21 Things I’ve Learned In 21 Years

d3a5376fb81beec6def2d7d479e1d63b.jpgAs each year goes by, we can reflect on how much we’ve grown as a person and the lessons we learned. Although the title mentions what I’ve learned in 21 years, I believe that these are aspects that we learn through different stages of our lives, and some may be lessons that we continuously learn from each day. Maturity can’t be defined by an age, but as each passing year goes by, I hope I have become a little wiser and a little kinder than the year before.

1) Surround yourself with good people. At this stage of my life, I no longer waste any time with people that will drain energy or pour negativity into my life. Those were lessons that I learned during my teenage years. Surround yourself with people who are intelligent, kind hearted, hard working and perhaps have a similar humour with you. You bounce off each other’s energy and help each other grow.

2) Life is unpredictable. It’s important to plan ahead and set goals that you’d like to achieve. In terms of decisions in life or situations, sometimes they can change last minute, or sometimes we change over time and no longer feel our heart is in it to do certain things we were once passionate about. It’s okay, because life is unpredictable.We go through those experiences to learn something from them.

3) True beauty comes from your heart.  No matter how much I may love fashion and beauty, beauty that is eternal is the one from your heart. It’s the kind that radiates when you’re 5 years old and 95 years old. It’s that true part of ourselves that is selfless, loving and kind. No one wants to be surrounded by a person with an ugly heart.

4) Don’t judge a book by its cover. It’s easy to skim over a cover of a book and make quick assumptions. However, we do this with people as well. It’s natural to make assumptions about someone from what they wear and how they present themselves. We don’t truly know a person until we spend the time to get to know them, and even then, everyone goes through their own experiences.

5) Listen more than you speak.  This isn’t to say talk less, but a simple reminder to listen more and to listen to different opinions and keep an open mind. It means being able to listen to different views even if you don’t agree with them, and it also means being a listener to someone in a time of need. With all the noise in the world, sometimes we don’t listen as best as we could, but listening may show that we care or we want to understand

6) Do things that make you happy.  It’s funny how much we may stop ourselves from doing things that make us feel happy. It’s easy if you go through a bad period for it to constantly feed off the negative energy, and grow and grow until you feel that you don’t deserve to enjoy life. What’s life without doing things that make us happy?

7) Love yourself before you love others. When you accept who you are as a person, you can be accepting, non-judgmental, loving and be caring towards other people. You have more tolerance and are more grounded in who you are, rather than insecure and judgmental towards others.

8) Grow and learn from mistakes.  Everyone makes mistakes. No matter how bad they may seem at the time, we can choose to grow and learn from those mistakes. They remind us how to face a situation better the next time, or they give us an opportunity to decide what we want to change about ourselves.

9) Noone’s life is perfect.  It doesn’t matter how picture perfect someone’s life may look online or offline, nobody’s life is perfect. Everyone has something that makes them laugh, cry, feel angry, upset and frustrated. We are all meant to live our own life and not the lives of anyone else.

10) You only need a handful of people in your life. Quality of relationships is far more important than a number of people you have in your life. The handful of people in your life are the ones you can trust and know that they will be there for you in a time of need. This also ties into the lesson that it’s important to spend quality time with yourself.

11) Food can affect your mood. Plus, it can affect your health. Eat healthily and drink enough water. When we fuel our body well, we feel ready for the day and we feel far more energy. What you feed into your body affects your mind as well.

12) Take care of your skin. Skincare is so important. Always wear sunscreen everyday, even on cloudy days or during winter time. Use products that are effective and work for you. Your skin is the largest organ of your body.

13) The most important people are your family. Family will always be family. That’s a kind of love that is different to any kind of friendship love. It’s the kind where everyone has seen each other at their highest and lowest. The simple things from what annoy one another to what makes one another smile.

14) We can’t be friends with everyone. It’s important to be kind to people, but we can’t be good friends with everyone. There are certain people we will click and have that connection with over other people, and that’s completely natural. Even though it’s important to be kind, if you feel there are toxic people entering into your life, it’s important to distance yourself.

15) Your values affect your lifestyle. Throughout my teenage years I was always very stubborn in the sense that I refused to conform to what everyone else was doing. My first year of uni at 16, meant that I just didn’t see the point of getting drunk and partying. What you value in life shapes who you are as a person, and then you can attract people with similar values into your life.

16) What you think you become. When you feed thoughts into your mind, there’s a strong feeling towards them. Sometimes they can be full of truth and other times they aren’t true. We can be more harsh and critical towards ourselves than to anyone else. Being kind and having positive self-talk will reflect how you treat others.

17) You’ll never regret being yourself. The wise words once told to me to just be yourself are golden words. Similar to 14) if we be ourselves, then we can attract the right friends into our lives. We can attract the people that appreciate who we are, rather than changing ourselves to fit in.

18) Dont’ be afraid to fail. Success is a result of battling through many failures and staying persistent and consistently learning, growing and improving. If you’re afraid to fail, then you’re afraid to try. Those who have always tried (such as athletes and musician) and don’t give up are the ones who create their own success.

19) Dreams can change. Remember when you were a child, and you were asked: “What do you want to become when you grow up?” I’m sure some of us had a long list of what they wanted to be. Over the years, my dreams have changed quite incredibly, and that’s okay.

20) Never be too hard on yourself. As much as we should strive for self-improvement, don’t be so hard on yourself that you push yourself downwards. If you’re too hard on yourself there won’t be any room to go upwards.

