7 Truths I Realized at 27

Last August 20, I turned twenty-seven — time flies so fast. I couldn’t believe.

The first time I wrote Craftdeology, I was doubtful, full of fears, afraid of being ridiculed and criticized. Months flew and… yes, I’m still afraid of being ridiculed. As they say, fear is always there.

“Well, people can mock what I say,” I told myself. And that’s okay because we see things differently. Who cares? I am more concerned about my growth and what I can contribute for humanity. Sounds cheesy, but I mean it.

Now I’m 27 — married and filled with big dreams. It’s been two years since I began my self-reinvention experiment (self-transformation, or self-experimentation, whatever you call it). Since then, I’ve had many realizations. And I would like to share them, hoping it would help you in some way. Here are the top 7:

1. Success is Relative

We are conditioned that success is having more possessions, achievements, or money — thank you TV. The truth is, success could mean differently for anyone. It’s not always about having more money or working as a CEO in a high-profile company.

For others, it could be shipping an art or a new invention, or being great at things they love. Or it could be serving people, or preserving and protecting the planet.

The point is, what success means to you may not be the same to others.

If owning a big house, or a luxury car, or a 100-acre land are your metrics for success, so be it. But remember, we’ve been conditioned by the media. Redefine what success really means to you.

At age 27, I have figured out a way to balance my time for music, writing, self-education, day job, and family. That to me is success. As the famed artist Bob Dylan once said,

“A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.”

2. It’s Okay to Be Different

Back in high school, I used to please a group of students whom I considered as friends. I wore the kind of outfit they wore. I talked about things they usually talk about. I tried to like what they like. Generally, I tried to imitate almost everything they do.

Adolescence stage, so to speak. I wanted to fit in — be accepted, be recognized, and be liked. It was a recurring pattern until I began to love (and play) music in college — particularly rock and metal.

For some reasons, it changed the way I see things. Not everyone would like the kind of music I love. So I have no choice but embrace who I am and face the truth. This is when I realized that each person is unique in their own ways, that it’s no use fitting in, that it’s okay to be different.

A year after graduating college, I started reading a lot. Reading has helped shift my perspective, fine tune my mind, and redefine and unlearn almost everything I used to believe, including the essence of individuality — everyone is different.

If your family or friends or the whole society pressure you to conform, remember:

It’s okay to pursue a different path. It’s okay to pick a different career. It’s okay not to follow the norms. It’s okay to try a minimalist lifestyle. It’s okay to chase your wildest dreams. It’s okay to be different.

3. Change is Hard

It’s funny to think that most of us shout for change. We all want to change something in our lives or in our society. Though I believe it’s good, most of us don’t have any idea what change may bring.

Here’s the truth: Change is hard.

Really hard. Changing something means eliminating or adding things. Changing something means using a different approach or doing something new. Changing is a reinvention.

Imagine if we eliminate greed, bad habits, pride, hatred and everything negative, and start doing things for love and progress. That, perhaps is when real change begins, right? Here’s more about change.

4. We Can’t Control Everything

Traffic. Late. A faulty water pipe. A toxic relationship. An angry spouse. Slow Internet. Bad weather. — We can’t control everything. We can’t manipulate each scene. But why do we get disappointed? Why do we blame others?

At times, I would hate myself for being perfectionist. I know, I know, it’s not a good thing. I used to believe that successful people are those who are always in control. Aren’t they? I don’t know.

The turning point was when I finally accepted that there are things I don’t have control over with. In fact, all people have limited control over things. We don’t have control over the weather, the mood of our spouse, the behaviors of other people, and even the elections.

Trying to control everything is unhealthy and frustrating. It won’t make us happy. As Stephen Covey said,

“Basing our happiness on our ability to control everything is futile.”

What we do have control is the way we deal or respond to the situation. It’s not the unexpected things that shape our life  — it’s our reactions.

5. Dreams Keep Changing

In fact, almost everything in life change.

When I was kid, I had wild dreams — big and scary. I wanted to explore the planet. I wanted to visit a fantasy land. I wanted to be a superhero, and many other things. We all have weird dreams we don’t admit.

In high school, I would tell my relatives and close friends that I would consider becoming a lawyer. And during college, I wanted to become a famous guitar god, a successful musician. I don’t know what happened, because two years ago, I accidentally became a writer and now dreaming (and now taking actions) to make the world a better place.

The point is, if your dreams keep changing, don’t worry. That’s normal. But you have to figure out what you really love to do, and then, work hard towards it.

At some point, evaluate yourself and reassess what your dreams are. Is your childhood dream still your dream? Does it still matter to you? Would you pay the price to achieve it, or you just love to imagine achieving that dream?

6. You Can’t Have Everything

Our parents often told us that we can have everything if we work hard for it. I don’t know. Maybe they want us to pursue the things we desire and never give up — thank you. But the truth is, having everything is impossible. As Benjamin Hardy puts in,

“Everything is a myth. It’s not only impossible, it’s ridiculous. You can’t have it all.”

I do understand that parents are excellent motivators. But whether they know or don’t know what they’re doing, the impact was deluding. All my life, I struggle with the idea that I would be happy once I have everything I want. Of course it didn’t happen.

If you want to be happy, focus on the things you need. Because we can’t have everything, even Bill Gates or any wealthy person. We can’t. We’re only humans.

7. Our Parents are Imperfect

When we were kids, we used to believe that adults know everything, specifically, our parents. So we think of them as people who can help solve all our problems. But the truth is, our parents are imperfect human beings, struggling to make ends meet, and sometimes make poor choices in life, and sometimes make illogical decisions for us. That sucks.

Happened to you? Don’t blame them. As the brilliant author J.K. Rowling said during her Harvard commencement address:

“There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you.”

I love my parents.

Bonus: The Myth About Resumes 

(I know this one shouldn’t be here. But my intuition says, it should be.)

The trend in college is to build an impressive resume in order to land a high-paying job in the future. I remember one of my colleagues confessing that he had worked on a radio station as a disc jockey even though he didn’t like it — the purpose is to impress his future employers. So you’re a DJ? Awesome.

Here’s the truth: Resumes have nothing to do with you doing great work. If you want to do something great, if you want to invent a product to better the lives of people, and if you want to be remarkable, you don’t need a resume. Seriously, you don’t need it. What you need are ideas, passion, self-confidence, perseverance, grit, hard work, optimism, and an open-mind for learning.

Don’t get me wrong. Resumes are important when applying jobs. Employers prefer those who have experiences and certain skills.

But if you, however, spend majority of your adult life trying to build an impressive resume, you’re chasing a never-ending mission. You’re wasting so much time instead of focusing on doing great work.

I hope you learned something. What about you? Would you share yours? I am willing to learn from you. Drop it here.

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Jade Panugan

Some interesting questions about life and human behavior: What if there's no money? Why we often feel the urge to prove that we're right and others are wrong? Why we react to things beyond our control? Why we hate? Why it's hard to be content? I don't have all the answers, do you? Let's chat.