“Don’t lose who you are, in the blur of the stars
Seeing is deceiving, dreaming is believing,
It’s okay not to be okay.
Sometimes it’s hard, to follow your heart
Tears don’t mean you’re losing, everybody’s bruising,
Just be true to who you are.”
– Jessie J.
Tomorrow, I will be at the age I’ve been looking forward to turning since I was 18. I’ve always been a planner…when I was 7, I was thinking of the things I would do when I turn double digits. When I was 10, I was looking forward to watching PG-13 movies and finally being a teenager. When I was 13, I was thinking of high school and the things I needed to do if I wanted to get into a good college at 18. When I entered the adult world, I imagined what life would be like in my mid-twenties as a “full-grown” adult. I was cute. Still am, haha.
Birthdays are exciting times to reflect and also think about the next year. It’s another opportunity to “restart” and turn a new leaf. At 24, I’ve surpassed the wildest dreams I concocted for myself when I was younger.
Because I think it’s fun to share, here were my goals when I was a college freshman. When I was 18, I made these aspirations for age 25:
- Be a senior finance analyst at a Fortune 500 company
- Make $80,000 a year because I wanted to make six figures by 30
- Own a little condo in the city
- Pay off my student loans
- Be completely financially independent from my parents
- Be a strong, independent, career-driven woman
What amazing goals to have by 25. But I was also such a dreamer and didn’t think about what I needed to do to get to those points and also didn’t completely understand those goals. Some of the above are not in my control. Some of those were dependent on my work performance, the industry I was in, and many external factors.
Out of all those 18-year-old-Rae goals, the last one is what holds the most true and is what I have complete control in doing. I have the power to be strong. I have the capability to be independent. I have the will to be career-driven.
These past few weeks have been such a whirlwind for me. Some of you know my Starbucks story. I took the risk entering the corporate finance world again after choosing to leave Boeing my senior year of college and choosing instead to untraditionally work in commercial real estate.
I remember telling my family about this crazy 2016 time–telling them that yes, I have fulfilled your dream of working at a huge, well-known American company like Boeing, but you’ve also told me to follow my heart and create my own path. I told them to trust me. They’ve raised me well and I needed them to trust me. This is how I’ve been able to really push myself and achieve what I have. I am because of those two and the village that raised me.
I remember being maybe 7 or 8, following my mom around as she pursued being a realtor and work with home buyers and sellers and seeing her quote in her office that become etched in my memory:
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
So after college, I started making my own trail. I had the confidence in my ability to lead my professional path and knew I had the foundation to take risks and experience new things. And new experiences, I have pursued in the past year. In the past year I have dived into three very different professional industries–commercial real estate, digital finance, and digital marketing.
All the while, I was coping with the death of my mother and her father, my grandpa Lu. I was happy, then I was extremely sad. Then I was laughing then I was uncontrollably crying. I asked myself many times “Who the eff am I? What is happening to me?!”
How amazing to look back and see how much I have grown.
This past year has taught me how to react to new lows and how to get to those highs and pursue dreams past those achievable highs. I am ready for what 25 and beyond has in store for me. So as I approach this exciting and pivotal time in my life, I have come up with 25 things I have learned before turning 25. Thank you, Taylor Swift, for the inspiration. You’re a real MVP in my heart.
Don’t worry about the things you can’t control.
- I was taught this lesson by a dear old friend who was looking out for me and helping me through the transition from high school in the comfortable Palos Verdes to college away from home in Seattle. I was scared but excited and always freaked myself out. He told me to calm down. Stop overthinking. He told me, “Raelene, don’t worry about the things you can’t control. You can’t do anything about that. You can only do what you have control over. That how you feel and how you react and how you think.” Thanks bud, happy to see you grow these past 7 years, too. Thanks for the life advice.
Love is a two-way street.
