12 Lessons I Learned as a 21

There’s something therapeutic about train rides.

The constantly onward progression offers restless panorama moving backward. With the passing of view, I’m able to reminisce about the elapsing of time, on its own steady pace.

I once was a girl filled with wanderlust. This girl, this past me, would boldly trek through valleys of euphoria and trudge up mountains of sorrow, is but an old acquaintance.

Four years ago, I arrived on the American soil, with no expectation of what reality would throw my life into.

I took in, and took in so much, to the extent where the spectrum of color was muddled, and the delicate boundary between toxicity and substantiality was blurred.

Four years later, I found myself on the island of the Great Britain, washed by the Atlantic Ocean in the North, yet differently, with concise values of education, lifestyle, and sociality.

I recognized things in colors. I was able to evaluate what I encountered from the perspective of what I had experienced.

Today, I sit in a room filled with emptiness, exhaustion, and eeriness. Yet I’m tired of once again attempting to build a rapport with a whole new world, expending emotional labor, luxuriously and incessantly.


2016 was such a year of trying. 

Trying to search, connect, and accept.   

And more specially, it was the year of me as a 21, being a 21.

To me, 21 is a noble number, as it takes away the excuse of baby-ing and grants the title of adult-ing. Though the society seems to assume a 21 with ever-widened knowledge of knowing how to adult, I, at heart, did not come to realization of certain things until I let myself.

Yes, 1. the most worthwhile moments are the ones that I let myself.

Yet, I’ve been too down to keep letting myself.

And you can’t really un-feel a sensation, or un-know something like heartbreak.

I had been loved, and I had loved.

I craved for intimacy.

I expected bilateral conversations day in, day out.

I verbalized my loving feelings.

I took initiative to make things happen.


Basically, I had zero chill.

But now, I have way too much chill.


The same innocence and vulnerability that allowed me to love so hard have also doubled in intensity as lie, rejection, and loss entered my life.

I don’t want those feelings.

So I’ve built walls.

I’ve become suspicious of possibilities, and turned down opportunities.

My inability to feel let me down a rabbit hole. I’ve dug into the artifacts of my past relationships with families and friends.

As naïve as it seems, teenage impulse and young love’s purity is a fucking force of nature. The same way they generate conflicts and clashes, an unbroken heart is able to rebound and recover from the custom lessons of growing up, and is able to live and love without the burdensome knowledge of the darker side.


I’ve come to a realization that 2. friendships and relationships are built on needs. The relations are maintained because two parties feel valued. Imagine if you never have a reason to need them. It is when we humble ourselves to the fact that interdependency is essential that we uncover a true relationship. It’s okay to reach out.

3. If you believe that tears are the vibrant signs of vulnerability, think again. Being vulnerable means being honest with yourself, expressive of feelings, and open to who you trust. Tears are not vocal.

4. There’s no games of better and worse. It’s simply a matter of is or is no longer. If you don’t matter to certain people. It’s not about you. It’s simply the fact of irrelevancy. There are just some people you don’t click.

5. Take pride in your passion. It’s your identity. It’s what gives you comfort, and makes you you.

6. Spend time with fam. While your social circles expand as you grow older, you are still the world to your parents, who go through life with your best interests in mind. Learn to care about them the same way they do for you.

7. A period of sobriety helps you realize things. It is a period of rediscovering self-worth and balancing life options. You might realize people who you usually drunk call don’t hit you up with a sober reason either. As cliché as it sounds, to build a meaningful relationship, start with the one with yourself.

8. Traveling is fun, but there ain’t no place like home. The place you can be ugly in peace.

9. Little things ain’t little. The texts you send. The one more question you answer. The people you speak to. The kindness you spread to people. It all counts. And it all stacks up.

10. Yet, little things don’t always matter. “Don’t worry about the little things. Don’t spend energy on drama that you won’t care about in a year or two. Letting it bother you is already half the battle lost.”

11. Never underestimate a good education. Likewise, don’t take diversity and gender equality for granted. We live in a California bubble. And it is what we’ve done to get us where we are. Educate yourself. Stop saying things like “that’s so gay,” elevate your diction, question things.

12. One day you will look back, and know why it all had to happen. Not the best 12 lessons, but they are the ones I learned from the moments I let myself. Open to new possibilities, you might learn a thing or two.



A work in progress



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