27 Things I’ve Learned As I turn 27

The first quarter of 2020 felt like whirlwind and as we’re all entering in the last month of the second quarter, I also realize that at this point, I’m about to enter another year around the sun at 27. While it’s the most dreaded number of your twenties thanks to the 27 Club, I have to accept that this is the reality that I’m about to walk in. Not only do I feel that this is where I have to face crucial decisions in my life due to the return of Saturn, I am at a point where I have never felt more comforted with working on building my sense of self worth and bettering myself.

Inspired by Taylor Swift’s “30 Things” for Elle, here are the top 27 things I’ve learned:

  1. You are uniquely you. Your life is filled with fun adventures, phases and discovering parts of yourself every year whenever you’re out with your family or friends. Having a multitude of tailored interests has made me embrace all sides of myself; however, I have come to realize that I don’t have to filter one side of myself to accommodate everyone. By unfiltering my interests and personality, it has made me come to terms with reconciling all parts of myself without having to apologize for who I am or think about having to fit myself into a certain box. Since we’re constantly evolving what we like/dislike or changing aspects of ourselves for the better, it’s totally A-OK to reinvent as you are a uniquely beautiful multifaceted soul.
  2. Friendship is a partnership. Who I invite in my life is something that I deeply value. Like a relationship, no friendship is perfect. It’s either a rollercoaster or a smooth long road trip. I’ve learned that in friendship, I have zero control over the circumstances that happen in my friend’s life. The same goes with mine, too. Over the years, what I’ve learned to value is being vulnerable, being attentive to the positives/negatives in their life and building transparent communication. I also learned to adapt to the changes that occur in our lives as change is inevitable.
  3. True friends keep your ego in check. I have to admit that I am the type of person who is proud of myself. Pride is a characteristic that I wear strongly on my sleeve. I am also highly opinionated and I struggle with working on expressing my opinions without a filter. For the friends who are in my life, what I love about them is that they keep my ego in check. If you accidentally say something wrong or do something that unintentionally makes him/her uncomfortable, a true friend will go out of his/her way to call you out when you’re wrong right away or after they process what’s been going on. If someone has been uncomfortable by your accidental social mishaps and doesn’t speak up on keeping you accountable for your mistakes, then you wonder what they really think about you behind your back.
  4. The best apologies are done via actions. My sister told me that when someone apologizes, it doesn’t always have to be verbal as what comes out from someone’s mouth or keyboard isn’t always sincere. For instance, when someone in your life has hurt you, but doesn’t have the words to say it/struggles to know what to say and wants to meet up with you to make amends, the gesture in itself is already an apology as it’s already offering you to give him a second chance. (This came from personal experience and that was honestly the most life-changing lesson/encounter for me as I was always used to verbal apologies.)
  5. Not every friend will stay in your life forever and it’s OK to take a break from the friendship or restructure your relationship. I am the type of person that loves having friends in my life and while this sounds so atypical for someone who has Asperger’s and ADD, I am an extrovert by nature. I feel energized by the presence of people. But when it comes to making friends, I realize that some of them are meant to stay behind in a phase for good reasons. However, there are some people whom I’ve developed positive relations with and due to circumstances (e.g. moving to a different country, taking up a demanding job or spending more time with new friends), those are things that I can’t control. Either losing or lessening contact becomes the result and that’s not something to take personally as it’s all about the circumstances. However, what I realize out of this is that if I see that there is a potential in still keeping the friendship, I realign the relationship for professional purposes as I never know who will be able to help me in the future. But if I feel like I see a deep personal friendship in the future, I usually get in touch again after a break as I feel that both of us need to sort out our circumstances before reconnecting. I’m a believer in second chances and to be honest, a few of my friendships that I have now are from building a stronger connection after reconnecting.
