peek into the future. It can be imagining yourself on your graduation day, or visualizing your 25th birthday, or planning your parents’ silver wedding anniversary. It’s good to zoom out and see into the future and just simply think that good things are yet to happen. And it makes you leave everything in the past because what can we do over spilled milk, right?


THIRTEENSugar is the best spice. Ironic, I know. There’s just that sweet magic when you add a dash of sugar to everything you cook. No disrespect to salt and pepper, but I think I’ve found a better partner. Sugar is like the white t-shirt of the culinary world. It’s very universal and versatile and goes along well with any dish.

FOURTEENRecreating old photos or replying to your old posts or tweets is like talking to your old selfIt’s like a time capsule. “Hey, this is how far you’ve come. Your life is so much better than it was then, you already got what you are praying for.” It’s a gentle reminder of how much you’ve developed or how much your life has changed for better or for worse.


FIFTEENIt’s not about the glass being half full or half empty. It’s about filling it up again. It’s okay to have periods of sadness, brokenness, emptiness and the general feeling of being so lost in translation. It’s normal and it makes you human. Cry it all out. But always remember that bad days are not forever. You will always find your way to happiness. There’s always light at the end of the tunnel.

SIXTEENIf the day hasn’t ended yet, there’s still hope. I’ve learned not to dwell or waste my time and energy on bad things happening. As long as the day hasn’t ended yet, there can still be something good that might happen and eventually improve my mood. It’s wrong to punish yourself for something that isn’t entirely your fault.


SEVENTEENKeep your creative juices flowing by taking down notes. I always get ideas out of nowhere and I try to preserve these by jotting them down on my planner or my notes app. They’re usually about outfit ideas, random quotes or lessons, recipe ideas, event planning, blog post titles, and random things. Whenever I think of a good cake design, I draw them and note what ingredients I’m going to be using if I make them. Whenever I have ideas about menswear, I also draw them on my planner. I also write down my dreams the moment I wake up every morning and sometimes I interpret them on my own. This way I can document my ideas without trying to remember them because they’re all archived.



Yellow is such a beautiful color. It’s only now that I realized that I wear too much monochromatic colors that I underestimate other colors. Yellow is something that makes me feel happy and bright. It’s also a color that flatters my skin tone so that being said, I promise to wear more yellow.

NINETEENPerfumes are the best time capsules. Just like how listening to old music, it’s amazing how certain scents bring back a lot of memories. Whenever I smell Polo Sport by Ralph Lauren, I get transported back to those days when I was 11 feeling giddy for an upcoming flight. Same goes with Zara Seoul Sinsa eau de toilette, I get flashbacks from my last days in high school. Earlier this year, I chose Davidoff Silver Shadow Altitude and it instantly brings nostalgia from those days I  listen to thank u, next as I arrive one hour early for my 7 a.m. classes. It’s a good idea to change perfumes every year. “Oh this reminds me of 2010! Oh, this smells like 2018.” #nostalgic


TWENTYNever be afraid to be honest. And to speak about your insecurities, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities. If I were to mention some of the greatest things I’ve learned lately, it would be to live truthfully as possible, be straightforward about your choices, and be firm with your decisions. You do you. There will always be a friend who’s ready to listen to you and I’m lucky I have a lot of them. It’s definitely okay to ask for help. Sometimes we just need someone to talk to and that’s it. We just need to let it all out.



TWENTY ONETake the risk or lose the chance?  Turning Twenty has taught me to never bottle up your feelings and be so engulfed with your emotions. Let people know how you really feel about them, it’s actually a lot better than playing mind games. Honestly, you wouldn’t be afraid to risk something if you know you have nothing to lose. Would you rather know something and regret it forever and ever or never know it and forever wonder?

Written by: Andrei Paras (July – October 2019)

Shoot locations: Clark Marriott Hotel, Bonifacio Global City, Cafe Dia, Angeles University Foundation. 



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