21 Things I Learned in 2021

I’m 2 years shy of being 30, but I feel that this year has been the year of growth for me. I find that when you’re getting older, you have no choice but to grow up and learn from mistakes. Sometimes, it’s easy to repeat mistakes without aware that you’re repeating it. On top of that, I realized that I have a tendency to cling on to unhealthy mindsets I’ve developed when I was in my early 20s, which I thought was once OK. Through these changes, I also find that this year has raised a lot of self-realizations that has called me to start levelling myself up.

While staying at home has been a choice for one and a half years, I decided to take some time out of being in Singapore and escape the confines of my room. By traveling through four different countries, it was a month long trip that brought me to start thinking of new beginnings and see that there is more to life than I previously thought!

While I am just as human as you, I am no role model as I don’t want to set myself up to be “perfect”. Instead, what I aim to do is to aspire to inspire you to start thinking about what you can do to enrich your life with these little pearls of wisdom. No matter how old we get, it is never too late to still keep on learning. ❤

  1. Self care isn’t linear – new habits don’t sink in overnight and it’s normal to fall off the wagon. But, carving out time to take care of yourself is something to invest in even when you’re feeling high or low!
  2. You still make mistakes and that’s ok – don’t take it too hard when you mess up because it makes it harder for you to forgive yourself. But that shouldn’t stop you from being capable of giving love to those around you! You and I can’t travel back on a time machine and fix whatever mistake was made as it’s not meant to be that way. The best way to move on is to forgive yourself just as God forgives you. 
  3. When conversations don’t go smoothly, don’t take it too hard when it becomes an argument out of nowhere whether it’s real life or online. Not all perspectives align (when someone has a diff reality than you) and there’s nothing you can do to change their perspective/opinion. You don’t mean to trigger someone’s feelings and when you’re upset about their answer, do your best to de-escalate it civilly. There’s too much temptation to argue back and it’s so easy to cave into it (been there done that!). Some folks just want to keep on arguing in retaliation for a perceived attack than to be curious about your perspective. You don’t know the reason behind their triggers and don’t take their anger to heart as they were assuming you to be like the others who hurt them in the past. If someone wants to keep on attacking you in an argument, let them attack. You don’t need to stoop to their level and leave the conversation in peace.
  4. Your mind is real estate – you have the power to give rent, extend it and/or end what you keep inside your head. 
  5. Think about the amount of time you spend thinking about something or someone negative and calculate how much time you spent on your interaction with them. If the amount of time you spent is small, why bother thinking about them when they don’t think about you? This is easier said than done as it took me a few years to understand this.
  6. Time tells the truth on who your friends really are – it doesn’t matter how long you’ve known someone or if it was someone new, but the truth is always unwrapped through words/actions.
  7. Advocate self care for your friends – all of our energy levels are built differently and when one of you/us needs to recharge, respect that boundary. It is no different than our relationship with our phones. Giving them time to recharge is also giving them love as you respect their space and it’s always worth the wait!
  8. Be open to different vibes – usually, it’s so much easier to stick to the vibe you usually go for. But when it’s a different one at first, it’s easy to judge and brush that away. However, the best thing is that once you keep unwrapping the mystery, a pleasant surprise awaits!
  9. However, if you find that the vibe is off, never question it. I made mistakes of questioning it out of fear of being perceived as judgmental, but I am learning that if someone carries negative energy at first text/call, don’t be afraid to draw yourself away! I am aware that we’re being taught that not to judge, BUT this is an exception where you can rightfully judge someone for being a bad character.
  10. People who project their issues are simply taking it out on you. They’re used to their past/present issues to the point that it’s normal to them, but not normal to you. They don’t know that what they’re doing is truly harmful to everyone including themselves.
  11. When a connection doesn’t work out, don’t feel guilty or regret giving others a chance. You did the best you can whether it’s a friendship or romance. Some vibes weren’t meant to happen. ❤
  12. Not everyone has the same reality as you – it’s so tempting to project your own reality on someone else’s situation and that makes it so easy to misunderstand what’s happening. When I traveled around Europe, I was shocked when I saw bunch of maskless people walking around the street. Then I realized that they had a different reality of coping with covid than I did as it’s a rule to mask up indoors and outdoors in Singapore. It was mind blowing to see a different reality as it encouraged me to not judge.