  6. Detoxing from toxic people is the best medicine. This sounds harsh, but sometimes, when you feel like you believe in the best too much, you get easily blinded by someone’s red flags and sadly, those types of people we invite in our life are more damaging to us than we’d like to believe. Having to Marie Kondo your friend group is the hardest, but it’s always for the best for your mental health when you feel the urge to cut off someone. Same goes with your ex. What I’ve learned about toxic people is that they will manipulate you, refuse to hold themselves accountable, badmouth, tell you how they start drama with their own friends, reveal how they really feel about you in an unflattering way when you tell them that you’re leaving them, gaslight, call other people or you toxic, act self-righteous, become hypercritical, refuse to listen to/understand you, break boundaries, have an unchecked ego and play victim. When you leave them, they want to be the first to dump you. They will guilt you into leaving them.(Which has happened to me a few times when I broke up with my toxic buddies.) If a toxic person wants to reconnect with you after cutting the cord, I hate to break it to you, but don’t fall for their tactic – expect what they will do as they are most likely going to repeat the cycle. Kindly reject the offer. Don’t ghost. (Done that and it worked!)
  7. Your body never lies. I am a very perceptive person and sometimes, I shut off my gut because I reason myself out of fear for being judgmental. However, what your body feels about someone or a situation concerning someone never lies. If my stomach sinks, shakes or feels tension up the wall, it’s a sign that a particular person is sending red flags or not what they seem. Ditto with my brain, too. What’s crazy is that your intuition is actually correct once facts roll out. (I second that as it’s been proven to me more than once.)
  8. Be an understanding human when your friend’s struggling with their dark days. Nowadays with the world in lockdown, social distancing and travel restrictions, it’s hard not to get attached to your phone to check for messages, e-mails, likes and/or who viewed your Insta Story. But even before corona, life didn’t exactly drastically change when it came to my relationship with my phone. But when it comes to my friends (who I dearly treasure and love to death!), I have zero control over their communication habits as that’s not my responsibility. However, when it comes to ghosting and sudden cancelled plans, those can get frustrating. It’s honestly an uphill battle for me as I am the type of person that LIKES to stay connected. But when a friend gets back after delaying to respond, it’s hard to gauge what they’re truly feeling behind the screen unless you ask what has been actually going on. If he/she tells you that they aren’t doing well (more than once), please take this as a sign because mental health is NO laughing matter. While ghosting is bad, it’s a common trait in those who have anxiety and depression. It’s a challenge to take on (for your end), but it will help you change for the better as you can learn to be more compassionate and empathetic. The bottom line is that while the intensity of it can take an emotional toll on your wellbeing, I don’t think anyone who has issues means to make you feel that way. You are not obligated to help 24/7, but being a great listener/reader can help you to observe the situation better. Also, I learned that I am not obligated to carry other people’s emotional labor. Most importantly, all I need to do is to simply encourage, but be respectful about it. At the end of the day, if the other person appreciates your help, it’s a sign. But if they don’t, then I guess you can determine where that goes…
  9. Not everyone will be able to understand you. In a friendship or relationship, what I always look for is someone who is willing to understand me. Whether I’ve disclosed my condition or not, I realize that not everyone will be able to understand what I say or who I am. I have to admit that when it comes to conversations, I have to explain things clearly. But if I feel like my message isn’t being explained properly, I follow up by text or ask “Do you get what I’m trying to say?” to clarify my statement as I sometimes struggle to articulate myself properly. When it comes to actions, I also realize that a well-meaning action on my end – e.g. asking to walk in a different direction from someone who’s coughing without covering at where you’re crossing or changing seats from someone who’s sneezing/coughing without covering their mouth in your direction – can be easily misconstrued as rude as I genuinely care about the wellbeing of myself and the person I’m hanging out with as I would never in my life want someone else to get sick while hanging out with me. I realize that when one or more actions/words from yourself are being misinterpreted by a “friend”, then this is not someone you want in your life as that kind of person is unwilling to change their attitude or opinion of you. He/she is also most likely not going to appreciate you.
  10. Extreme criticism isn’t healthy. Being hard on myself is one of the toughest things I have to unlearn and it’s honestly easier to hate myself than to love myself. Sometimes, I wish I never had to deal with my autism. But once I think about the positive aspects of myself, I feel like I’ve been learning to think less harshly of myself. Same with trying to find faults as that makes me feel like a shitty human.
  11. Raising boundaries is healthy. I have to admit that I struggle with building boundaries or voicing my discomforts out of fear of offending someone. However, my friends are more assertive than me at voicing their discomforts, critiques and boundaries. I realized that when they raised boundaries, it actually helped me become a better friend by building a stronger EQ. Nowadays, I’ve came to accept that it’s OK to put boundaries over pleasing people. If you aren’t comfortable with sharing something about yourself that is a sensitive topic, you are not obliged to share at all until you are ready to do so. I have made the mistake of sharing things out of obligation and that was what made other people take advantage of me emotionally. However, one of my dear friends has told me that when someone’s going through a tough time, giving him/her space is a loving act.
