this story originally appeared in the philippine daily inquirer on May 14, 2015.

You are at the point in your life where you feel that you are 100 percent an adult. You earn your own money, you support your family, you pay your bills on time, you clean your own apartment, you buy your own groceries, you create life-changing thoughts and decisions in the shower, you do your laundry, you (try to) manage your schedule (juggling work, family, love and recreation). You are 25.

And there are moments in being in this first quarter-century when you understand you are at least a little wiser than yesterday and so much more so than 365 days ago. You’ve learned that:

1. Family is everything. This is something you’ve heard countless times from your parents and other grownups when you were just a few feet old, but you only realized its essence when you’ve spent years away from home while chasing after the future. You learned that your mother really is the superwoman in your life even without the red-and-yellow costume you drew and imagined her wearing when you submitted your second-grade homework. You learned that your sibling is the greatest ally you can have, no matter your differences. You learned of the grave difficulty your parent/s has/have endured just so you can have a comfortable life after receiving your paychecks (those paychecks that were earned through a month’s worth of petty issues at work, fatigue, emotional distress, questioning of self-worth and much more, but you still have to show up because, yeah, this is life). You respect your parents more because of that. You learned that at the end of the day, the sweetest idea is that you will always have somewhere to go and your most favorite people in the world are there waiting for you.

2. The smaller your circle, the lesser the stress. You learned that not everyone who calls you “sis” on Facebook is a true friend in the real world. You learned that not all people who post collages of your photos together on Instagram on your birthday are people you can count on. You learned that no matter how many hundreds of followers and “likers” you have on social media, you can only count the realest people with your hands (and your toes, if you’re lucky). You learned that if it came to a crazy point where you had to delete and just leave those who you really think will stay with you in real life, your news feed will consist of only close family and a few friends.

3. God is an amazing God. You learned that He has been guiding you all along and that your wishes and dreams have all been, in one way or another, granted—in the way you wanted it to be and, sometimes, in a way better than you imagined. You learned to surrender everything to Him—your disappointments, sorrows, regrets, guilt, dreams and successes. You learned that with Him in your heart, everything will be okay.

4. Your lover is your best-est friend. You learned that there’s really no constant need for girl talk and all that because you have the world by your side. You have the greatest confidant in someone you call your boyfriend. You learned that there’s no point hiding the most authentic you from him as if he’s really meant to stay; he will have to make do with the real you, anyway. You learned that the person who stuck with you through thick and thin is worth imagining forever with. You learned that though love is not measured in the years you spent together, the years will always be proof of your solid partnership against the world and will always be a source of pride for you.

5. You will never be truly ready. You will never be ready to go through another job interview. You will never be ready to relocate. You will never be ready to attend that high school reunion. You will never be ready for family life. You will never be, what with your idealistic expectations of yourself and of the world. But you’ve learned that fact, so even if it’s as scary as hell, you learn to brave the chance and pray with all your heart that it will be worth it.

6. Travelling is something you owe yourself. You learned that there’s more to travelling than simply spending your hard-earned cash. You learned that you learn more of yourself as you travel. You learned that there’s a bigger world of possibilities outside your little space of comfort. You learned that you travel to have your mind and soul grow with you—that you have to do this as a spiritual, mental and emotional hibernation from everything that’s keeping you weighed down. You learned that you deserve it.

7. Money can always be earned. As much as you learned the value of money when you became a part of the working force in your country (or overseas), you also learned its little value when compared to more important things like family, self-love and spirituality. You see now how little luster money has in your eyes and how it pales beside these other needs or goals in life. You can always earn money—anytime and anywhere. Memories can never be that way when you’ve chosen money over it.

8. LVs and Louboutins are not investments. You learned that it’s so much worth your sweat and tears to put your money into real investments like building your dream house, purchasing your dream car, having insurance, or saving it all up in the bank. You learned that you’d rather have a more worthwhile “show” of something you can brand your life achievement than flaunt something you can wear for a few years and in very infrequent instances.

9. Your greatest asset will always be a good head on your shoulders. You learned that being sexy doesn’t require you to strip. You learned that being smart is so much more important than spending your time trying to have (and going gaga) over Candice Swanepoel’s tiny waist or Kendall Jenner’s long legs. You learned to spend more of your precious time sharpening both hemispheres of your brain—with some stalking in between, but still.

10. Not everyone’s going to be nice, but you don’t have to be bitter yourself. As much as you want to live in a perfect world, you will always come across people who seem to do nothing but burst someone’s bubble. You have consistently crossed paths with these people but you learned either to put a safe distance from them or learned to just simply get them out of your life. You learned that you don’t have to join their wagon to be equal or feel better for yourself. You realized that you love and respect yourself to a degree that you have to protect yourself from these unhealthy people. Instead, you learned to make the opposite of them out of yourself. You learned that the world is too beautiful not to have beautiful people. So you try to inspire, motivate and move by living your life in the most positive way you can.

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