- We’ve all been there before. Where you’re in a relationship thinking you’ve done everything you can to show your love and you’re not getting the results you expected. This has happened in many relationships in my past. It’s all something I think we all go through at some point….If I do this big gesture, they should know that I love them and they’ll love me equally back, right? If I go out of my way to see them, then I should expect they’ll do the same, right? If I buy this for them because I am being thoughtful, they’ll know I want them to do the same for me, right?
- No. The answer is no. Love has no expectations and no boundaries. It’s the most frustrating experience to be in a relationship with unreciprocated love. But you’ll live and learn. Everyone has their own timelines and ways of showing and feeling love. The love languages are a real thing. Some people like gifts, some people prefer physical affection. Figure out what you need and what your partner needs. Timing is also everything. True love isn’t forced. It just happens. And when the puzzle pieces fit, it’s the most magical adventure ever.
Don’t lose sight of the dream.
- I can’t count the time I have rearranged my goals and created new ones for myself. However, I have always had a rough, malleable dream that I’ve always envisioned for myself and that is what I am in the pursuit of achieving. The road there is going to take a lot of grit, but I am excited for the moment where I can stand in that reality and be proud of how far I have come. So when you feel lost or feel purposeless, think about your dream. Hold onto it. Don’t lose sight of the dream!!!
Find your village.
- Gosh, this is what I am especially thankful for these past few months. Who are the folks from my different walks of life I can depend on for advice or to cheer me up or remind me why I am pursuing something? Who are my mentors, who are people I consider part of my village, who can I trust with my doubts, who will keep me accountable?
Find your people.
- Similar to the above but closer to the core. Who will know your deepest thoughts and will love you for you even if you’re a freaking hot mess? Who’s on speed dial? Who’s on your emergency contact list? Those are your people. Those are your forever friends. The people who become family and who you can depend on to pick up the phone or answer the door at any time of the hour. Thank you, my lovely humans, for being my people. Y’all know who you are.
Everyone has a story. Be kind to others.
- Most often in this social media influenced world, we encounter negativity and interact with people who are mean, angry, jealous, and unkind. Instead of giving them a “taste of your own medicine” be the bigger person and let it go. Or ask if they’re open for a conversation. It takes a lot of effort do this, but it will contribute to making this world a better place. We need to people in the world who can do this. Everyone has a story. Be kind to others.
Know where you come from.
- This has been crucial for me as my mom was the main storyteller in my life. She reminded me where I come from. How did I get to America? Who sacrificed before me to get me and my brother here? Who do I visit and where do I go when I travel back to the Philippines and re-discover my roots? I’ve been having to ask the questions and write the story myself as I adjust to life without her voice and knowledge but I take pride in who I am and where I come from. I am because of those before me. Thank you for your sacrifice.
You can still be independent but also be in the relationship at the same time.
- Just because you’re independent doesn’t mean that you need to be on your own. It means knowing and identifying as your own person without being attached to someone else. You can still ask for help. You can still be dependent on someone. Know what you need to stand tall and by yourself. Know what it means to not be held by someone and to be sure of who you are as a human being in this crazy world. Be free, my friend. Discover what it means to truly be free and independent.
Bask in the sunlight when you are able because life doesn’t make those last forever!
- I have learned many times over that the sun don’t shine foreva. It’ll come at intermittent times in your life and sometimes it’ll last a whole season and sometimes it’ll last for an hour. But when the sun does shine, enjoy it. Close your eyes and breathe the air and remember the feeling of sunshine on your now sun-kissed skin. I am a sun person and I need my sunshine to feel truly complete. So know that when the sun is outside, I am outside playing and when there is no sunshine, I am learning how to cope without it and discover new parts of myself and my environment until that moment comes again.
Find your happy place.
- I love this one. I am smiling knowing that I have my happy places solid. My happy place is in many places–dependent on my mood and what I need to serve myself. It’s where I get my favorite boba milk tea. It’s where I workout to get my angst and energy out. It’s where I meditate to feel grounded and flexible. It’s where I am warm and cozy and loved. It’s where I go on a run when I need to clear my mind and think. It’s where I can sing and not feel judged. It’s where I can laugh until my stomach hurts and my eyes cry happy tears. It’s where I feel at peace and I feel content.
