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Turning 23

Habits I started doing in my twenties that are helping me get by (I guess)

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Yo, I’m turning 23 next week and ever since June came (along with those glorious June memes and puns that have been circulating on social media lately), I’ve been turning this fact over and over in my head. I mean, part of me doesn’t really mind (I never really cared too much about my age because no matter what I do, I still look like a 14 year old), but a tiny part of me is like, “How the heck did that happen?” I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that I’m now closer to 25 than I am to 20.

Now, the perennial struggle of being in your twenties is that you don’t know what the eff you’re doing. I’ve been in my twenties for almost three years now. If this is a regular job, three years could already earn me a promotion. But here I am, still as confused as a baby in a strip club. As in any struggle, though, we learn to form habits (I’m not talking about Tove Lo’s Habits. That’s a different story.) in order to survive, thrive, and ultimately make the best out of the situation. So as my birthday approaches, I’ve decided to list down some of the habits I’ve started doing and have helped me get by in one way or another. Here’s to hoping you’d find them useful enough to apply them in your life as well. Or don’t. It’s a free country.

1. Putting on makeup

Back in college, all I put on my face were powder and lip balm. I didn’t bother caring about my eyebrows being on fleek or concealing my pimples. Right when I graduated and hit MY 20s, however, I started developing interests for makeup. I’m not a beauty expert or anything, though. I don’t even own a lot of makeup. But I totally get why people go crazy over these sometimes-overpriced face-enhancing things. It’s not for the benefit of the opposite sex, but for one’s own. I, for one, feel more confident going out with makeup on than going out barefaced. And for that, I love myself more. This is not to say people who don’t wear makeup have little regard for themselves. This is to say, whatever makes you feel more confident, do it.

2. Reading good content

I realized this when a friend shared a photo from 9gag. I thought, “Wow, it’s been ages since I last visited that site.” And it all came back to me: how I’d scroll through the site all day until, before I even knew it, my mom would already be calling out my name for dinner while I lie on the sofa laughing to myself like a maniac. I still love funny things found on the net, but along with that, I now make it a point to read at least one substantial article per day. Yes, those long, seemingly boring ones I’ve only pretended to have read as a teenager. I now read the news, watch TED talks, and visit international media sites, not only because it makes me more socially relevant, but most importantly because I learn something. And when you’re in your twenties, ceasing to learn is probably the worst thing you could ever do to yourself.

3. Talking to my parents

Not that I didn’t ever talk to them my whole 19 years. But now that I’m more mature (I guess), I’ve started communicating with them more. When we were younger, we see our parents as these annoying authoritative figures and all we want to do is step out of their glares so we could do whatever mischief we want. When I turned 20 though, I started seeing them in a different light—someone I could confide to about my problems, talk to about how my day went, and even joke around with at the dinner table. And I was surprised, because they, too, had problems they share with me. Growing up, I never realized this. And I cannot begin to tell you how amazing it is to treat and be treated by your parents not only as a close blood relative, but also as friends

4. Controlling myself on social media

I couldn’t help but cringe whenever I’d see the things I wrote on my Facebook wall years ago (thanks to Facebook’s On This Day feature.) The statuses I posted were full of teenage angst, rants, and senseless anecdotes no one really cares about, all screaming to be validated and called “cool.” Now, although I occasionally still rant, I’ve learned not to post about it anymore on social media. Maybe I grew up, or maybe constantly posting nonsense on social media just lost its luster to me. For someone whose profession is a writer (and a former social media manager), a silent Facebook wall might be a contradiction, but that’s just how it is. And that’s one of the ways I keep my life toxic-free.

5. Stopped gratifying religion

Mom, don’t kill me. I know you’re reading this. I was raised as a Catholic, heard Mass every Sunday as a kid, and went to a school run by nuns where they made us memorize every prayer imaginable. You’d think I’d grow up to be the most religious person you know, but I didn’t. I guess, somewhere along the way, I learned that being religious doesn’t automatically make you a good person and earn you a ticket to heaven. I’ve met people who haven’t even heard Mass for years, covered in tattoos and whatnot, and they’re the kindest, most generous people ever. I also know people who’ve memorized the Bible from Genesis to Revelations, but couldn’t even give a second look to that beggar whose child is suffering from an illness on their way out of church. I still pray and believe in God, though. But when it comes to some religious people’s self-righteousness, in the words of my fellow millennials, I can’t even.

6. Supporting an advocacy

My general advocacy is to be kind and love one another. If you want me to be specific, it’s feminism, human, and animal rights—two things I won’t talk about now because they deserve different articles oftheir own (and I feel like I won’t be able to stop if I do.) What I’m going to tell you, though, is how advocacies don’t only give us something worthwhile to believe in. They also give us a sense of purpose. Of course, we can’t be expected to make a big change immediately on our own. But everything we do, no matter how little, must contribute in raising awareness on our advocacies. And who knows, little by little, we might actually change the world.

7. Laughing at myself more

For most of us, twenties translate to making a lot of mistakes. Even if it’s as simple as mistakenly using your cat’s shampoo as body wash (which I may or may not have done), to something as serious as forgetting to pay a huge debt. But hey, it’s not the end of the world. When I realized I was using my cat’s shampoo as body wash, my first reaction was to say all the curse words I know. But in the middle of it all, I laughed at myself. I laughed so hard that I sat down on the bathroom floor until my sides hurt. For this, and for all the other stupid things I’ve done, I’ve learned to forgive myself. Not only because I’m allowed to make mistakes, but because, I thought, if I want to survive this life in one piece, then I need to stop taking things—including myself—too seriously all the time.

8. Listing things I’m grateful for

I suck at keeping a journal. I’d usually start by writing, “I promise to write on this journal about things like how I thought my cat’s shampoo was my body wash from here on out,” and then nothing else. But I like keeping memories and going back to them when I’m feeling nostalgic. One thing I’m good at, though, is making lists. So I tried listing “Things I’m Grateful For Today” one night it and totally changed my whole journaling habit. For one, it literally takes just a few minutes of my time. For another, it helps me end my day on a positive note because I’m only focusing on the good things that particular day has brought. It also reminds me that there’s always something to be grateful for each day, no matter how bad it may seem to be.