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Saturday, June 20, 2015

7 Life Lessons for 20 Somethings from a 20 Something

Punggol End by the sea-31 Punggol End 3 Punggol End by the sea-36 Punggol End by the sea-40 Punggol End by the sea-41I have always had a yearning for the sea, or any huge bodies of water for that matter. Perhaps because it's calming, it is limitless and a perfect embodiment of wanderlust. Feeling very much in my element in this print dress from Cynthia Vincent which matched the colors of the water perfectly. This year, just recently, I got diagnosed with a condition for my eye, shortly after which, I went on a 5 weeks long graduation trip, during which I turned 23 years old. That made me really reflect upon a lot of things in my life and whether I was spending time chasing after the right things.

So here's 7 Life Lessons I've learnt, which I hope will be helpful.

Punggol End by the sea-42 Punggol End 4Wearing Aqua Print Maxi Dress by Cynthia Vincent
Shot by Phoebe Chin

7 Life Lessons for 20 Somethings from a 20 Something

1. Take care of your body
It may sound like your mum nagging, but I've learnt this lesson the hard way. I got diagnosed with a condition in my left eye, which can be treated but only with surgical operation. It made me suddenly feel vulnerable. Sure, we are young, and we need to live in the present, but sleeping in the wee hours of morning and staring at screens all the time can really harm our health. And health is a funny thing. It's like when you have it, you take it completely for granted that you forget to be thankful that you're healthy. The moment you lose it, you lose everything else. So take care of yourself.

2. Create your own opportunities
I've learnt things the hard way since young - Nobody is going to help you unless you help yourself. So instead of always complaining that there are not enough opportunities, go out there and create opportunities for yourself. Reach out to people you admire, get yourself a mentor who can guide you in your career, just do it. I know that I've always wanted to be in the business side of fashion, probably in the fields of marketing, branding, social media management and content creation. And there's not enough opportunities in the limited Singapore market, but I'm going to try anyway - I'll apply overseas, I'll email people, I'll try to get myself out there. Because there is always no harm trying, and because people always appreciate effort.

3. Chase after the right things
We spend a lot of time on our mobile, but not really communicating with people or taking a step closer to our goal.
We sometimes let what other people - the society - think get to us and we chase after the things that are accepted as good and success. More money, a better car, branded bags... and in the process of that chase I think we sometimes lose sight of the things which really makes us happy.

So spend time chasing after the right things - things that make you feel good. Reach out to people and form genuine relationships. You wouldn't want to be regretting things when you're in your 30s and tied down by responsibilities which prevent you from accomplishing the things you wish to have accomplished when you were younger.

4. Spend money on experiences, instead of material goods
Saving up money and then spending a large part of them on my graduation trip is probably one of the best things I've done so far. I traveled to Greece (1 week), Turkey (2 weeks) then France (farmstay 2 weeks) and really exposed myself to local culture through some couchsurfing and submitted myself to nature with hikes on rock cliffs, mountains and around lakes. This is the thing that I'm going to remember when I'm 60 years old, probably not that new iPhone that I bought.

Experiences tend to bring us more happiness than material goods, as each time we recall those wonderful memories, the emotions will resurface. But for material goods, we will be happy for the first month we have it, and subsequently, we will crave for more or something different again.

5. Live life elegantly and simply
I spent two weeks in France on a farm up in the Midi-Pyrenees, meaning Mid-Pyrenees mountains. The area is in the extreme south of France which is near to the Spanish border. I arrived at the Toulouse airport alone, taking a train and then a bus to get to the farm's nearest town, all the time hoping that my host would be there to pick me up. Farm life taught me a lot; that will come in another blogpost, but the most important thing I took away was probably a way of life.

The people in the region and also on the farm practice a way of life very close to nature. They believe in good energy and the 5 elements, with some of them practicing energy of crystals and precious stones, an organic and vegetarian diet, and staying close to nature without disturbing its natural balance. My simple life at the farm was tiring yet fulfilling and it really put things in perspective for me - Some of the material things that we chase after in the city, and the complex emotions we hold against people, the worries and disputes all seemed kind of irrelevant and silly even, when we surrender ourselves to nature, notice and be thankful for the simple beautiful things in life, and pursue the goodness in people and everything around us.

I think the experience which I have had here will probably help to put things in perspective each time I get frustrated over something silly.

6. Take time to be alone
I feel like Asian culture doesn't really condone being alone; we always need to be together in our own little circle of friends. Who says one cannot dine alone, travel alone or watch a movie alone? Speaking of which, I have done all three before and it felt great to have some me time to reflect upon things. And it's self reflection that helps me to always be a better version of myself.

7. You are yourself, and that's OK
Sometimes I get frustrated at myself when I compare with others. My peers who go through the same course in uni, but whom graduates with a finance major is probably going to earn at least 2-3x more than me. But I know I'm not really intuitive when it comes to numbers, so I'll probably never be able to go into banking, trading or data analytics or logistics. I'll also probably never be as thin or as pretty as my idol, Kiko Mizuhara. I'll also never really like clubbing but instead prefer going interiors shopping, or grocery shopping even. I think it's important to stay true to yourself and tell yourself that it's OK if you like things that are not cool, or if you do things that stray from conventional measurements of success as defined by society. It's hard to come to terms with it, but I think as long as we have a passion, we work hard at perfecting it, we will be happy and good things will come.

I'll be graduating this November and starting a new chapter of my life soon, and I hope that these life lessons will guide me when I'm frustrated or lost, and also you in the process as well.

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