26 for 26

This day marks the 26th year from when my mama swooped me into this blue planet. I know, I've crossed it—that line between the early and the late twenties. I expected it to suck and for me to feel panicked, but I actually feel triumphant (cue evil laugh) about it. It feels like a new season, with new adventures of course!

And here are the (*sigh* cliche) 26 random things I learned in the effin, thought-catalog market called the early twenties:

1. You change a lot. The girl who was transitioning from being a college graduate to a fresh grad employee to a newly hired in her second or third job will never be the same again. It's a constant battle between ideals and practicality, between passion and money, between what you like and what you have to do. And if you've had it hard like me, don't worry, you'll eventually figure out the next step, then the next, until you come up with what's okay. What will matter in the end is that you change—heart, soul, and mind.

2. You hardly ever change either, really. The girl who kept reading Harry Potter books despite what her parents told her, or who (punk) rocked Avril Lavigne songs—she will never change. Some of the ways you think or how you process are innately you, and I think it's true with me that I hadn't change much at all.

3. You didn't have it easy? It's okay, continue being grateful. Nobody takes on life always prancing merrily away. I think there are points in our timeline that are sputtered with challenges and mess. The thing is, they are painful to go through but essential to molding who we needed to be at that point in time. I always found the light at the end of the tunnel by the way, there are just some tunnels (many actually) that are so long you just can't see the light that easily. But it eventually comes, I believe in that. A tunnel is made to be pass through, not get stuck in.

4. You are NOT in total control, and that's a VERY good thing. I am a planner at heart, organized and on schedule. But this year, I've TOTALLY DROPPED all my plans. I've let go of my day job that was making me unhappy, my budget plans (and the rest is history from here, right?) and I just went, "Lord—I don't know what else to do. This is yours." Mic drop. Hands up. The great thing here though is that God is smarter than me. Maybe my plans were doomed from the start but He has the original plan with Him and He's excited to do it with me. So much for being a planner, huh?

5. God is good. In my life, it always boils down to that one-sentence truth. He is good. He never fails, and He has never failed me. Yes my plans tumbled down from a single decision but He is good and He gave me the wisdom on what to do next. When I didn't have direction, He directed my footsteps. When I was burned out, He gave me rest. He is good in every season of my life, and that truth never failed me.

6. When you let go, you let Him be Him. I let go of my main source of income, but He—in all His goodness and grace—showed up and surprised me. Let me boast about Him, may I? Let's face it, freelancing is often frowned upon but when you're freelancing with God like I did, you can earn bucks you'd never expect (by doing a 3-day/week job that you love), and you can also be assigned to travel (for free of course) and be asked to write about it (which you love) and get paid for it, and be even published in print. When you rest in God, you are unlimited and that is the best feeling of assurance a planner like me (who has dropped a major deal in my life) could ever hope for!

7. It's really hard work that pays off. Now, c'mon, grace is not magic. It has to find you working and believing for the best God has for you. What I've written above is great, but it didn't mean that I didn't struggle. I did, of course (especially when I go on my stupid way haha). Patience is key, and so are heaps of faith.

8. When God works, He redeems fully. I had 10 long months of vacation, but what I really didn't expect is that He restores one very important area of my life completely—my relationship with my mama. You see, I'm not my mama's girl, I'm not girly and I don't like shopping that much. I wrote in my journal years ago that I think I didn't know who my mama was anymore or that I seemed to forgot what she looked like closely. But He hears and He redeems. And in my time of rest, He gave me the best gift—a renewed bond with my mama. He is good, I tell you.

9. He realigns your dreams to His. Photography has always been a dream to me. Somehow, I stumbled upon it, having the privilege to know and do what I love. I wholeheartedly pursued it, but I know that His ways are better than my ways. I have come to rest that doing it full-time is not my calling, but I will surely keep on making time for it. Maybe it's not now, or ever, but I rest this case knowing that He honors the desires of our hearts. I just wanted to travel and take photos of sunrise and sunset of every place I go to and put it on a coffee table book since I was 15. I think He heard that.

