It’s July which means it’s my birth month! Like my friends who’ve had birthdays before me, I am spending this birthday still in quarantine. What a strange birthday this has turned out to be. Can you believe it? Past the half part of the year and still here we are on lockdown.😫  Of course I’m not complaining – much

I’m spending it comfortably at home,with family, my books and Netflix so I have a lot to be grateful. But if COVID-19 wasn’t around, I would also be making plans to spend a day to treat my friends in celebration of my birthday. I probably would’ve thrown another themed party this year ‘cos I was feeling like having a party. I once threw a murder mystery party. Last year, while not exactly a party, I did invite a few friends to join me in trying out an escape room at Breakout Manila. 

Anyway, since I’m now in my mid-thirties, I wanna share some of the things I’ve learned over the years because yes, there’s wisdom that comes with age. 
1. To avoid phishing scams, learn to scrutinize

I was once a victim of a phishing scam. I got an email from “Yahoo” supposedly and it said that I needed to provide my username and password to them as they were checking on active email users. If I didn’t provide my details, my email would be deleted. 
I really didn’t know better back then. Next thing I knew my friends were notifying me that they got an email from me supposedly saying I’m stuck somewhere out of the country and I needed them to wire money to me. Needless to say, I no longer could access my email after that. And I really liked my username before: vanilla_belle because that’s my fave ice cream flavor and Belle is my fave Disney character. 
In a more recent event, I sent Gcash a tweet, asking for help troubleshooting my account because I was trying to pay a bill. I then got a tweet back from “Gcash Care” asking what I needed help with. They asked for my number so they could send me an authentication code which I would need to provide them. I almost fell for that scam! It’s a good thing I didn’t just give them that and instead I did a quick Google search about the existence of a Gcash Care account. That’s how I found out it was a fraud. Otherwise, they would have been able to get the money from my account and I won’t be able to do anything about that. It would have just been bye bye money.

2.  Looking good affects how you feel   
I didn’t really care much about how I look when I was growing up. It was only in junior year in high school when I learned to at least powder my face when it’s oily, comb my hair and look in the mirror!😆 Unlike the other girls in my batch who by then have learned about lip balms and gloss, eyebrow threading/waxing and blush, I only learned the beauty of putting on make up in my late twenties. 
I never cared about fashion when I was growing up either. Not even when I was working. I was always in jeans and a shirt. And I’d come to work wearing slippers. Havaianas sure but still slippers. I only wore heels when there was a client meeting. Otherwise, I’d be in slippers the whole time at work. 
I’ve learned the error of my ways. Took awhile for that saying “Dress for success” to sink in for me. But yes, it turns out, a good dress, a little make up coupled with gorgeous shoes can do wonders for you. It can make you feel good and boost your confidence too.  
The devil wears prada GIF on GIFER - by Siranaya

3. Just keep learning! 
I never did think learning would end when you graduate from school.
Reading’s a great way to learn new things that’s for sure. Read books. And even comic books because you can even pick up a new word to add to your vocabulary from that. In 6th grade, when my English teacher asked us what the English word is for “tanan”, I was the lone person in class that knew the answer. Elope, I said to her and I got her coveted signature for my clearance to graduate just like that. No need to pass any other requirement. Know where I learned that word? From reading Archie comics.😀
I think it’s also a key factor for me why I love working in an agency, handling different accounts from various industries. I learn so much! Speaking of learning, my friend just created a Youtube channel that’s all about learning, Learning with Mr. T! It’s another great avenue to pick up a new lesson or two.  
4. It’s good to have a happy space

I learned this from my friend, Ryan who has a side in his room where all his travel souvenirs, plants and scented candles are all gathered together. Whenever he looks at that side of the room, it makes him smile. 
I recently made a happy space in my room. I bought a couple of indoor plants and I put that in the window sill. It’s a good sight to see upon waking up and when I’m working in my room. Also seeing those plants in the morning, with the sun shining from the window, it really is a happy sight to see. 
5. Sticks and stones can break your bones and yes, words can hurt you

The actual saying goes this way “Sticks and stones can break your bones but words will never hurt me.”  Dad taught me that. He was trying to make me strong and not let the constant teasing of class bullies get to me. But while labels such as “tigidig” (pimple faced) didn’t get to me, there were others uttered that did. 
An account manager I used to work with before when I was still an AE told me I was so helpless. It stemmed from my asking her to show me how to change the ink in the office printer. Boy! Did I beat myself up for a while back there cos it made me feel stupid. 
A guy I really liked also once called me “Obsessed”. A*hole I know! But that hurt! I felt like a bucket of ice cold water was suddenly thrown over me.  
6. It pays to have people willing to be your sounding boards

