24 Things I Learned Before Turning 24

Dear reader, I can’t help but feel a sense of nostalgia for the days of my youth, and yet an excitement for all that is still ahead of me. It’s easy to feel like time is slipping through my fingers. One day we’re teenagers wanting to quickly grow up, and the next we’re well into our twenties wondering where the time has gone, and mostly wondering where to head next. It’s a strange feeling, but it’s one that many of us can relate to.

Part of me feels like I’m still 16, while another part feels like I’m already 24 going on 42. I feel old at 24, but at the same time, I still feel young because I am just 24. In this post, let me speak now the 24 things I learned before turning 24.

“We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.” I’ve recently came across FilAm Youtuber Jedcal. In one of his vlogs, he mentioned this quote by author Jim Rohn and I’ve been thinking of it since then—so much so that I decided to put it on top of this list. Often times, it’s the pain of regret that I feel on a spiritual level. But as I’ve gotten a lot more mature, I’ve realized how I’d rather endure the pain and process of going through something that would benefit me more later on. Going to the gym⎯for the first time ever⎯was painful. But it was the kind of pain that taught me how good things take time, take tremendous effort, and a ton of discipline.

Freshly cracked black pepper. Two words: God tier. Store bought ground black pepper tastes nothing like its freshly ground version. If you want to add a kick to your dishes, marinades, steaks, and fish, cracked is the key. Plus the aroma is *chef’s kiss*. 🤌🏻🤌🏻🤌🏻

Sometimes, we need to be de-influenced. In the modules I have been teaching, the concept of Diderot Effect has struck me in ways I never thought it would. The Diderot Effect basically states “that obtaining a new possession often creates a spiral of consumption which leads you to acquire more new things.” Sometimes, I need to remind myself that I am not compelled to buy the same wide leg pants in four colors or buy the same bag in all available shades and textures. I’m taking my time…but the bag looks so good. 😭🥲

You will outgrow people. Some friendships are either meant to last for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. It’s completely okay to outgrow people. Forcing things to happen would only lead to further disappointment. Just go and move on; but be thankful for the memories and wish them well.

Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” This adage hits different when you’re a lot older. I used to despise waking up early because it’s tantamount to a lot of school work. But now that I’m about to enter my mid-twenties, I’ve loved going to bed early and waking up early. Pro tip: minimizing lights and screen exposure 2 hours before sleep helps a lot. And yes, ZzzQuil is 👌🏻. I’ve been dreaming since I’ve gotten good quality sleep. I won’t trade good sleep for anything, which leads us to…

my obsession with crisp white bed sheets. Ever since I’ve moved into and renovated my new room three years ago, I’ve found how the quality of sleep I get is also affected by the bedding I use. I’ve become so particular with how I like my sheets⎯minimum 300 thread count, white, king sized, complete with a duvet and a duvet cover. I can’t recall how many times I bought bedding last year. Invest in sleep. It’s a luxury.

I am aging. Part of turning 24 is having to accept the fact that my hairline is slowly receding, my face grows rounder, and that I’m starting to develop fine lines. I’ve always wanted to look young for my age that’s why as early as now, I am doing everything to not let the physical signs show up. I go to the gym, I avoid junk food, I don’t drink alcohol, and I religiously apply sunscreen. Why? I want to age like fine wine. I want to look like I’m in my 20s in my 40s.

I actually enjoy teaching. I feel like I am putting my knowledge into good use, and that I can still remember the things I’m teaching since they’re mostly what we studied and some I’ve shared in this blog. And now that the tables have turned, it’s my time to impart them to my students. It may not be a financially rewarding profession, but I am motivated because I feel like I am making up for the time I lost due to the pandemic. Crazy to think how I left university as a second year college student on a random Tuesday in March 2020 and three years later, I’d return as an instructor. Whew. And yes, dressing up for this job is equally motivating. You know me. 🤫

Tailored clothing. Over the years, I’ve found how it’s important to get your clothes tailored so they fit like a glove. Growing up tall, it was difficult trying to find pants that would fit me. I either get the right waist line, but the pants are too short. I may get the right length, but the waist is too wide, then it looks flimsy when I get them adjusted. So what better way to get the right fit than to design, buy fabric, and get custom made pants. I’ve tried designing clothes earlier this year and I’ve worn them a couple of times. I can’t wait for my clothing project designs to come into fruition.

Greek yogurt. Not much has to be said. I just love greek yogurt with granola and fruits.

Never ever comment on someone’s weight, skin texture, or physical appearance after not seeing them for a while. When someone points out your insecurities, you can only do three things: One, accept your flaws and move on. Two, hate yourself and never see them again and wallow in your insecurities. Three, do something. I chose the latter. I chose to do something. Being called fat during a day I am supposed to enjoy and almost developing disordered eating habits was awful. It took me quite a while to feel better.

Feeling lost after graduating is absolutely normal. When Sir Roger, our program chair, asked me how I was doing before he offered me teaching units, I remember telling him that I feel so lost. Casting my mind back to my graduation dinner, my dad also asked me what am I going to do next. To which I answered, “I don’t know, probably continue the business…?” But deep down, I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO (!!!!!!!!). There’s that lingering and terrifying feeling of uncertainty after finishing school because you’re literally on your own now. And you want to take your time to soak it all in, but the people around you keep on asking about how you see yourself in the coming years. I mean, I can’t assume that I have all the time in the world, but I don’t need to have it all figured out at the moment. I am just starting. I can take my time. Life is not a race.

