Photos: Vina Guerrero

Location: Tagaytay, Philippines

Outfit: Striped Turtleneck (Korea) | Navy Blue Turtleneck (Korea) | Grey Trousers (Topman London) | Specs (Sunnies Specs) | White Sneakers (Adidas Originals)

I used to always hate my birthday. The fact that most of the people are still tired (and full) from all the holiday festivities—having my birthday on January 3rd was the worst for me as a kid because our refrigerator is always still full of leftover food from all the festivities. Because of this, my parents wouldn’t get me a birthday cake. During my “teenage angst” years I got so pissed for not getting another birthday cake—it was a vicious cycle. The idea of buying my own cake was so pathetic so I didn’t bother getting myself one lol. You see, my brother celebrates his birthday the day after mine so imagine the next day, the attention was all on him. Fast-forward to college I didn’t really care about getting a birthday cake anymore—good thing I have friends who would always surprise me. Don’t get me wrong, my family is amazing. My mom prepares spaghetti and fruit salad (my favorites), the other members of the family really makes an effort to make sure I “feel” my birthday. Haha! So believe me, I have nothing against them. I guess this is just my younger-self reliving his childhood thoughts—my petty, superficial thoughts.

When I turned 26 last year I thought, “okay that’s kind of old”, then when I turned 27 this year I thought

 “okay that’s kind of really old.” Haha! Sometimes I laugh at myself when I have these talks in my head. When I was a kid I promised myself that I will never let go of my toys. Yep, the movie Toy Story hit me hard. Turning 27 this year didn’t really make of an impact—I didn’t think of throwing a party with my friends like what I would usually do. Instead, my birthday started off with my mom leaving a note on my breakfast plate that says “Happy Birthday! God Bless you always. There’s turbo chicken in the turbo.” Followed by my Tita (who is a pastor) coming over the house and prayed for me. After that, my girlfriend Vina surprised me at home with my favorite cake (she knows my issue with birthday cakes lol), we had a delicious Florentine steak (which I will probably never forget), went to the mall for the Zara Sale (lol) then met up with my family (all 17 of us) at one of my favorite restaurants. They even got me 3 more cakes! Wow, good thing I’m writing it here to immortalize my birthday this year! Haha! Point is, once you get older, you will really get to focus on things that really matter. Before writing this blog entry, I prayed hard and asked God to guide me in writing this. Hopefully I get to say the things I want to say—but more than that, hopefully this can inspire you and guide you through your 20’s—the craziest years of your life.

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20 things I learned in my 20’s

  1. Choose friends who will lift you up, support you, inspire you to do better and be with you even when you’re at the lowest point of your life. Spend your time and energy on people who you can connect with. You won’t vibe/get along with everyone you meet and that’s okay. Having a small circle of real friends is 100x better than having a ton of acquaintance.

  2. We all have our insecurities—but give it time. Sooner or later, you will learn to embrace these flaws. I would be so conscious about so many things too but let me tell you now that people have way too many issues of their own. So relax, don’t think that the people around you will judge you, because chances are, they’re insecure about something else too and that’s all they are worried about!

  3. In our generation today, everything seems so fast-paced. We want information fast, we want to do so many things, go to so many places, etc. This is good but also remember to take each day as it comes. When so many things are happening in your life, it’s so easy to get overwhelmed and lose track. Take a breather—one day at a time.

  4. In your 20s, you will fall in love. Make the first move. All it takes is 15 seconds of courage. Trust me, it will all be worth it. Have long and meaningful conversations with your significant other. Laugh at his/her jokes, embrace his/her imperfections and be with him/her during those dark times in their lives.

  5. Invest in a comforter. You will have the best sleep of your life. Trust me.

  6. There’s no shame in being alone. I used to always get embarrassed when I eat alone at a restaurant or watch a movie alone. I would pretend I’m texting/calling someone I’m about to meet up with (how pathetic can I get lol). But as I grew older, I started to find the beauty in being independent. I live for those days when I go to the mall alone, go to a coffee shop, sip on my iced latte and enjoy the silence. When I went on a solo trip to Italy, it was the most beautiful and liberating experiences of my life.

