Life Lately

Hello, Quarter Life! Here are 25 lessons I learned at 25

hello quarter life

Recently, I turned the ripe old age of 25.

I arrived at its doorstep with a freshly inked spot on the left side of my chest (see photo above).

Armed with balloons and 90s-esque homemade feast, we soaked up on the late-March breeze over night swimming and then Baguio City. Candles were also blown (as I was whooping and sneezing) at my new office and after an MBA class. Such is my welcome to quarter life.

Ah, 25. We finally meet. So let me take this opportunity (excuse, more like) to share the nostalgia. Here are some life lessons I carry with me, as I greet another year:


#1 Create a strong sense of self

If there is something being 25 accomplished for me, it’s knowing who I am better. In high school, I had a terrible case of identity crisis trying to find out who I am and wishing I was someone else. Thankfully after so many years of trial-and-error resulting to lost friendships, lost opportunities, and lost sense of direction, I have hit home. I learned that time gives you space to grow and forge your own path. And it’s up to you to fight for staying true to yourself.

Thus the name, followyouroad.


#2 Take chances (with bleach, tattoos, and people)

My younger self couldn’t have imagined going blonde, getting a tattoo, getting into a long-term relationship, and even travel blogging. I can only count family travels with one hand and I’ve never been abroad with them, too. Surreal how seemingly unfrightened I was, since I’ve always known myself as a jumpy, terrified, hesitant person. I’m happy I took my time but still took my chances.


#3 Quit comparing

The thing with being the middle child is that you’re so used to comparison. You become overly sensitive of other people’s advantage over you, and you secretly yearn the attention they get. It took me years of resilience to accept that I won’t graduate on top of the class, be the prettiest girl in the group, or land the perfect job. When I let go of comparison, I became freer to do things that mattered to me and not anyone else.


#4 Reality check other people’s comments

Whatever my choices were — and I mean whatever — other people seem to feel important enough to give unsolicited feedback. About my job (freelancing vs. becoming a full-time employee), the person I’m dating (or staying single), and my weekend lifestyle (studying vs. traveling). I realized we comment only at the level of our comfort. As I’ve learned to stop comparing myself, I also learned to simply ignore comments. Bliss.


#5 Improve your work ethic

It’s okay not to land your dream job the first time — or the second, the third, and the fourth times. What’s most important, I learned, is doing my best even for the shortest projects. Eventually, consistently good output pays off, as word will spread and soon opportunities will knock on your door. A good record speaks for itself and can give you the biggest breaks.


#6 Learn genuinely

From grade school to grad school, I never was the honor roll kind of student. Grades are important, yes. But engaging with a diverse group of people, handling a hectic schedule, and troubleshooting when things fail will sometimes teach you far more than any class lesson.


#7 Don’t allow yourself to always be too busy

Though I juggle multiple responsibilities, I always make sure to make time for friends. Even if that means taking half-days off at work, missing some classes, or pulling all-nighters. Being “busy” is never a status symbol. My MBA professor told me, “You’re a good student, but you’ve maximized your absences. Set your priorities straight.” Of course, I didn’t tell her I already have.


#8 Get life-proof friends

…friends who can be with you through multiple changes of weight, complexion, boyfriends, and salary grades. As I grew up, I found that true friendship is more than daily meetings and slumber parties. It should be able to withstand, encourage, and carry you through the tough times… because they do exist!


#9 Celebrate singlehood

When I was single, I’ve always cherished my alone time be it doing the laundry or the groceries, or going to trips and events (“Who are you with?” to which I answer, “I invited myself!”). It made me confident that wherever I go, I can always thrive. Not to mention, independence will always be attractive.


#10 Redefine love

I now define true love as… humbling. It won’t always leave you feeling “the happiest woman alive” or “on top of the world”. Admittedly, it will sometimes trigger your deepest insecurities or unearth issues from childhood. Any real-ationship will need to endure letdowns and heartaches. At the end of the day, all that matters is if you love the person thru their periods of being unlovable, lost, or irrational.


#11 Become good at goodbyes

By this time, I’ve come to crossroads between “goodbye” and “try again” hundreds of times. The magic lies in the knowing the right when — to resign from a job, to stop seeing toxic friends, and even to give up pursuits that are going nowhere. I used to think quitting was unacceptable. But now I see distance and absence as part of the circle of life.


#12 Pursue something outside your work

If there’s one thing I’m proudest of the past five years of my career, it’s my work-life balance. Never was I made for work-school-house only kind of grind. That meant leaving the office on time, not taking work home, and finding time for travel and leisure. This led me to meet amazing people, open new opportunities, and refresh my mind. Between work and life, I choose life 60% of the time. That formula is yet to fail me.


#13 Think long-term

#YOLO is great for taking chances (#2), but I soon found that it’s a wasteful way to live. I’ve learned to take in the things that suck — the slow, repeated, un-Instagrammable grind. For me, this meant saving money, showing up for work daily, and studying for school on weekends. When you know where you wanna be in the future, it’s easier to make short-term sacrifices.


#14 Keep writing

This is exactly how I became a writer: I wrote most of my high school life in a diary like an enormous throwback. It’s a habit I’ve been trying to get back, too. Recommendation: Don’t publish it on social media.