Life can be seriously frustrating at times and it can be very helpful for one’s health to just let it all out. So I’m grateful I have people who are willing to lend a listening ear to me. They help keep me sane.  
7. It also helps to slow down sometimes 
It’s a lesson I learned at work ‘cos I used to be all work, no play. There was a time I hardly went out with friends after work. I’d even cancel on them because of work. Or I wouldn’t take my lunch break  just because I was swamped with work and thought not taking my break meant I was gonna be perceived as that hardworking employee. Oh and yes, even weekends, I would work on reports so I wouldn’t have to do it all come the next working week. 
The result? Well I got burned out of course. But I’ve learned to change that. You know work-life balance? I embrace that more now. When I feel that things are getting too much to handle, I slow down and take a breather. Even 15 minutes of break helps. In fact, I’m on vacation leave right now even though I have nowhere to go. Sometimes it’s all you need to get that second wind. 
It’s especially important these days when we’re all experiencing a pandemic. We have to care for our health so if it means lying in bed all day and doing nothing, that’s okay. 
8. Credit cards don’t mean disposable money 

What it is, is debt. One that you have to pay come due date. My Dad used to tell me about being careful with credit cards because I was such an impulsive shopper. One time, when I was just about to resign from my job, I even went on a shopping spree in the mall. Swipe here.Swipe there. 
I even paid for a gym membership that I only went to once or twice. I was in deep trouble for a while with credit card bills piling up and hardly any money to pay for it. 
Memorable Quotes From Confessions Of A Shopaholic
9. When you’re interviewing for a job, come prepared with your own sets of questions. It’s a two way street. 
When I was a fresh grad looking to get hired, I thought it’s only the company you’re applying to that could ask me questions so anytime I got asked, “Do you have a question for me?” I didn’t have any. Only learned to finally ask questions that will address my concerns about the job and the company I was applying to on my third job. I stayed there for four years.😊
Asking questions is how you can gauge if a company and a job is right for you. 
10. The importance of saving for a rainy day 

I have always treated savings as money that I keep and then touch when I want to. But I’ve been on a path to change that behavior. And this pandemic has also taught me so much more about the value of saving for a rainy day. 
I am lucky to be living with my mom because I honestly don’t know how I’d be able to support myself with all the expenses with my salary alone. I’m lucky too that I still have a job. But what if I lost my job? Or someone in the family got sick? Can I afford to support us? 
But even if I didn’t get a paycut, I don’t want to live paycheck to paycheck. After all, I can’t work til I’m old and gray. That’s no way to live, right?
11. How to curb impulse spending 

I’ve been applying finance experts tip: if you see something you like, don’t buy yet. Instead, wait it out for a while. If after a week or two you haven’t been able to stop thinking about it, then you can buy. Chances are, you’ll forget about it. 
And because I can be an emotional spender, I even for a time uninstalled the online shopping apps in my phone. Even unsubscribed from their mailing list! I’ve been able to successfully curb my impulsive shopper behavior so the apps are back! The test of true will is when temptation is strong you know!😆
Confessions Of A Shopaholic GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY
It also helps that I now keep track of my expenses thanks to Monny, the expense tracker app I use diligently. Now I don’t find myself wondering “Where did my money go?” 
12. Hacks are amazing! 

In my case, the hack I went to find was one that will help me skip lines when it came to bill payments. I really dislike having to wait in a long line for hours just to pay my bills. The first thing I embraced was online banking which my cousin taught me. Then came fintech apps like Paymaya, Gcash and 

With the exemption of overdue bills that need to be paid over the counter, I have made my life convenient by paying bills online.  
13. Don’t be afraid to sever ties with toxic people
I definitely had my fair share of those and I used to stick around even when I find their presence toxic because I was always thinking about the relationship – parang sayang naman and this is so much applicable for toxic friendships.  
But I keep in mind what a friend of mine always say, “Suffering is an option.” So I choose not to suffer anymore. There’s already so much toxicity out there, why add to it?    
14. A work mentor can be anyone, not just your boss 

Of course most of the things I have learned on the job, I learned from the people who were my superiors whether the knowledge they passed on to me was taught or I learned from observing them. 
But a mentor can also come in the form of a colleague and friend. Hi Ei! I couldn’t have survived that account without you. 

15. It will all get better in time 
And I mean that about sucky situations and heartaches. 
16. Every small step matters in saving Earth 

Maybe it’s an early influence of watching Captain Planet and The Planeteers. But I really do believe climate change is real. And since this is the only planet I live in, I gotta do my fair share in protecting it. If we don’t, Mother Nature’s just gonna keep coming at us with a vengeance. 
I mean isn’t that why we’re experiencing a global pandemic in the first place? Because people messed with Mother Nature! 
For a start, how about you drop off your plastic wastes for recycle or reuse instead of throwing it away? Check out The Plastic Flamingo or GreenAntz for info on drop off points. 
17. Effective skincare doesn’t always mean expensive 
Murad. Shiseido. Clinique. Lamer. Estee Lauder. Oh if I was swimming in cash, I’d be using those for my skin. I was personally drawn to Kiehl’s. Still am! I have even for a time, helped myself to some of their well loved products like the Midnight Recovery Eye which I read really does wonders for making those eyes look young and fresh! But gosh! Expensive AF! 
It’s a good thing I’ve come to discover brands out there that won’t break the bank but equally effective in helping you address your skin concerns for that beautiful skin. One of those brands I would swear by? Beach Born! I would also say this recently discovered local skincare brand might also be worth checking out – Apotheke.     