  7. Partying is fun and all until you get a really bad hangover. Drink lots of water and maybe pop in that advil if you have to.

  8. Always make time for the people who love you—your family and friends. Sometimes we get so preoccupied with our own lives that we forget to reconnect with the people who matter most. Whenever I’m home and I have a ton of things to do, I work beside my dad (who’s watching tv). I never work in my room. Just your mere presence is enough for them. Meet up with your friends at least once or twice a month. It’s great to hear about other people’s stories and a wakeup call for you that hey, the world does not revolve around you and whatever your job is right now.

  9. Take care of your skin. A simple facial wash isn’t going to cut it. Have a skincare routine—from washing your face, applying toner and a moisturizer. Do all these and you will thank me later!

  10. You will start to appreciate coffee in your early/mid-twenties—well at least for me. It will accompany you on all those times you have to stay up all night to finish those deadlines.

  11. Good things take time, so be patient. Whether it comes to thinking that nothing good is coming out of what you’re doing or whether it’s about moving on or waiting for an opportunity—it will come! You just have to be patient. Everything moves according to its pace so don’t rush things because if it is God’s plan for you, it is meant to happen.

  12. You will get burnout. You will lack motivation. When you’ve been doing something for a very long time, even if it’s something you truly love, you will hit a plateau. Find ways to keep yourself motivated and bring back that fire. I get inspiration from my idols—they can be influencers you follow online, a movie, a song, anything that can help you get back on track.

  13. You will make mistakes. A lot of them. People will disappoint you and you will disappoint yourself. Do not be afraid to make these mistakes. As cliché as it may sound, it will make you so much stronger. When I look back at all the mistakes I’ve made in the past, I always look at it now as something positive. With these mistakes, I am more wiser and more conscious not to commit the same mistakes ever again.

  14. Take care of your parents. They’re not going to be around forever. This is why the idea of moving out seems so absurd to me. Yes, it’s not in our culture to move out once we’re no longer minors, but then I think, “what’s the point?” Why not spend time with our parents as much as we can? They’re not going to be around forever. Most of us are lucky enough to have parents who take care of us and put us before themselves. Now is our chance to help out in the house and make sure they have a comfortable life.

  15. If you really want to know someone, travel with them.

  16. If there’s something you don’t like about yourself, you can change it. I hated myself for “zoning out” and not making an effort to socialize—so I changed that about myself. Now I can say that I am more present, in-the-moment and outgoing. Be the person you want to be—no one is ever too old to change, right?

  17. Travel as much and as far as you can. It will change your perspective in life. When I did my first out-of-the-country trip I was completely in love with it. Each destination is so different from each other so you can never compare each one. Going to a place far from home, trying out different cuisines, making new friends, seeing all these places you’ve only dreamt of going—it’s a beautiful, liberating and a very fulfilling process. So go ahead, save up and book that trip you’ve been longing to visit!

  18. Always look at the bright side. When I got suspended by my talent manager for 3 months because of a tweet I made in December 2016, I used that to only work with brands I truly love and support. When my whole bag was stolen in Berlin last November 2017, I wasn’t as devastated as I thought I would be because these are just material things. Worse things could happen. I’ve always been optimistic—this was how I was raised and I am happy that this has always been my mindset in every situation. Negativity will consume you. Come on, life is short to be miserable, right?

  19. Gratitude goes a long way. Always be grateful. Appreciate the little things. Don’t forget to thank God for all the blessings—big or small.

  20. Be your true, authentic self. There were so many moments in my life when I tried to be someone I’m not and people didn’t seem to vibe with me. You see, it takes me a while to warm up to people. When I finally start being my usual, goofy self, that’s when people start to appreciate me more. Point is, you have to embrace who you are. That makes you, you! Trust me, they will love you.

P.S. I got a little carried away and wrote a total of 32 things in the list, but I guess it’ll have to wait for another post…or perhaps a different time in my life?

P.P.S. Thank you for all the birthday greetings!

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