Attack Decay Sustain Release

Things turning 30 taught me

I’ve begun writing a new column for the Philippine STAR’s Sunday Lifestyle section called Attack Decay Sustain Release. Henceforth, I plan to upload my columns here as well, some time after the original publication date, in order to compile more of my work here (in a format I find pleasing), and also so that it’s more readily accessible.

I think it bears mentioning that the tone of my writing for the paper is a little different from the tone I typically take here. I write here expecting that the people reading my personal work already know at least a little of the context behind the stories, or care a bit about who I am. But when I write for the paper, that goes out the window. I have to assume that the people reading have no idea who I am and are largely uninterested — unless I can make them interested. So the key there is to keep it real, but keep it relevant.

But also, to keep it strictly PG.

This was published on 19 October 2019.

Five years ago, when I was the alarming age of 27, I asked an older friend what it was like to be in your thirties. “You’re going to love it,” she told me. “It worries you now, but when you hit 30, you suddenly just stop giving a f— about so many things, and it will free you.” I didn’t believe her then, but I’m 32 now, and she was absolutely right.

My twenties were clouded by the struggle to reconcile the person I was discovering I wanted to be and the person I believed I was supposed to be (or thought I was expected to be). It was a confusing period in my life; I felt thrust from childhood into adulthood with nary a road map, and spent the bulk of that time feeling lost. I was trying so hard to forge an identity for myself; figuring out how the world worked, and what my place was in it. Real world experience forced me to dismantle old ideas and beliefs, and embrace new ones, which wasn’t always an easy thing to do. My twenties were not easy.

But my thirties have been a revelation. Still not easy, but easier, because I’ve learned some important things along the way that have changed how I look at my life, and how I live it.

Say yes.

Most of the very best things you’ll ever experience in life will come from overcoming your fears and saying yes more often. So many of us are so scared to venture outside of our comfort zones when we are younger. We think to ourselves, this is okay; this is enough, and we hold ourselves back because we’re afraid of the unknown. We shouldn’t be.

Say yes when a good opportunity presents itself, even if you feel out of your depth. Never let the fear of making mistakes keep you from trying. You’re always going to make mistakes. Making them and then getting yourself back up, that’s the best way to grow and learn. When you go through something hard and make it through, the next time becomes easier, because you’ve done it before and you’re stronger for it. And hey, you might just build something amazing as you go.

Say yes every time you get the chance to travel, especially if you get to travel alone. Exploring new places will teach you so much about the world, and exploring on your own will teach you things you never knew about yourself and what you are capable of. Learning to say yes took me on adventures I would never have imagined when I was younger, and I met incredible people on those journeys who made the experience that much richer.

Say yes when you get invited to things, whether they’re simple things like dinner or movies, or crazy things like celebrating Halloween on a private island. (If it’s financially viable!) I used to say no to activities when they mostly involved people I didn’t know or didn’t know too well. But when I decided to give people a chance and say yes more often, I built much deeper friendships than I ever expected with acquaintances that then became close friends, and made so many new friends from all walks of life who, through knowing them, helped me expand my worldview. And I got to do some really fun things, like win quiz nights, hike the Masungi Georeserve, and yes, celebrate Halloween on a private island.

In my twenties, I always felt like I was just a background character in my own story. I felt like I was on the sidelines, watching other people live interesting and incredible lives and wondering why that couldn’t be me. It wasn’t me because I was so sheltered, always so afraid to try. Finding the courage to say yes really advanced the plot. I’m definitely the heroine now.

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