18. Read reviews. It can help in decision making. 

I like checking out reviews for various things. Gadget reviews of course – since it’s a really big spend. But also skin care because you’d like to get your money’s worth right? I even like to check out reviews of movies before I decide to watch it in cinemas. If critics give it a bad review, I often skip it. Except when I really want to see the movie. I sometimes even check out restaurant reviews though I really just get Ryan’s opinion on food most of the time. 

19. Learn to discern.

Watch. Listen. Feel. Because I can be stubborn and fixated, I ignore what other people say, particularly friends and family.
It’s specially true for me when it comes to guys. When I was younger, I fell head over heels for this guy whom my family and my friends weren’t crazy about. I never bothered to stop and ask “Why?” All I knew was I liked him so it was gonna be him and me against the odds. Dramatic. But well, I was young! Needless to say, they turned out to be right about not being in favor of our relationship. 
But it’s also very much applicable to other things that you need to decide on. Give it some thought. Hear what others might have to say. Weigh things. Then decide. 
20. Gotta believe in you
My first job was in PR. Fresh out of College, I naturally had no idea how to be an accounts person so it was no surprise that I didn’t last long in the job. Yes, they let me go. And in my exit interview, I remember talking to the Vice President of the company who told me “Maybe you’re just not right for PR.” For a newbie, that was definitely soul crushing to hear. But I sure as heck didn’t let that stop me from trying again. I knew I could do it. 
Everytime I hit a wall and I feel like I’m failing, I found that the best way for me to actually bounce back is to believe I could do it. 
21.  There’s joy in decluttering!

Whaddaya know? Marie Kondo’s right! It actually can make you happier. 
I keep a lot of things at home and it’s a mixture of stuff that I bought and given to me. They just piled on and on at home like clothes that are just in the closet, never worn again or ever worn for that matter and forgotten. 
And I kept a lot of books! Some even dating back to my childhood and teenage days. Most of these books are books I read, maybe even liked, but well once done, it’s just there in a shelf, or a drawer.     
I’m happy to say that over the years, I’ve made progress with the art of letting go of these things. I’ve even started selling them! Even my beloved books like my RL Stine Fear Street and Love Stories collection. I hung on to them for sentimental reasons but I finally decided it was time to give them to new owners. Books deserve to be read and appreciated. Plus, I am running out of space to put the new books that I keep on buying. 
It’s the cherry on top that there’s a lot of readers out there who are willing to buy pre-loved books. 
22. There’s no use shoulda-woulda-couda-ing the past.  

Shoulda-woulda-coulda as the song goes, are the last words of a fool. After all, this no Adam Sandler movie. There’s no rewind button. What’s done is done. 
I know I certainly have some things in my past I wish I could’ve done differently or never done at all. A past relationship. A job. Etc. But I can’t undo it. It’s part of me now. 
So instead, I choose to learn from my past so I could have a better future. 

23. You could become friends with the most unexpected people
There was this guy back in grade school who used to tease me a lot! He used to call me “Dabiana, balyena y basurera” (Fat, garbage collector). It’s a rhyming tease that caught on with the rest of the class. I had to endure being called those names all throughout fourth grade. How I disliked him so much for that! 
So if anyone told me I’d be friends with Ryan, I would have said fat chance! But here I am, in my 30’s and I consider him my best-est friend. My support system. My reality check. My go-to person for new foods to try. My sounding board. He’s all that to me and more. And it’s a friendship I always will be grateful for and never would want to lose ever. 
24. What real friendship looks like
1) It’s when it has withstood the test of time 
Most of my close friends are people I’ve known since school days. And while we may have gone to different Colleges, pursued different careers, moved to another country or even settled down and now have a family, we’re still friends. 
2) It’s when you’re there for each other in good times and bad. 
3) It’s when you can tell each other the truth even when it’s harsh
You know you’re good friends too when you can all call each other out on your bullshits and you know that even when the truth hurts, you’d still be friends.  

25. Just keep praying. God does answer all prayers. 

It’s not always the answer you want but it’s the answer you need. 
26. It’s not good to be apolitical 

See the current situation we’re in? Aren’t we all affected, even if you didn’t even bother to vote? So go make your voice heard. Pick your side. 
27. But also, let’s not be fanatics. Reserve that for celebrities.  