#15 Try new films, new books, new music

Cultivating a healthy curiosity is always beneficial. I can even say I learned more thru plain Google search than my MBA program. Download videos, buy thrifted books, and listen to bands you haven’t heard before. This will broaden your mind in ways no paid internship or exchange program can.


#16 Be kind

We’ve all had gossiping co-workers, brothers who make it their business to provoke us, and partners who upset us. But those things are not excuses to lash out and be mean. Even the most annoying officemate is going through a rough patch. I keep reminding myself to be kind. To just think that they’re doing their best to survive life in ways they only know how.


#17 Take care of your body

If there’s one form of vanity we should all have, it’s being healthy. Go to the gym, do a daily skincare routine, eat well, and sleep. Boyfriends, jobs, and friends come and go, but you’ll only have one body. You won’t regret taking care of it.


#18 Look pretty

If you know me, I’m not exactly a vain person. But I know what a put-together outfit, good-looking shoes, and prepped-up face do to uplift your mood and confidence. Allow yourself to feel better and look better most of the time. To me, that’s one of the best weapons in life.


#19 Invest early

Never too early to pay for life insurance, invest in the stock market, or save your paycheck. At 25, I learned that early money habits will go with us through adulthood. My first job paid me barely minimum wage and even then I had to pay for rent and bills. Now that I’m earning so much more, I know better than splurging above my means. Complaining about running out of cash before payday isn’t cool. You can do something about it.


#20 Don’t try to change people

Parents may always be nitpicking and unsupportive. BFs/GFs may always be clueless and disappointing. Friends may always be too sheltered to your liking. Don’t count on them changing. Love them anyway.


#21 Passion and profit won’t always meet

I learned that the more I try to make money out of writing, the more I started to hate writing. And the more I tried (or willed myself) to be passionate at work, the more I felt burnout. Now, I’ve accepted that passion and profit won’t always intersect. In fact, they’re best separated.


#22 Date yourself

Sure, we can all have a bunch of awesome friends, a loyal partner, and very supportive parents. But alone time is equally important. Whenever I spend too much time with others, I find that a part of me gets lost in the togetherness. That’s why I’ve learned the value of withdrawing and flying solo.


#23 Don’t feel guilty about saying no

Earlier, “yes” my default catchphrase. But now, I’ve appreciated the value of “no” — to Ultimate tourneys, uncomfortable favors, a promising job interview, or even meeting friends. While taking chances is great, trading FOMO for JOMO has its perks!


#24 Moving out is a good choice

Disclaimer: moving out is not for everyone. But it was one of the best choices I’ve made. I stopped taking air-conditioning all night, eating all the groceries in one sitting, and even buying fancy soaps for granted. I felt overflowing gratitude for what my parents have done for me when I started paying the bills and my own tuition fee.


#25 You won’t have it all figured out

Finally, I don’t claim to know all the wisdom in the world. Who knows? Someday one of these learnings will need to be unlearned. Not having it all figured out leaves me room to be surprised, experiment, make mistakes, take chances, quit, and start over. It’s still the only way to grow.


Now I’ll hand over the mic to you… what have you learned at age 25? 🙂


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  • Reply
    April 11, 2017 at 3:00 PM

    Are you still single? I mean, when I read point no. 9, I understood that you are now married. Is it so? Also, I like the word , real-ionship, meaning those relationships that are genuine. Your article has a lot of maturity.

  • Reply
    Louisa Mercado
    April 9, 2017 at 1:55 PM

    That’s quite a list of realizations. At 25 you’re not thinking too much about those things. I’d like to say I was carefree at 25 but I was a mom of 2 and working. Marrying young made me responsible at an early age and there wasn’t a lot of time for fun. I think now though I’ll make a similar list and try to do the things I want to do so when I look back I can say I achieved some of it.

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      April 10, 2017 at 7:37 AM

      Hi Ms. Louisa, that’d be a good idea. I’d love to read that. Yes, having a family by 25 will definitely have another set of learnings. It’s fun (and also responsibility) on its own. 🙂

  • Reply
    Mommy Queenelizabeth
    April 8, 2017 at 8:05 AM

    This is inspiring. I was actually thinking why i didn’t have this when i turned 25 years back. Maybe i used reflect too on the things that i learned and that matters most to me at the of 35.. that will be soon.. 🙂

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      April 10, 2017 at 8:28 AM

      I’d love to read that! Not a lot of people talk about 35 but I think that age is also a milestone between your 30s and 40s. 🙂

  • Reply
    April 8, 2017 at 12:19 AM

    You’ve tackled a lot of stuff here that I can easily relate too. Well, maybe because we’re the same age :)) I don’t think I was able to greet you a happy birthday. So belated happy birthday. Anyway, I love everything you wrote. May you continue to serve as an inspiration.