  13. Excuses aren’t excused – it’s so easy to give toxic people an excuse out of love/compassion for what they’ve gone through, however, what’s toxic is toxic! Mean-spirited folks don’t deserve an exception from you. Period.
  14. Be more open to different perspectives – it’s easy to say that you’re open-minded, but when a different POV is presented to you, it’s easy to shut it off. I am honestly not the most open-minded person as I like to stand by my views, but when I stayed at Viva Mayr (a medical spa) in Austria, it was a trip that changed my mind. For two weeks, I had been surrounded by guests who have previously caught covid and since they were there, the hotel also offered post-covid recovery for those who caught it. Given that I stayed in Singapore at the beginning of the pandemic, I had been sheltered from the reality of those who caught it and since it was covid zero for the remaining of 2020, I was used to the fear around it. While there’s a general fear of those who caught covid, hearing these conversations brought me to see that life doesn’t end with it. What I learned was that covid survivors can carry on with life like pre-covid times including traveling. Hearing conversations from covid survivors has brought me to feel less afraid of the virus and keep on living life like it’s 2019.
  15. You’re not aware that you give unsolicited advice, help or opinions – I know that you want to share from a good place, but some folks get pissed off about it so easily over this, but at the end of the day, don’t get so hung up over it if someone is upset. Suggestions don’t always have to be followed as you have the freedom to reject it kindly. 
  16. Social media can always wait, but real life can’t! – I went on a social media detox for a weekend during Easter and again in August. I also had to delay my posts during the first week of my Eurotrip as well. Even though the FOMO to share is real, I’ve learned that it’s OK to delay posting as you can never refresh real life to see the same screen again and again.
  17. No one intends to invalidate your feelings – others see things differently and speak how they feel about something. If you feel upset, don’t be afraid to raise the issue and speak it in a constructive way that can allow you to find a bridge with the other person. People aren’t aware that they invalidate your emotions.
  18. Face your anxiety – for me, I’ve had a lot of anxiety before traveling to Europe. I was afraid to travel while covid cases were still happening and go to a wedding over there, but what did real life tell me? There is nothing to be afraid of. Your anxiety can tell you every fear/worry you’ve ever felt, but these things just go away the moment you experience the present. I had my hot girl fall in Europe, yet I remained careful of covid. The virus is still around, but you can’t let your fears/worries get in the way of enjoying life!! 
  19. Don’t be afraid to be more flexible – I am not the most flexible person in the planet and I easily lose myself when things don’t go my way, but I realized that this mindset isn’t healthy! Flexibility may seem difficult at first, but I realized that it’s so doable once I accept that I can be open to change of plans or cheat a bit with my diet. Being in control is my safety net, but losing control and adapting to a new situation is allowing me to have the freedom to be more flexible.
  20. What you do doesn’t have to make sense for everyone else and that’s OK – I used to feel like I have to explain myself and my actions to everyone. However, I realized that it didn’t change people’s minds as much as I hoped. For instance, if I have to unfollow someone who wasn’t nice to me, I was being told not to unfollow for the sake of keeping the peace. Yet, I’ve stuck to my guns to unfollow because I find that it’s easy to for me to trigger myself when I see their social media if I remain to follow and I’d rather not do that. By unfollowing, it’s allowed me to have the freedom to move on in peace. I don’t care how many mutual friends/acquaintances I have with that person or how well-connected they are, but it’s honestly not worth keeping someone in your social media life if you’ve already cut them out of your personal life. I also delete their number and conversations as I don’t want to trigger myself when I see their messages. To quote Taylor Swift, I’d rather forget that they exist. Burning bridges is seen as a bad thing, but in this case, you can do that without guilt because nasty people aren’t really hurt when you leave them.
  21. You have the power/freedom to be your truest self, develop values differently from your parents/friends/society you grew up in and evolve in other areas, yet still be the same person your family/friends love you for! Growing into yourself is no overnight metamorphosis, but finding who you are through self expression whether it’s fashion or the arts, allows you to give that power to own who you are without apologies.

Published by

Michelle Varinata

Lapis - (n.) a layer Shrek once said that "onions have layers" as he was peeling one. Like an onion, I have layers. Born in Jakarta and raised in Singapore, I grew up being surrounded in a multicultural environment. Then, I moved to the States, where I lived in NYC and L.A. The creativity, hustle, bustle and vibe of those cities inspired me to become a blogger, journalist and influencer. Writing by day and living it up by night, I slay in the streets one OOTD at a time. Full-face makeup included, too. ;)

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