  12. Being sensitive is a strength, not a weakness. I am a highly sensitive person and my feelings get affected easily. I have encountered people who are equally sensitive as well. But, being sensitive has taught me to articulate myself better when it comes to asking hot-button questions or saying comments that have the potential to offend someone as I deeply care about how someone feels. A simple “No offense”* or “Sorry to ask” is all you need to say followed by your thoughts that what you said is out of curiosity or a general opinion/observation. (*If someone explodes over you saying “no offense”, it’s because he/she misunderstands what your intentions.)
  13. BE in touch with your emotions, but work on controlling them healthily. It’s ok to have negative feelings and acknowledge them. It’s ok to NOT be ok. Detaching 100 percent from your emotions isn’t the healthiest and to be honest, I have to admit that it was hard for me to do that as I struggle to balance my feelings out. Losing it on your parents or people isn’t the healthiest either. Ditto with having to cling to unhealthy habits such as I used to vape disposable e-cigs on-off, chain smoke hand rolled non-psychoactive organic herbal cigarettes (I only did it once for a few weeks) or bum a single cigarette once in a blue moon as I got moody and anxious very easily over studying, heartbreak, loneliness, people, (formerly) unresolved identity issues and having to adapt to a new country/environment.(Sorry Mom and Dad!) Those habits weren’t the healthiest, which I kept a secret for years, and I’m glad that I didn’t relapse to any of those things today*. Instead, I self reflect in an inner truth journal, read the Bible, pray and write in a diary to ease off my negative feelings**. Telling my closest friends and family about what affects me has been a great release, too. *If you’re struggling with substance abuse and need assistance with quitting, I highly recommend that you contact a counselor. But if you can moderate without assistance or go cold turkey like me, extra kudos to you! **Knock Knock makes the best ones out there like It’s Gonna Be Okay, which my dad bought for me.
  14. There’s no shame in seeking help. Since childhood, I’ve been having therapists by my side for two things: speech and behavior. I was constantly pulled out of class for an hour from grades one to eight to learn how to talk, build social skills and behave properly in social settings. I had an after school therapist from grades five to seven. I occasionally saw a counselor in high school, then started seeing a therapist when I was in college from freshman to junior year. Though there were moments when I didn’t want to seek help due to the shame of being vulnerable, being able to talk to an adult by my side truly helped me. If you have never seen a therapist in your life, it’s seriously the best life decision!
  15. Develop a routine. I am either someone who is anal about planning or I can let loose with my spontaneity as I like to go with the flow sometimes. Having a planner helps me keep my brain sane. Ideally, a dated planner is the best for me as that helps me to gauge what I want to achieve, projects I wanna start and what I can prioritize for the day. My sister bought me the Passion Planner for my Xmas present and it’s one of the best in the planet. Sugar Paper, a brand that my good friend introduced me to, is great if you like something fashionable, but organized.
  16. Your skin is your real estate. Taking care of my skin makes me feel proud of myself and it’s something I highly prioritize as it helps me from de-stressing whenever I get cooped up inside for too long. Your skin is a litmus test that tells you how you’re really feeling on the inside. If I am stressed, I’d break out in acne. Obviously, you do you when it comes to your skincare routine. But for me, I am the type of person that likes to keep the majority of my products clean. Check out my AM and PM skincare tutorial ICYMI. 😉
  17. Have fun with fashion! Who says that you have to ditch crop tops after you’re 25? Even though I’m closer to 30 than 20, I have to admit that I am not obligated to conform to define how an adult should dress as I firmly believe that I have the freedom to do so. You like tinted sunglasses? Go for it! You like unconventional bag silhouettes or platform sneakers? Get that credit card! Trapped between a basic white tee or a vintage argyle Vivienne Westwood tee that Lizzie McGuire wore? Obviously, I’d go for the Vivienne Westwood top if I were you. Taking advantage of the newest trends has been a great way for me to expand my mind and discover what flatters my body/personality. After all, your closet *is* a conversation piece. If you are a guy, you also deserve to treat yourself to some fun statement pieces, too. Ditto with trying out new haircuts or makeup products, TBH.
  18. Your friends influence you. This can be taken positively or negatively; however, with myself, it’s more positive than negative. Having good influences in my life will ultimately influence me to BE better. If you feel like you become whom you don’t like or feel like you haven’t been investing in healthy relationships, it’s time to put your company right where they belong: THE TRASH.
