As my 28th birthday is coming up this weekend, I have been contemplating what has changed in my life since I was 20. I say 20 because this was the time I was fully independent and living on my own for the first time.
To tell you a little bit about those years, I moved out of the nest at 20 to Toronto to be able to attend college and also experience what the city has to offer. I know that may not sound young, but for someone who has never lived on her own, this was a big step. At the same time, being a new immigrant from the Philippines, where my life was sheltered and basically planned out was ready to experience life as an independent adult.
Boy, was I naive in thinking this would be easy! Although I had a job lined up when I moved out, it was a part time job that did not pay much. I lived with my roommate in a 1 bedroom century home in order to save money. However hard it was, I was happy to have our own little space that we worked hard to decorate and make our own. We had very little furniture and most of the time my groceries consisted of whatever was on sale in the grocery store. My meals consisted a lot of instant noodles and dollar microwavables. There were days I didn't have any money for transit to get to school until my next pay check, but that was mainly due to poor decision making/money management as I would always buy clothing first before anything else. My image was always very important to me. Attending Fashion school was hard to say the least, these girls were just like the ones you saw in Mean Girls. There were the artsy types, the blonde and skinny high fashion types and the punk alternative types. At that time I was also struggling with self-esteem issues; for whenever I looked at these girls, I often realized that there was always somebody skinnier with better fashion sense. You wouldn't know any of this deep down as part of my confession as I subscribed to the mantra “fake it till you make it”. I also had a lot of body issues and was never comfortable in my own skin. I was about 115 lbs and a size 2, which I thought at that time I still needed to lose weight to be the elusive size 0 in order to have abs like Britney Spears ( lol 90's kid at heart) .Looking back, I wish I could tell my younger self to be happy and confident in my own skin regardless of the number on the scale.
Like any other young adult, I was also very impatient and always wanted to grow up quickly. I decided I didn't want to go the university route because I wanted to be able to work immediately after graduating. So I decided on a less venturous course, Fashion Business- thinking it would be easier to complete. I ended up hating it because the classes weren’t anything of interest to me,s as much as I love fashion. I slowly realized that being in the industry did not resonate with me as a long term career path. . I tried my hardest to finish my courses but since my heart wasn't there, I eventually threw in the towel. For some time, I kept trying to return to school but was unable to find my niche and had difficulty realizing what I would be good at. Only last year have I decided it was time. Time to pursue a career in marketing where I genuinely enjoy the classes and it offers creativity and analytical ability under one roof.
Time has a funny way of slipping by without us knowing it. As much as I wish I was 20 again, there has also been a number of positive life lessons that come with ageing (gracefully:). For example, being comfortable in one’s own skin. I’m much more comfortable and confident in myself and my own choices. Even though I still have brief moments in life where I think I’m not the best version of myself I don't allow myself to dwell on those thoughts. I strive to be more patient and commit to longer term goals rather than fast fixes. I've also found my own voice and have become a more confident individual. Of course I realize that I still have a long way ahead and I'm hoping my 30's will be even better.
So if there are 20 something year olds out there reading this,please remember to be kind and patient with yourself because you are special and unique in your own way; as cliche as that sounds, I wish I listened when people told me so.