10. He always surprises you with more than what you expect. After phases of brokenness, He got me a highly favored day job that I'm excited to serve. It brings me closer to my dreams of traveling the world and making that coffee table book, which I never expected Him to fulfill. He hears. He makes ways. He just doesn't answer according to your schedule.

11. He keeps you humble. Growing a big head? Nah, don't worry, You'll smack it right outta yourself. He's there to pick you up.

12. He blesses you to be a blessing. A great deal of self is tackled during the early twenties (true for me). But I found out that if you focus less on yourself, you actually get more fulfilled.

13. Let the kids have it. See whiny tweets from 20 year olds? Don't worry, that's probably you when school, class suspensions, and my-parents-don't-get-it were all your world. You had your time being all-knowing, let them have theirs!

14. Parents know best. Yes, they do. When your mama tells you your friend's not a good friend (aka a bitch) then she probably is. Listen.

15. Being self-aware is *really* important. I've seen countless people in my early twenties that seem to look in the mirror and forget how they look like right after. It's either they don't realize or tend to ignore what needs fixing that they end up getting used to it in the long run. Let's keep on checking ourselves with honesty and make this world a better place shall we?

16. The 'Life Happened' slogan is bull. Well, at least for me. That sentence only becomes true when you give up. Life is not meant to happen like it's something bad, it's supposed to be celebrated and lived to the full. I'm 26 (later at 11:45pm) and I still refuse to make that my slogan. Don't worry I'll be honest and let you know once 'it happened'.

17. Sometimes you want babies, sometimes you don't. The ovaries are calling and telling you, 'Gurl you gotta move fast or the kids here will dry out soon.' I KNOW. Can the freezing of eggs be more affordable? (Lesson here: your mind is as fickle as a pickle when it comes to this area and that's okay.)

18. Oh shoot, forget the babies—you're NBSB for carrot's sake. HAHAHA (so sorry writing this at 2am). I mean yeah, during the early early twenties (20, 21, 22, 23) you're still, 'Girl, I'm fine! Single and fine!'. But then you hit 24 and suddenly you feel a little bit sad sometimes. I think it's biology speaking, but yeah, generally you'll be fine. *Patting myself, reassuring* But then you remember that God has His perfect timing and you continue to trust in that.

19. What the world thinks is normal may not be always right. I love my LGBT friends to pieces, and I love spending time with them. But I do believe that God's love is the only answer to the hurt, the rejection, the pain, and the attention we are seeking. It is the only truth that can heal, save, and restore.

20. Saving pays off. I've never been the waldas girl, and I'm truly thankful my mama taught me how to budget and be careful with money. Sometimes I can be a bit stingy but I think it pays to say no to leisure more often than not.

21. Being stripped away of everything makes you realize the real important ones. Who are you when everything is removed from you?

22. Don't give it all away. I've always admired Nirrimi in this area, being raw and honest to a fault. But somehow I know she has matured too in what to share to heal the world and what it is to keep to her own, her private shell. I think I've learned that too. I'm a very picky person to be honest and even though I share much, I don't like sharing some things to everyone or to people I don't really want to share my life with. My journal pages are full and I think it's important to keep a side of us that way.

23. It's okay to let go of people. And keep and treasure the few ones you want to share your life with.

24. Family is essential. Drop everything but never them. I realized that with them, everything is sweeter. Coming home from traveling is sweeter when you have a family waiting for you and successes are more meaningful when you have a family who supports you. The great thing about it is that a family's given, you don't have to work for one.

25. It's okay to feel old. It's actually an awesome way to wake up to reality!

26. When you love, give it your all. You don't give up, you don't settle for less. You fight for it, you wait for it.

Time can only tell.


I've been listening to this song since I was 17, and I can't believe it's so relevant to me now.