Discover what your base level is. What do you need to feel whole?
- I have especially learned this in the past year. What’s my base level? For me, it means I get a workout in, eat my over-easy egg with furikake, listen to a song that makes me feel light, drink ice cold water, and get kisses from my dogs and my husband. That’s my base level. What’s yours?
Keep the music going in your life. You need a melody to guide you when you’re lost.
- I ignored this for a while. For a little bit, I lost what music meant to me. I forgot how it felt like to listen to a song and be like “DAT’S MAH JAM!” and sing a song in my car, hitting the high notes and be like “YOU GO RAELENE! YOU STILL GOT IT!” and dance with my friends and be like “YOU MOVE GURL, YOU MOVE!” Once I re-discovered my love for music and lyrics, I started to feel more like myself again. Not taking that for granted in the future! Sorry I forgot about you, music. But also thanks for always being there for me. Music has also been especially good to me when I feel like my mom is with me. Hi momma 🙂
Time heals all wounds.
- This past year has also shown me what incredible loss can do to people and a community and all I can say is, I trust that time will heal all wounds. Things will be said in hurt and anger and actions will be done with no thought to consequence. But it is what it is, and you just gotta do you until the right time comes around again. The world will keep turning and the clock will continue to tick.
H8ers gonna h8!
- Yo. Forreal. Let the haters hate. They’re probably going through a rough time in their lives and are projecting it on you. Try not to take things personally. Remember your village and your people and whose opinions you trust. Everything else is just noise. Don’t let the negativity consume you. Trust your process. I truly believe all humans at their core are capable of love and kindness but not always will that show, if ever. I hope they find what they’re looking for. We’re all out here just tryna function.
We’re all in the pursuit of happiness.
- Kid Cudi’s song became so popular for a reason. It’s relatable. We are all in the pursuit of happiness. What drives us? What ignites the fire within? What makes your soul happy? Choose that, do that. Understand that our peers are doing the same thing, too.
Women must lift each other up and stop being so dang mean and judgemental.
- I sometimes will catch myself making a quick judgement in my head and unfortunately sometimes it’ll come out. I am trying to be a better female and be a better woman for other woman. Now, more than anything I have realized why we need support and why we need each other. Lean in, start a conversation, and be open to others. We need each other so we can continue to be lifted to new heights.
Finding your life partner, if that’s what you want to have, will be the best discovery of your life.
- I am not saying everyone needs a life partner, but it’s been proven throughout the existence of life that we need another being to live a long and happy life. Whether that means getting a dog and living alone in the woods or spending time in the jungle doing animal conservation work, or being in a committed relationship, we need that support and comfort.
- For me, finding John and growing with him these past four years have been so fulfilling. Everything seems right. With him, I am invincible and I know that if I fail, he will be there to catch me and hold me. Bless his patient heart because that man has been through hell and back after the hell I’ve experienced in grieving this past year. He’s seen it all and now we’ve come out of the ashes as a stronger couple. He’s my safety net and my partner and lover and someone who I know will stand next to me for life. Yay for us! I love you forever.
Learn to grow. Learn to challenge. Learn to evolve.
- I feel most fulfilled and most valued when I am challenged and rise to the occasion. Sometimes I’ll hit it out of the park and sometimes I’ll have a #epicfail. We’ve all been there. Pick yourself back up. Reflect why you failed and don’t do it again. If you did right, know what worked and figure out how to apply that method to future scenarios. This doesn’t apply to just the professional space. This also applies to the personal space as well. Continue to grow, challenge, and evolve. Feel the blood rushing through the yours veins and feel the energy you put out onto the world around you.
You know, deep down, who your “day-ones” are. Keep them close.
