About 2-weeks ago, I celebrated my 27th birthday (I seriously had to pause for a second to remember my age). It feels like I just turned 24. I can't believe that was actually three years ago. *SIGH*
After realizing that I'm no longer in my early 20s, my mind got suddenly bombarded with all of the "should've", "would've", and "could've" thoughts. All the things that I wish I had done. The places that I wish I have gone to. The things that I wish I knew before I got into my late 20s.
1. Attend a community college first.
Back in high school, I had a group of friends who were a bunch of overachievers, straight A's, extracurricular takers, and just overall great students. So when it came to planning our post-high school activities, majority of us (yes, me included) were automatically drawn to attending a 4-year university. Most of us took our SATs at the same time, shared with each other which universities we're applying to, and celebrated together when we got our acceptance letters.
Five years later, I'm over 30K deep in student loans. So what does a 20-something do to pay all of that? Let's just say that craigslist, indeed, and my gmail account became part of my daily rituals. I searched for jobs-- day and night--for about a year or so. It took me, literally, 2-years before landing a job that paid enough to support me and all of my student loans plus other pesky monthly bills (car, rent, electric, food, etc). Sadly, it's been 4-years now since I finished my undergrad studies and I still haven't paid half, probably not even a quarter, of those stupid loans. I really wish I attended a community college first. Not only it was cheaper--much cheaper--than a university, I could have had more precious time with my family and I would have probably only accumulated a third of what I owed now.
2. Spend more quality time with my family.
When I was in college, I was only 30-minute (plane ride) away from my family. The air fare at that time was very affordable. In fact, a round trip ticket back then would only cost me $80. I could easily fly back home to Kauai, where my family lives, and back to Oahu for school.
Since my boyfriend at that time was still living on Kauai, I would go home on a weekend once a month to be with him. Although I was home, I rarely took the time to be with my family. Other than going to church on Sundays with them, most of the days, I'm with my ex. Frankly, up to this date, I can't recall a moment where I had the best time with my family during those years. The only ones that I remember are the arguments or misunderstandings between my parents and myself.
As I got older, I became more concern with the condition of my family, especially my parents. Whenever I feel like I need my mom or my dad, I'd suddenly get sad because I'm not physically with them, as it has been for almost 10-years. Back when my mom had cancer, I felt so helpless. Luckily, at that time, I was working for a small inter-island airline, so I was able to fly back-and-forth for free to see how my mom was doing. Then, when my dad developed arthritis in one of his knee, I had no idea it was so bad until I watched him work on one of his landscaping jobs. I was instantly flooded with guilt and sadness. I wish I had taken advantage of those times when I could've easily gone home and spend some quality times with them. All those times that I spent with other people, I wish I could get some of it back to have it with my family. I wish I knew then how much I would miss my family now.
3. Study for a career that I really want.
So when I went to college, other than partying, I also focused on what I thought would be an easy and fun job to get after I graduate. Since Hawaii's economy was heavily dependent on the hospitality industry, I thought I might as well major on that. Therefore, I graduated from the school of Travel Industry with focus in Hospitality Management. I ended up working for 3-different companies--all hospitality industry related. Despite the fact that I enjoyed meeting people from all walks of life, none of those jobs really felt like my calling. So altogether, I'd quit. I think it was just last year when I finally realized what career I really want. The only negative aspect of this is that I wish it came sooner, like while I was still doing my undergrad studies and before I used up 30K of student loans, the realization that I want to be a Physical Therapist. While all my friends are working happily with their initial chosen profession, I am back to ground zero. Yay me! -_-
4. Weights and protein shakes.
I'm not going to elaborate why I wish I'd known about this before. I merely want to emphasize that running long distance, not lifting more than 5-pounds of dumbbell, and disregarding a protein shake after a workout are not the only way of getting or keeping fit, especially for women. Although I'd actually known of this when I was 24, I'd like to say that at 27, I'm better informed of the benefits and the end-result of lifting weights and proteins. And yes, that's all based from real life experience, which I'll cover in another topic down the road. First, I need to get back up and work on my fitness, once and for all.
5. Save money for unexpected events.
When it comes to topic of money, I keep mum about it. I tend to ignore it rather than really think about how to set aside funds for any type of ventures or events.
So recently, I quit my full time job at a prestigious hotel and moved over 5000 miles to obtain my "calling" to become a Physical Therapist. Originally, I didn't know for sure when I will do the move. I wish I had really known how much money it involves to start a whole new life in a different city. Now that my so-called "savings" account is quickly dwindling, I become more and more stressed about money. I mean, I never worried about money this much in the past. To make matter worse, I'm living with my estranged brother with his wife and kids. I can't even afford to get my own place! I'm figuratively holding onto threads attempting to carefully budget the remaining dollars that I have.
6. Be cautious of "friendly" people.
According to various Psychological studies, there are several types of humans that one will encounter in life. (And yes, I just read that in my psych class.) I guess it's natural that we don't know who the person is until we truly get-to-know that certain individual. I can't say that I've met all types of human by now. But I wish I've known about those who I befriended before I even felt a tiny speculation that I'm just being used for their own benefit. Before I turned 27, I thought I knew enough about people's attitude or hidden agendas. I thought I had enough knowledge about how to deal with certain people. Clearly, I was wrong. Or I guess I just wished that I never had to deal with such inconsiderate and ungrateful people. Nevertheless, there are still people in my life who I consider friends, despite the fact that I'm miles away from all of them.
7. Travel as much and as far as I can.
Now that I'm a couple of years away from turning 30, I wish I realized back then how easier and cheaper it was to travel. I wish I took advantage of the time that I had and the money that I was making to play all over the world. I shouldn't have put too much of my energy and focus on having my own place when my parents asked me to go back home or when my boyfriend's family welcomed me into their home (free rent!) But because I had too much pride, I insisted on having my own place. Meaning, whatever money I made was spent on rent, utilities, and food rather than traveling. But at least I can actually say that I'm an independent adult, right!?
Nonetheless, I really wish I took the chance to be able to travel freely and not be afraid of odd circumstances. With my current financial situation, I don't think I'll be able to travel anytime soon. Plus, I'm constantly worrying about things that could or might happen when visiting other places. I know it has to do with the media; but who doesn't get scared of the thought of being kidnapped or trapped in a plane crash? I know, it's just all in my head. That's why if I was given the chance (and the money) to travel now, I'd be on it in a heart beat!