  19. You are bound to pick up new hobbies/reconcile with a hobby that you tried out. I love getting creative. I enjoy being a creative. But when it comes to creative endeavors, the two things that have stuck by my side since young were sewing and writing. I’ve happily embraced those hobbies as they’ve sparked joy. Another hobby I’ve picked up along the way is photography and that habit sparked from a really good close friend who pulled out a Lomo during brunch. Though I was three years too late, I picked up a non-Polaroid film camera because film was something I needed to take up less space on my cloud. In terms with reconciling with a hobby, mine was sewing as I dropped it during college and I didn’t pick it up again after I moved back home. If you’re stuck in a rut and you need to get creative, I highly recommend reconciling with a hobby that you fell in love with a few years ago or from your childhood.
  20. Adapt from failure and admit defeat. I hate failing and it’s a stinker on my ego. But, it has humbled me a TON. In terms of failure, I have had setbacks with starting Soeng Signature and that has forced me to reassess what I needed to do/improve. Taking a pause from it has also helped me to focus on other things before I came back to it and/or adapt to other avenues. But, that has never led me to give up! Failure has also led me to open the door on other opportunities that I didn’t consider before and inspired me to open up my mind.
  21. Don’t be afraid of change. Change was one of the things I feared most, but I realize that it’s something I have to adapt to as I cannot fight it. One of my dear friends from college that I’m still close to to this day has told me that your 20s is where you change. (I totally agree!) Embracing uncertainties that come with change has helped me to erase fear. I firmly believe that the less you worry about the negative outcomes with change, the better it is for you as you deserve to treat yourself well and break away from the things that hold you back (e.g. draining job, bad friends, toxic partner, dangerous habits, etc.). I recommend that you work on tackling one issue at a time before you can call yourself an evolved person.
  22. Spirituality is sexy. Growing up, I was raised Christian since I was eight. My relationship with God was on/off as I wasn’t really the most religious kid. I flirted with atheism for a bit (in middle school), but decided to stick with church as it was the thing for most kids to attend every Sunday. I attended church continuously in my teens to mid 20s but, I became curious about astrology, read articles on palm reading for fun and briefly flirted with Tarot. However, the one thing that never wavered from me was my deep-seated passion for prayer. Praying has always kept me anchored. In addition to praying, I’ve done Bible Study courses (at the encouragement of my family) and decided to have a prayer journal (the same Knock Knock book I listed here) to jot down what I want to say to God. With a stronger sense of faith, I’ve decided to stick with what works with me. While you do you on what you choose to believe, I feel that getting in touch with your spiritual side can help you discover your strengths and weaknesses. If you plan to change your belief system or reconcile with a religion that you deserted from in your teen years, perhaps it’s not too late to open that door. Ask a friend, family member or spiritual leader to educate you. Just don’t join a cult!
  23. Use your values as your filter. Before, I didn’t really prioritize my values when it came to finding friends or a boyfriend. Nowadays, I am at a point where my values are my filtration system on who I want vs. who I don’t want to keep. Whenever I bring up my values and I can have a safe, honest and open conversation without judgment, then the friend/potential boyfriend in mind is someone I can keep. But if someone disrespects or appropriates my values (e.g. my religion) without understanding the full context of it, then I cannot keep him/her as I have zero room for people like that as they are most likely going to disrespect other people for having values that are completely different from them. Most importantly, if someone can respect and understand where you’re coming from based on your values, then this one’s a keeper!
  24. Speak up without fear. Oof. That one has been hard on me as I personally struggle to find the words to say to people when I’m stuck in a rut with them. Whether it’s with a bad boss or horrible friend, speaking up to assert yourself against their behavior is frankly too scary. I’ve made the mistake of holding on out of fear, but I realize that life became much better the moment I spoke up, asserted my argument and kicked the villain out of my life. Being passive-aggressive with your approach to conflict isn’t the healthiest (which I am guilty of), but you will walk out a winner when you release the truth. If it’s a job that you like, but your employers have been leaving you in the gray zone, it doesn’t hurt to talk about how you feel, negotiate and ask. A little assertiveness may come a long way, but building tact while being a fighter for what you want will greatly benefit you.
