18 THINGS I LEARNED IN 18 YEARS
I'll be officially turning 19 at midnight (May 16th is my birthday) so I thought I might as well write some 'life advice' to sum up my years of experience. (19 isn't a special number, but 18 is okay)
And to be entirely honest, I've been through quite a lot already and I'm still standing strong (as visualised by the pic above).
I went to school in Hong Kong until I was in Year 11, then I transferred to a legit international 'college' in New Mexico (I know it's crazy) and graduated a year early (more like ditched high school) to come back for med school. I don't want to whine and complain, but life is so tough and throughout the years I've definitely had my fair share of breakdowns, failures and heartbreaks.
But before you move on and read this, please remember that I am in no way trying to give advice and if you do take any of the points below into consideration, please don't quote me on it - I don't want to get into any trouble (I'm serious, I don't want parents emailing me).
Without further ado, here are the 18 things I learned in 18 years:
1. Listen to your parents (80% of the time)
Okay this one is so important. (That's why it's the first point, duh.) Parents are human beings too and believe it or not, they've been through much more than any of us have. Sure your mom's views may be different than yours and you may have a completely different personality than your dad, but they did make it far enough in life to make you - surely they're doing something right. Common arguments like going out, buying something, or doing what you really want to do are really normal. For the most part, take your parent's advice - they have their worries and concerns. On the other hand, we must remember that we are unique individuals with unique personalities. Plus, there's obviously an age gap between parents and you, so their opinion on some things may be outdated. Such ideas usually arise in the 'what do you want to do when you grow-up' discussion. In such case, you must take charge and pitch out your own ideas. Speaking from personal experience, if you don't do so, you will definitely regret it.
2. Take chances
No, this doesn't mean taking photos on the edge of a rooftop for a new Facebook profile pic. Go the distance, be who you want to be, try new things - that's what I'm talking about. In year 10 I wanted to organise a charity dance competition, but nobody truly believed I could pull it off. Nobody: not my parents, my school, my friends. I was also scared because dance carries such a negative stereotype for boys, and I didn't want to be picked on. All the circumstances were telling me 'no, don't do it', but my heart said 'yes, go ahead'. So (counting as part of the 20% of the time I don't listen to my parents) I went ahead and did it. You can see for yourself how that went:
3. You must fail
I can't stress this one enough, it's so important. And no again, this doesn't mean trying your hardest to fail the IB - please don't jeopardise your academic career intentionally.
You must fail before you can succeed. By succeed, I mean really succeed. Sure, you can roll through life doing mediocre, but if you want to do extremely well, failure is inevitable. Failure can take many forms: a simple test, a huge exam, a broken relationship, not winning a race, a whole month of not wanting to go to school, finding out really bad news... The failing part is nothing worthy of remembering - it's the part where you pick yourself up and recover to become someone stronger, wiser, smarter. That way when you do succeed or accomplish something, it'll feel so good. You'll learn to aim higher and better. Most importantly, you'll grow.
4. Appearance matters
'Don't judge a book by it's cover' only applies to books in the real world. I'm telling you this is a legit point. Appearance really does matter and regardless of how much we know we're not supposed to judge someone by how they look, it's inevitable and everyone does it. You don't need to dress up or wear luxury brands, you just need to look clean and proper. Oh and wearing a smile is always nice :)
5. White shirts are amazing
The only style tip on this list: wear a white shirt. I have a ton of white shirts (tees, actual shirts, collared tees) and it's so easy to match them with anything for any occasion. I guess this kind of ties in with the previous point. If you don't know what to wear, it's always safe to put on something white.
6. Social media is actually important, but it isn't everything
I know there are lots of campaigns going around about how we shouldn't be using our phones as much or be addicted to Facebook, Tumblr, 9gag, etc but to be frank, social media and technology is important, even vital, nowadays. The first thing someone sees when they click on your Facebook profile is your profile picture. Everyone knows this. That's why we try so hard to get the perfect profile picture or know when it's 'time to get a new profile picture'. It's the easiest way to update your few hundred (maybe thousand) friends on Facebook how you're doing, and I think it's pretty cool. From that, amongst many other 'features', people get to know you and learn about you - which is a stepping stone for transitioning your virtual social life, to your actual social life. Times have changed and sometimes things don't work the way they used to anymore, and I think it's perfectly normal. That said, it's not everything and you do have to go out once in a while.
7. Everyone has secrets and everyone lies
The HK in my name doesn't stand for Hong Kong - it stands for my Chinese name (Hang Kin). Boom. Secret revealed. Shocking, huh?
In life you'll meet lots of people. Some you may only get to talk to for a few minutes in your entire life and others you'll need to spend next 5 years with. The thing to remember is that you should never trust everything someone says without first critically analysing the credibility first. It's just like how we should be towards the media. Not everything is true and the companies just want more readers. That's how we work too. We exaggerate things, we twist things, we hide things, we have a different version of the same story. I've fallen into this trap countless of times because I'm just so naive. The most trustworthy person on this entire planet is yourself.
8. Little things matter
If you do things for people they will remember. If you remember someone's name even at the end of your first conversation with them, they will remember. If you drop a 'happy birthday' message on someone's timeline on their birthday, they will remember (hint my birthday is tomorrow).