21) A smile comes from the inside. Be genuine with how you feel. I always feel a silent frustration when people pretend to be a certain way with certain people, but then you know that you wouldn’t want to be that way. A smile comes from within.

Art by Yelena Bryksenkova

What I’ve Learned From Living With My Boyfriend

6a0120a5f0e3de970c013480aac562970c.jpgLiving in Sydney was a different experience to what I was used to, as a country girl at heart. Although, I’d previously lived in central city in Auckland for two years, it’s always been a big little city to me. Being able to live with your other half is so wonderful, especially for those who have been in a long distance relationship. You may of heard that sometimes living with a friend can make or break the relationship, because people can sometimes be different to live with than to hang out with. Then there’s each of us with different habits, ways of living and doing different things in our spare time. Everyone will have their moments of ups and downs, but communication is definitely key when living with anybody.

We have our specific side of the bed. Did this ever happen when you were at home, and somehow you’d always have a specific seat you sat at the dinner table, the special cup you’d use and the seat in the lounge area? I think it’s something that’s done out of habit.

Long days are worth it when you can come home. No matter if you have a good or bad day, it’s a sweet feeling knowing you can go home and give your loved one a hug and a kiss. You can talk about what you both did during the day, and share any exciting stories.

Home is where we can be completely ourselves. As much as we should always be ourselves, when you’re at home, it’s your private space to be as loose, silly, talkative, sleepy and tired and just be completely yourself. You can wear your sweatpants all day, dance around and sing in the shower without a care.

Conversations and silences are both important. To be able to be with a friend or a partner where you can cherish the silences with ease, is something precious in a noisy world. When you can be completely comfortable with having nothing to say, and listen to one another when you do speak, that’s something.

Compromise is important to learn. Being able to both compromise is important, if one or the other person wants to do something. Thinking of the other person and being considerate should be in any relationship. No one will always agree on everything, but being able to come to an agreement for certain things is sometimes needed.

You will both have your own habits. I feel like everyone has their own little interesting habits. When you live with someone, that’s when you really notice them. For example, I spend a long time brushing my teeth, and I have to pick up my hairs off the floor after drying it.

Developing couple language is the norm. If you spend a lot of time talking with one another, it’s natural to start making up words or developing your own language. There are certain words you might replace, or use only in public.

We spend time to do our own thing. If you think of when you lived with your family, then you know that everyone usually does their own thing. Space is important. It’s mostly when you go out that you make quality time to spend together. At home, it’s the simple things like cooking, watching a movie or talking.

Art by Marta Antelo


Things I’ve Learned From A Long Distance Relationship

jimin-yoon9-550x778.jpgMy experience of LDR’s started when I was in a 2 year long distance relationship out of the 4 years, and now Mr Penguin and I are back into long distance. It’s going to be really hard at times, and the things that can make it work out include: keeping yourself busy, having strong trust and communication, being honest, staying true to yourselves, keeping the love and accepting that it will be difficult at times. As someone who sees some of my family once a year, it can be comforting to think of it that way. In the sense that you won’t see your other half often, but you can count down to the moment you do see them.

Communication and trust is everything. Having a well balanced level of communication is key for any relationship. It’s important to voice out your honest feelings, tell each other about your week and talk the way you would if you were in person. The moment we lose touch with a friend, is often the moment we drift apart from them. Having trust means that we don’t worry or predict anything negative to happen, but we have confidence in one another.

It’s important to both have your own routine. Relationships are a significant aspect of our lives, but the relationship we have with ourselves and others are also important. You will both spend a lot of time interacting with different people, which can be good to have that way of finding your own feet and walk your own journey. It makes you both more secure in yourself and not rely on one another so much.

Misunderstandings are much more easily resolved in person. Through online, things can be misinterpreted or not as easily expressed compared to in person. You don’t have the physical element of seeing someones actions, body language and facial expressions. This is one of the hard parts of LDR’s, but it also means that you are willing to use that time to clear any misunderstandings, rather than letting them bottle up.

You will miss the physical element. The simple act of a hug, holding hands, walking side by side, laughing together and watching a movie. The physical part of a relationship is one of the instant expression of your affection to one another. The pro in distance is that your emotional connection will be more expressed, but the con is that you often miss the feeling of their touch.

There will be hard times to go through. Many people will tell you that it’s hard when you mention long distance. There’s no way of putting it lightly, but they’re right, it is. As much as you know that already, there will be moments where you both are trying to figure out how to make it work. You might go through the hard times, by figuring out a plan and staying positive.

If it’s meant to be, then it will work out. Life is unpredictable, but I think that if things are meant to be, it works out for the best. Everything happens for a reason. Think of the moments you worry about something, but somehow it always works out. If you know you are compatible and love one another deeply, then you will put in the effort to make it work.

You need to be realistic about the future. If the distance is going to be inconsistent and unpredictable, then it can feel like it will never end. If you don’t know when you can be finally together, it can make one feel doubtful. However, if you can both work towards a goal and make promises that are realistic, it can be motivating. Perhaps it might be a year distance or 5 years distance. The best thing about a time frame, is that you can plan for it.

You may do things you wouldn’t normally do if you were in person. You might write snail mail to one another, send little gifts or go out of your way to do things you may not usually do so. When we meet people in person, we don’t think about needing to be consistent in keeping in touch. However, with distance you often have skype chats to keep each other up to date.

It can make you emotionally stronger. Long distance is worth it in the long run, if you can imagine this person in your future. It makes you stronger in the sense that you know you can go through it together. You become more patient and understanding, and are willing to wait until the day you can finally be reunited.


Art by Ji min Yoon | Photo: My first day in Sydney :)