  25. Seek/Build emotional transparency. Being honest with your emotions is something that I’ve been learning to value now. True feelings over who you have in your life builds over time and based on my experiences, whenever I drop the truth, it has been a guide for me to see who I can keep in my life. When the receiver shares their true feelings about me that are positive, this is a sign that he/she is comfortable with me and is available to put in emotional trust. Based on my experiences, if someone has been hiding around things or gave me an excuse to cancel a plan and I had to find out over social media, then it’s a sign that someone hasn’t been entirely honest with their feelings towards me (i.e. not valuing you). Giving answers without providing the full story to back up a claim or purposefully vague responses when someone you haven’t heard from replied so late is also a red flag, too. But the things that make me value my friendships more are when my friend can voice an opinion without concealing the truth or feel safe with sharing personal information to me as that inspires me to get real about myself. However, not everyone will initiate with opening up, so I took the lead to come clean about my feelings and be vulnerable. Based on my experiences, it has been successful as that helped the other person get real with me.
  26. Date who will challenge you to be better. In my early 20s, I was always on the hunt for a “type”: hot, has to look like a certain celebrity and in good shape. But what I failed to look at were their values, background, family history, personality, how they expressed their feelings, what we have in common and how they treat me/other people. I hung onto the superficial values from my teen years until I was 25. All it took for me to change that was one swipe, a couple of good or awkward dates and deep convos. It’s very Love Is Blind-esque of me to go through a handful from dating apps, but if you feel that this one particular person stands out because of how much you have in common (e.g. background, experiences, family history, values, etc.), then this is somebody to consider pursuing. But if you feel that the person you want to potentially pursue is worth the try, then do it by all means. Be cautious about when to actually pursue it because trying to rush the process is bound to be a disaster. (Sadly, this can bring out the worst in you as it did for me as being desperate to seek a connection right away has made me emotionally needy!) If the person of my dreams ticks off all the boxes of what I want, I am beginning to learn that he has some aspects of him that are different from me that I need to consider as those things can either make or break the future of the relationship. If I feel that his differences are something I can accept or understand, then this is someone to actually consider as differences help me to challenge myself for the better. The one thing I’ve just learned from my friend is that some good men out there actually have baggages. If you and the guy of your dreams can work to resolve the baggage, then this is a sign that this relationship is bound to change your life. The hardest part about dating is prioritizing what you want as I’ve learned that the more I search in a type, the more limited my prospects are and the more unsatisfied I will become when things don’t line up to how I want it to be. On the flip side, I’ve learned that I shouldn’t be too wishy-washy on my feelings as that got me to miss the opportunity to be clear with executing what I really want with a guy. But once I make a decision, my biggest mistake is ghosting as I honestly struggle to find the words to kindly reject someone. Same with not evaluating the reality of a situation or person’s character as I’m the type that likes to jump the gun (a behavior I’m putting to a stop right now). I guess that after all, this impatient Gemini needs to learn how to be patient as patience and/or forgiveness has been proven to be the secret to making things actually work. 😉
  27. No validation, no problem! I have to admit that seeking validation is one of my worst traits. I secretly overthink because I want to be reaffirmed with my thoughts. I get frustrated over little things like engagement and likes on Instagram or how many people follow me on YouTube. Ditto with posting pictures so that I can score compliments. I always felt that if I had received enough attention, then I’m set. However, one of my friends told me a couple months ago that I honestly didn’t need to rely on online communities to seek validation and he was right. At the end of the day, I am a young creative without a blue check by my name on all social media platforms and I have the power to be confident in myself.

Published by

Michelle Varinata

Lapis - (n.) a layer Shrek once said that "onions have layers" as he was peeling one. Like an onion, I have layers. Born in Jakarta and raised in Singapore, I grew up being surrounded in a multicultural environment. Then, I moved to the States, where I lived in NYC and L.A. The creativity, hustle, bustle and vibe of those cities inspired me to become a blogger, journalist and influencer. Writing by day and living it up by night, I slay in the streets one OOTD at a time. Full-face makeup included, too. ;)

6 thoughts on “27 Things I’ve Learned As I turn 27

  1. Hi, just came across your blog and these are some really nicely-written posts you have 🙂 looking forward to see more of your stories & thoughts! Hi from a new follower!

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