Just vote wisely, for the good of the country. 

28. Don’t compare your journey with others. 

I used to compare myself a lot with others. Why does she have a boyfriend and I don’t? Why is he promoted and I’m still looking for a stable job? 
I sometimes still get that way. Like the first month of lockdown, my friends were coping by making Dalgona coffee, baking, gardening and I wasn’t doing any of that stuff. It made me question myself to be honest. I wondered if something was wrong with me because I wasn’t being as productive as they were. I had work but aside from that, I was spending my time just watching Netflix, blog hopping or reading at times. 
I had to remind myself I wasn’t competing with any of them. I only needed to focus on me. You do you, as the saying goes.   

29. Love yourself

As cliche as it sounds, this is a really important lesson I learned. 
Growing up, I always thought I needed someone to be the one to see for me and to tell me just how wonderful I am as a person. I looked for validation somewhere else. I partly blame Jerry Maguire with his “You complete me” speech for putting such a notion in my head.😆 But yeah, it took some time to realize but I know now, one doesn’t need someone else to “complete” you. I complete me. Anyone else who may come along will just be the cherry on top. 
30. You can achieve any goal if you set your mind to it 

100% intention to reach 100% goal. 
31. And mini goals can help you achieve the bigger goal 

I’ve always been the type to set goals for myself. New Year’s Resolutions – you bet I made those. But I often got overwhelmed by the goals I had set for myself and I end up not achieving anything! 

Breaking down the goals into actionable plans per week or per month can help though! For instance, I always set a goal to lose weight and rock a flat tummy – if not abs. It’s true. I really want to! So finally I learned to create action plans. I signed up for the gym. I set days in the week when I would go and even made small changes to my eating habits. I even got myself a workout buddy to motivate me further. Oh yeah, I got a cute guy for a trainer too!😆 That last one’s just a bonus. I did lose weight and have even for a brief period of time, started to see that I have almost gotten rid of my excess tummy fats, on the way to that dream flat tummy! Unfortunately quarantine happened and now I’m back to square one.😅
32. It’s good to embrace openness 

And I mean this for things and for people. 
I love being in my comfort zone. It’s why I have go-to’s when it comes to food choices or places to stay at. But I’ve learned that it can be fun to trade that comfort for the unfamiliar. It literally opens doors to new experiences which can be new stories to tell in the future.  
And just like having go-to’s when it comes to places or food, I also like to either keep to myself or to the people I already know. I’m honestly not shy. I’m actually a snob! I feel like I have a don’t–talk-to-me expression on my face. Ha! Ha! 
But over the years though, I’ve began to lower down that wall barrier and allowed myself to meet new ones. And I have met some interesting people along the way and made friends too. 
Like who would have thought that by saying yes to an overnight stay at Pico de Loro, I would meet Alfred – the guy who can’t stop talking! So full of stories.😆 
Or Yum, the girl who likes to whip her hair in Jam class because she’s having a blast dancing would become a friend?  

33. When it comes to love and romance, it’s best to keep your head out of the clouds and your feet firmly planted on the ground
I am so much like Gigi in He’s Just Not that Into You. I get swept away at the idea of a possible romance. 
But I would say that the older I get, the more reasonable and realistic I become. I’ve learned quite a lot from all the failed romances and heartaches and from He’s Just Not That Into You. Yes really, that movie shared some really good tips on how to maneuver your way around this thing we call love. 
this movie ,this quote change my attitude ever!
34. Alone doesn’t mean lonely

I think John Mayer’s song, Perfectly Lonely describes it best. Nothing to do. Nowhere to be. A simple little kind of free. 
No one to hang out with? No date? No problem. I’ll hang with myself. I’ll date me. And it can be a fun thing to do since I get to do whatever I wanted.  
Still I do want to meet someone again someday and be in a healthy, loving and committed relationship. 
Hes Just Not That Into You Youre My Exception GIF ...
35. Embrace getting old. Treasure every birthday! 

Not everyone gets to grow old. So hell yes, cheers to 35! 
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As for my birthday wish, I really, really wish that one of those vaccines in clinical trials around the globe will become the cure to end this pandemic soon because I miss life! I miss the joys of just hanging out at a coffee shop, reading a book or working and dining out with friends. I miss the gym! I miss strolling and window shopping at the mall and dropping by the bookstore to check out new books! I miss travels! I miss being able to go out just because! I even miss going to the office. I miss deciding whether to walk all the way to the end of the street to ride a jeep there or ride one at the next corner or maybe walk all the way to the office because I can. I miss living a life without all this social/physical distancing, anxiety and fear over an unseen enemy.  
Most of all…
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But I know, I gotta keep being patient and responsible, not only for my own health and safety but my family’s too. I hope you are all safe and well also guys. Let us all hang in there. We’ll all see each other again!