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. This is a remnant of my 21 lessons four years ago, and surprisingly, it became a Taylor Swift lyric. I literally Masterminded this. It still makes sense.

You need to be humbled at times. I’ve mentioned that I have started going to the gym this year. While it was rewarding that I lost weight and gained strength, trying out something new⎯and something I used to despise⎯is such a humbling experience. Sometimes, you think you know everything, but one moment, it just hits you that you actually know nothing. Allow yourself to be a beginner and never be ashamed of being one. The moment I stepped into the gym, I knew I was in for a learning experience. I can’t recall how many times I’ve been called out by the coaches for doing a workout in a wrong form, that I am working out too much, that I should still eat, and that I don’t have to punish myself. I mean, it’s embarrassing, but that’s how I learned.

I have to accept that I may inevitably become just like my parents. I know it’s a cultural thing to pass on knowledge, personal values, and beliefs. While I appreciate that these may be inherited, I am not marked safe from also acquiring their prejudices, biases, and preconceived notions. I am trying my best to unlearn their unproductive thought patterns and defense mechanisms. On the physical aspect, I also know that my parents will inevitably pass down their predispositions to certain illnesses like kidney problems, hypertension, and diabetes. I’m afraid I might end up the same way, that’s why all I am doing right now is to control and change my lifestyle. And prevent these from manifesting in my body when the time comes. I don’t want to end up like them when I get older. Again, I’d rather endure the pain of discipline than the pain of regret.

Which brings us to me realizing how much of a control freak I am. When things get out of my control, I freak out. Part of being conscientious⎯my most dominant NEO Personality Inventory factor⎯is being so obsessed with control, organization, punctuality, routine, and work. Sometimes, I have to remind myself that there’s no point in stressing over things I am not capable of controlling. That I should let things be in their natural flow and sometimes take it slow. Breathe in, breathe through, breathe deep, breathe out.

Literally nobody cares. The spotlight effect phenomenon is real. We think that everyone watches us, notices all our flaws and shortcomings when in fact, people really don’t care. No one notices that pimple. Nobody cares whether you’re wearing a $500 shoe or a dupe. Nobody watches you work out. Nobody cares whether you’re having a bad hair day. If they do stare, they’ll probably forget about it. Literally nobody cares, so do what you want. Wear what you want. People will stare, make it worth their while. Life is too short to think of what others might say. 🤷🏻‍♂️

Dutch ovens are the bomb. – Slow cooked food tastes so much better than food cooked quickly in pressure cookers. The meat gets so tender when cooked slow and in low heat, the flavors are also more intense, and the overall dining experience changes. Life hack: try to brown the meat first before cooking stews and soups. The maillard reaction makes a big big big difference. 💣💣💣

I’ve found how Pinterest, Youtube, and Instagram are the healthiest social media apps for me. – No toxic relatives. Less fake news. Less hate comments or no comments at all. Everything is just pure creativity when you’re in the right side of social media. Ideas. Recipes. Fashion inspirations. Workouts. Table setting ideas.

Unfollow your triggers. Whether it’s that brand you love but excellently makes you spend beyond your means, whether it’s that annoying pro-Trump and M*rcos Apologist relative, whether it’s that toxic influencer who keeps on spewing hate, it’s okay to block. Unfriend. Unfollow. Mute.

Clear space = clear mind. – Over the past three years, I’ve decluttered the whole house. It feels freeing to eliminate and donate stuff especially when your family is mostly composed of chronic hoarders and impulsive shoppers (myself included 🙋🏻‍♂️). I make sure that when I decide to buy something, I also have to let go of something else. This way, I can detach myself from the cycle of overconsumption. It’s good for my mental health when spaces are clean and clear.

Use absence to increase respect and honor. In the book 48 Laws of Power, Law 16 struck me most. People take you for granted when you appear too often and appear too common. Over the years, I’ve learned which events to skip, when to walk away, and when to actually show up. Being constantly present can lead to people losing interest and respect, but withdrawing at the right time can renew appreciation and enhance status. When something is scarce, it has high value.

Listen to your body. Since the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve become wary of my bodily sensations. My anxious ass panics when I feel a slightest hint of a cold, sore throat, and fever. Because of the fear and stigma the pandemic entailed, my brain would automatically interpret any flu-like symptom as COVID. Due to this, I want to stock up on antigen tests in fear of contracting the virus; or in hopes of ruling it out whenever I feel symptoms. I’m amazed by how our bodies try to communicate with us. I just can’t explain it, but I know if something is wrong and if I am about to get sick. I’ve become very keen on the early warning signs.

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. We’re so caught up with finding success and happiness that we forget that the things that really matter are already present with and in us. Take a break. Appreciate the people around you. Make core memories. Often times, we forget that the best people, and things, in life are free.

Initial Draft: February 2023

Published: May 2023

Photos: Air Pocket Creatives

Shoot Location: Angeles University Foundation

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