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      April 10, 2017 at 8:28 AM

      Thanks Me-an. I think we share the same birth month? Cheers to 25 years. May we fill it with awesome adventures. Hope to see you girls soon 🙂

  • Reply
    Ree love30
    April 7, 2017 at 7:50 PM

    It’s fantastic if you can learn all of this and apply it by the time you’re 25! That’s young to have this wisdom and knowledge I only learnt half of this stuff by the time I was 30 so you’re doing great. Ree love30

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      April 10, 2017 at 8:27 AM

      It’s all right. I’m sure you learned a bunch of things that I didn’t. We don’t get to learn the same things at the same time. 🙂

  • Reply
    John Pena
    April 7, 2017 at 7:32 PM

    We’re the same age! But I’m quite jealous as I see you’ve been to way more places than me *oops I forgot, though shall not compare yourself to others* haha kidding aside, I have the same mutual feelings on the way you look about life, good for us right? Cheers to living a good life!

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      April 10, 2017 at 7:35 AM

      Awesome! It’s good to know that a lot of people my age read this. Haha. Cheers to the good life. May we have many more good years ahead of us. 🙂

  • Reply
    April 7, 2017 at 5:46 PM

    Great that looking back like this. I think often we don’t realize how much we’ve learned and been through. It’s good to a look and realize it like you did! It will help us a lot in the future. I still love taking chances and trying out new things. And they always make great memories. Learn genuinely is also great. I still have to remind myself of that. When in was in school, you’d learn something every day. Now it’s sometimes tempting to stick to what you know. But with blogging, I still learn so much! Love your list.

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      April 10, 2017 at 7:34 AM

      Hi Carola, very interesting points. After school, it’s really up to you to take charge of your learning. I heard that some people never read another book after college, which is sad. The only way to grow as a person and professional (whatever profession that may be) is to keep learning 🙂

  • Reply
    April 7, 2017 at 4:46 PM

    Very realistic and true… before you hit your 30’s, it’s very important to learn and understand these major thought provoking things. Now on and after your 30’s, it’s a different set of things that you will realize… Happy Quarter life to you sweetie 🙂

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      April 10, 2017 at 8:25 AM

      Thanks so much 🙂 I think so too. Even a major shift in career or family life will entail a whole new different set. I wonder what will happen by the time I’m 30…

  • Reply
    Nicole Paler
    April 7, 2017 at 4:20 PM

    Love this list! I will be turning 25 as well today and your article made me think about the good, the bad and the lessons I got along the way. One thing is for sure, I know I look great in bleached hair, color red and green and I hope to get the courage to try out a real tatt someday soon as well. And it’s so true that you won’t have life all figured out by 25. hahaha!

    by the way, I already closed my wordpress blog and moved everything to another site. 😀 it’s at now hehehe

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      April 10, 2017 at 7:33 AM

      Awesome! I’m yet to have the courage to try other colors, but there’s no better age to get away with it I guess! Haha. Happy Birthday Nicole!

  • Reply
    April 7, 2017 at 11:29 AM

    I’ll be turning 25 too on October and everything you write here is true!! I can’t think of something I can add pa. But there’s this thing that I always tell myself – be kind to yourself despite how little you think your progress in life is. When I’m younger, I used to think that my 25 year old self will be successful and rich. And every time I remember those days, I get sad because I feel stuck in life. So I started jotting down all my achievements (even the small ones) and somehow I feel proud of the 25 years I survived. 🙂

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      April 7, 2017 at 11:37 AM

      Hi Bea! Wow. I honestly think jotting down your achievements is a great idea. Sometimes success isn’t always a grand accomplishment. Plus, we define success in very different ways. I’m sure your younger self will be proud 🙂

  • Reply
    Kimberly c.
    April 7, 2017 at 3:03 AM

    Wow these are all essential points. I especially like the one about comparing yourself to others. I can so relate to that. It funny but as you get older you realize that the things that were once super important are now on the back burner. I need to make my list too…just for fun

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      April 7, 2017 at 7:57 AM

      Go ahead! I’d love to read what you wrote. Looking at the comments, I think a lot of people can relate with experiencing comparison 🙂

  • Reply
    April 6, 2017 at 11:18 PM

    You have grown so wise with years! Commendable work in enumerating your lessons so well. Follow them and you are bound to progress in life! All the best to you in coming years.

  • Reply
    Thelittlelai: Beyond limits
    April 6, 2017 at 10:56 PM

    This is just so lovely and most of what you’ve learned at the age of 25 is very relatable. I really learned a lot from your blog post and I enjoy it. I was just turned 25 as well two months ago and I’ve learned a lot from my experiences. I truly admire you for taking time to write this and you share it to us. Thank you so much Sam for this. I know that you’ll learn more in the coming years.

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      April 7, 2017 at 7:58 AM

      Hi Lai! Yes I saw from your previous post that you also recently turned 25. Hope Quarter Life will be good to us! 🙂

  • Reply
    Berlin | Momi Berlin
    April 6, 2017 at 10:18 PM

    Love your long list here. I find quit comparing as very true and practical. Practical in the sense that it would.definitely make your life uncomplicated. Happy 25th. Enjoy life. Gosh, you’re sooo young!

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      April 7, 2017 at 7:58 AM

      Thanks Ms. Berlin! I have a lot to learn. I really find your blog helpful in getting a new perspective about life 🙂

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