- When you encounter a rough patch in a relationship (this includes friendships), know why they’re in your life and why you’ve chosen them to be in your inner circle. They earned that spot and you earned a spot in theirs, too. Call those people when you have downtime. Check-in. Keep in touch. Keep that authentic relationship going. You owe that to what you have built together.
Spend more on experiences not things.
- As I get older, I realize more and more how happy and free I feel when I am experiencing with friends and with family. I promise to value those times and commit to doing more like that in my life. Experiences can me made out of nothing, too.
Be courageous. Talk to someone if you need help, don’t hold it in.
- Gosh, has this been such a help for me. I had so many people telling me to talk to someone at my lowest points but I ignored it and was prideful of how far I have gotten without needing to talk to someone. But once I did, I was so thankful and relieved. My story is so unique and I am so glad I can reliably share my stories with someone who will listen and engage when needed. Bless her heart. Talk to your friends. See a professional if you need to. They’re there for a reason.
Being the “first” to do many life things doesn’t have to feel like a burden.
- For a long time, I felt like being the oldest in my family meant I needed to do things a certain way or I’d let them down. I also felt like doing the first in my friend group meant that I needed to keep up with the momentum I’ve built. Now, I’ve learned that it’s okay to slow down. It’s okay to pause. There will always be someone better than you. There will always be someone who is further ahead than you. Try to focus on your journey and know that all of the crap you’ve had to sift through have made you who you are. I’ve done this best while pursuing my dreams and ambitions while also remembering my purpose and remembering my roots.
Stay curious. Ask questions.
- When in doubt, ask. Set your ego aside and just ask. The only thing holding you back is you. Stay curious and know when to be humble and ask. Humility is learned and can only be learned through experience.
Celebrate and remember the little things because someday you’ll realize that those seemingly insignificant moments will pull you through.
- Much like #9-#11, those sunshine-y and happy moments will be great reminders of where you’ve been and how to get back to a place like that again. For me, those little moments have been these:
- Looking into John’s brown eyes and saying “I love you” for the first time
- My dad pushing me when I first rode my bike with no training wheels
- Kissing my mom on the lips when we went on our last shopping trip at the Tory Burch outlet. She also smiled and said “I love you anak” as she paid for our things. Sometimes I just remember her eyes and her mouth as she said that and that memory gives me a sense of peace when I miss her and want to remember her voice, her smile, and her beautiful spunky self.
- Walking to my brother’s room when I got home from college and seeing our picture taped to his desk. I love you littleman! Always here to guide you.
- Taking the photograph of my maternal grandparents smiling and laughing
- The moment when my dog, Wonton, climbed onto my lap before we adopted her
- Curling up with Charlie on the couch as a little puppy that fit in the crevice between my neck and chest
- The feeling of the crowd cheering when I sang “Unwritten” at my high school graduation
- Much like #9-#11, those sunshine-y and happy moments will be great reminders of where you’ve been and how to get back to a place like that again. For me, those little moments have been these:
Find love in all things. Bloom with grace.
- Self-explanatory. You got this!
Happy Wellness Wednesday!
I plan to release snippets of my reflections and thoughts on Wednesdays as inspiration finds me so as to recharge my mind and prepare for the rest of the week to come. As I sift through my memories and share the good, the bad, and the ugly, my intention is to promote self-care and self-discovery as we walk, crawl, skip, and run through life.
This blog is meant to be an open space where I share my deepest thoughts, while remaining poised for the Internet and to strangers who may not know me but are reading my story.
This is an evolving blog, with the eventual goal to inspire those to share, to be present, to find balance, and to be fearless.
We all have a story and I am choosing to share mine with you all.
Thank you for your interest! Comment below or contact me if you want to chat 🙂
One thought on “25 Things I Learned Before Turning 25 // Mar 2019”
I absolutely love this! I turn 25 in 4 months and I’m looking forward to doing a similar post. We should compare 🙂