January not only started with a new year, but also a new decade so it only makes sense that I've been reflecting right? Ten years flew by so fast especially since I started the previous decade as a 13 year old 8th grader with teenage acne. Fast forward 10 years later, and here I am at 23... a graduate student with slightly less (adult) acne. Hahaha. I reflect back and realize that so much has changed obviously since I was 13. Throughout this past decade, I have learned so much not only about myself, but about how truly faithful God is. I have grown so much since then (not physically hahaha still short) and I wanted to share 10 thing I learned in the past 10 years:
1. You will not always vibe with everyone... and that's okay.
This definitely took a while for me to accept especially because I always felt like I had to be everyone's friend. Because of that, I was such a people pleaser growing up and felt like I always had to hide a part of myself that didn't want to "weird" people out or have to act a certain way so certain people would like me. But honestly, there were just some people that no matter how hard I tried... we just didn't vibe well. I never felt like I could be myself around them and it was so exhausting, especially when I did find people who I could be completely myself around and loved me for me. As I became older, I came to a realization that it's not the quantity of friends, but truly the quality of friends you have...and I have some pretty high quality friends if I say so myself.
2. Stop comparing yourself to others.
I elaborated on this a bit during a blog post I posted a while back about not comparing myself to others because my journey in life is different (so you should check it out). But I also learned not to compare myself to others regarding appearance. Growing up in a predominantly German town... I never felt like I met everyone's standards of "beauty". I felt like nobody ever had a "crush" on me in high school or thought I was "beautiful". Hahaha. It sound silly writing it out, but it's true. I was this dark haired, brown-skinned Filipino girl who had a round button nose and was super short. I was never asked to go to a dance and I always found myself dancing to "Big Green Tractor" by Jason Aldean (this is still a jam btw) with a friend because nobody would ask me to dance. I didn't have blue-eyes, pretty tan skin and blonde hair and I would always compare myself to those girls growing up. It really wasn't until started attending UT where there was so much diversity to where I realized...wow there are different types of beauty and mine is different than everyone else's and that's okay. Someone's beauty does not mean the absence of your own... and that "you're pretty....for an Asian" isn't a compliment.
3. You are more than your failures and successes.
In the past 10 years, I have graduated high school and college and now I am getting a master's in public health. I have had my fair share of accomplishments, trophies, and ribbons... but I've also had my fair share of failures. At the end of the day though, I had to accept that my identity weren't in those things. I am more than just my failures or successes. I am not my GPA, my degrees, or my achievements and I'm not my failures. I am a child of God and He loves me not for what I have done, but for who I am and I couldn't be more thankful for that.
4. Never settle.
I have learned through my friendships and relationships that I should never settle for anything less than what I deserve. I will never settle for a job that isn't my dream just because it has been a difficult journey. I will never settle for a relationship just because I am feeling lonely or because everyone around me is in one. A pastor from a conference I went to said to "never settle for anything less than God's best in your life" and I have never forgotten it since. I do not want to settle for a job that I am not passionate, or pursue other things because it's "easier" or be with someone who doesn't pursue or value me.
Philippians 1:6 "There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears".
5. Let God close doors in your life and be okay with it.
There were loads of times where I would pray to God asking if He could open doors for me in my life...but then I realized, in order to open some doors, He will have to close some. Then I was "shook" and would be hurt because He started closing doors in my life - whether that be opportunities that didn't happen, or relationships and friendships that ended. And honestly, although it hurt sometimes, I learned that it is okay because He has far better plans for me than what I imagined for myself anyway.
Ephesians 3:20 says "God can do anything, you know - far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us."
6. What's coming is better than what is gone.
I am a person who tends to walk down memory lane a couple of times and when I walk down there... I sometimes tend to stay there. Then I start thinking about my regrets or past choices or "maybe I should've just done this instead of that" or the "what ifs" in life. Then I realized, what's happened already happened and I shouldn't dwell on my past mistakes or regrets. What the Lord has in store for me, is so much better and I am excited to see what it is.
Jeremiah 29:11 "I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out - plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for."
7. Friends will come and go, but that's okay. Those who want to stay in your life will make an effort.
Aside from my family, my friends are so important to me and I have so much love for them - new friends or old. I try to be a great friend to my friends and it was a hard pillow to swallow the past 10 years to accept that I had to let go of friendships that weren't good for me or friends that became too "busy" for me and would stop making efforts to reach out or answer me. I believe people will make time for things and people that are important for them and friendships should be a two-way street. I get it - everyone is busy, but it doesn't take that much effort to shoot a text or call someone to check in on them once in a while. You deserve a friendship that pushes you to be the best version of yourself and a friendship where you do not have to guess where you stand.
8. Take it one day at a time.
I used to worry too much into the "future" and then the "future" started happening and it was not exactly what I pictured at all. If you would've told my 13 year old self that she would be getting an MPH and not in medical right now...she would not be very excited I tell you. LOL. It's okay, because 23 year old me has learned to just trust God and give it all to Him and that His plans are better than my own. At the end of the day, why would I stress myself out and worry too much when it's not going to add anything to my life?
Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."
9. You have nothing to prove to anyone.
Out of all 10 things I have learned, this one was by far the hardest to learn and what I still struggle with sometimes. As the first child of two hardworking immigrants who moved here to give their children a brighter future, I always felt I had to perform because I didn't want to disappoint them. I felt like I had to be the best at everything and to strive to be the perfect daughter, sister, friend and student. But what I really had to accept is that I am not perfect, nor will I ever be. I do not have to "prove" to anyone that I am "good enough" or "smart enough" to achieve my dreams. There will be times where I miss the mark and that's okay too. I may have taken a detour towards my plan on becoming a physician, but don't look down or pity me because my path is different from yours. My parents are proud of me and will love me no matter what. I do not have to "perform" for anyone nor do I have to explain myself to anyone. If I am pursuing what God has for me, who are you to give your opinion about it?
Romans 8:31 "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?"
10. Love yourself.
Last but not least, l really have learned to love myself, these past 10 years. Like actually love myself. I love my fun-sized stature, my Filipino button nose, my super distinct loud voice and everything quirk in between. I have learned to love my strengths and imperfections. Honestly, it has taken a while to achieve this confidence in myself, but when you really think about it... God, the creator of the universe... loves me and thinks I am the apple of His eye. How could I not love myself?! I am His treasure. Sure, there are days where it's harder to love myself, but I am so proud of how far I've come along into loving the person looking back at me in the mirror.
As you can see, I have learned lots in 10 years and I have yet to learn so much more these next 10 years. I have my highs and lows just like everyone and there are times when I am a hot mess... but hey, who isn't sometimes?
So cheers to what God has in store for me and you this next decade! I am looking forward to seeing who I become within the next 10 years.
The girl with upside down dimples