If you don't hold the door for someone, they will remember. If you talk about someone behind their back and they find out, they will remember. If you break a promise, they will remember.
Everything matters - good and bad, small and big - so think carefully before doing anything stupid. (Or make people really like you)
9. Secondary school sucks (and you don't have to be cool)
Okay my high school experience wasn't that bad. It wasn't bad at all and throughout the times I've had lots of friends and support. But if you're having a hard time, especially with hate and drama and people disliking you, please remember that you will finish school someday and you will be waving goodbye to those b*tches you shouldn't be caring about anyway.
Popularity in school does not determine where you go in life. Popularity in life determines where you go in life. #important
Not going to add me sad story here, you get the idea.
10. Cut the toxic people out of your life, and don't be the toxic one
Sort of school related. You know who the toxic people are - CUT THEM OUT. People who always make you feel upset or bad about yourself and never think about you. People who lie (refer to Number 7) or people who do mean things to you (refer to Number 8). Cut them out.
You can do it nicely (just start ignoring them or stop hanging out with them), or right in the face ("hey I don't like you. bye").
After you do that, you'll feel lonely (if they were really close) and want to be friends with them again. Instead, go and find someone new (like after a break up). Friendships are exactly like relationships, just not as intimate and 'loving' I suppose.
Note: Do not categorise your parents as 'toxic' people. They are always angels (and ATMs).
11. Everyone starts as strangers
This is the next step after cutting of a toxic person, sort of (you can do this step without cutting toxic people too).
We weren't born knowing all the friends we know today. At some point in life we had never seen our best friend before, and it's really amazing when you come to think of it. We were all strangers who somehow clicked and became friends. Somehow we forget that as we get older, and along the way we stop trying to make new friends. If you've watched enough Disney movies you'll know that friends are vital.
When the new school year starts in late August, be nice and go talk to that new kid. You might have a new best friend.
12. When you receive a compliment, take it
This one is so important again(I feel like every point is important). I am so tired of people shying away and saying "no" after I've just complimented them.
"Oh you're so pretty today"
"Oh you're so good at singing"
"Oh your writing is so good!"
I used to be one of the 'no'-ers until I realised how off-putting it is for the person giving the compliment. Like I just complimented you! Say thanks or something, not "no".
13. If you really want something, work hard for it
The best example I have for this is of course my photography. I started doing shoots in 2011 when I moved to New Mexico, and I'm still doing them now (surprise surprise). I had no idea my photography would grow so much and take me this far. All I've got to say is, if you love something, work damn hard for it. If you fail (refer to Number 3), do it again. Again and again until you succeed. If you truly want to do it, the light at the end of the tunnel will compensate for all the times you fell. And let me tell you, success feels damn good.
Don't let people discourage you. Don't let a 'policy' or 'norm' get into your way. Rage like a bull running towards a red flag (your dream).
If you want it enough, and work hard enough, you will get it.
14. Plan ahead
Do homework once you've been assigned to do it. Pack everything the day before you leave so you don't forget anything. Wake up early so you don't have to rush to school. Do everything ahead of time. This rule has helped me so much throughout my school life.
15. Love will make or break you
I'm scared I might get really long-winded on this one. In case you didn't know, I have lots of feelings and emotions and I fall really hard in love. I'm glad I'm not in Year 8 anymore or else I'll get lots of "ooh who's your crush?" questions.
Love can move mountains. If you truly love someone you'll do things for them to make them happy. You'll fly over to another continent just to visit them. You'll buy them gifts and presents because you feel guilty for not living in the same place. You'll give up some of your daily habits because they don't like it. You'll cut friends because they don't like them. You'll do all of that but you'll still be happy, because you love them.
Love can also make you blind. You'll change and realise one day that you're no longer who you were. You'll be upset and wonder what's wrong with the relationship. You'll ask your lover about it and they'll decided to dump you. You'll be left all alone and broken-hearted and you will feel like you want to die. You'll cry your eyes out day and night wishing for them to reply to your messages but it never happens.
Love, oh love, is strong and miraculous and evil.
I feel like I could write a book about it.
Choose carefully. I guess that's all I have to say for now.
16. Writing is wonderful
Look back at Number 15 and see how much I wrote. Writing therapy. Try it if you're going through any hard or difficult time. I guess our parents used diaries. I like typing things out.
17. The world is huge - travel
Those of you who follow me on Instagram will know that I travel a lot. I'm going to Tokyo soon and Italy in August. The world is seriously huge. There is so much to see and so much to learn. I'm sure you've read enough articles or tips about the pros of travelling so I'm not going to dive into it. There's a reason why it's written so extensively about.
18. Hong Kong is the best
Even though other countries are cool and all that, Hong Kong is still the best. At least in my point of view it is. I guess anywhere you call home. I'm proud to say I'm in love with Hong Kong - and it's not one of those lovers who break you (refer to Number 15).
If you ever travel abroad for a long time or go to boarding school and come back, you'll know what I'm talking about.
So there. My 18 things I learned in 18 years. Hopefully that was entertaining, insightful and worthy of your time. (Don't take everything I write too seriously. Remember Number 7? Haha jk).
Now I'm off to celebrate my 19th.