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7 things I learned at 26

I am now officially 26 years old. Yesterday was my birthday. But what does that even mean? The earth revolved around the sun 26 times since I was born? I guess as I grow older every year I also get less sentimental and more realistic. This year, celebrations don't really matter much. I prefer spending the day in peace rather than in big crowd of people with a lot of small talks. I am bad at small talks. I am awkward and timid and don't know what to say.

This year and last year has been the most challenging and fruitful at the same time for me. I embarked on a new journey, alone, tried to do things out of my comfort zone even though I'm not good at managing my own emotions. Well, everyday is a chance to discover myself more isn't it?

Living here in this side of the world has taught me a lot, and at 26, here are some of the things I learned, others the hard way. These are also notes to myself that I'd like to always be reminded of.

1. Never take your health for granted.

I have neglected my health for the longest time thinking that I am invincible because I am young. I was anorexic in my late teens. I had really bad posture and sleeping habits. I never really thought much about my food intake, my exercise, not even my mental well-being. It all caught up to me this year and that's when I realised, our body is really our temple, no matter how cliche that sounds. I have been hospitalised numerous times and spent more than a thousand dollars in hospital bills and medication. In order for us to function properly and live the best versions of ourselves, it starts with good physical and mental health. 

2. There are some things in life that, no matter how hard you try, is just not for you.

I used to always believe that as long as you have the passion and drive, you can do anything! Like how I did in college. I wasn't a bright student, but I studied twice as much and persevered. I am always proud to say that I have earned two bachelors in four years because I worked so hard to get it. But in reality, there are some things that no matter how hard you try just isn't for you. You must know to weigh the pros and cons, if it's still worth it or not, and if there are alternatives that will make you  even a better person. Does it still make you happy? Or does it burden you more than it inspires you? You must know when to hold on and when to let go; and if you can't let it go, then it must be teaching you to be more patient and resilient.

3. The only competition you have is yourself.

I used to always pressure myself to achieve unrealistic goals, but when I take a step back and look at it, I ask myself, what for? Is it because I compare myself to everybody else? It is because the society expects so much from me? Is it because I am ashamed to not have something to brag about? Why am I even putting so much pressure on myself when the only goal I should have at the end of the day is to have a peace of mind and sleep well at night. Am I happy and contented? If yes, then I must be exactly where I'm supposed to be.

4. Sometimes, being too nice doesn't work.

If you are too nice to everybody, there will come a point in your life that you will get taken for granted. You must know when to be nice, and when to stand up for yourself. You cannot just always try to understand how everybody acts. You must also have a voice, and for as long as you know you are in reason, then go stand up for it.

5. Different people think differently.

You can't force someone to see things from your perspective. Everyone has their own identity, and you can't always expect them to agree to your narrative. Disagreements are inevitable. Always try to be open minded, and learn to agree to disagree.

6. Acknowledge your weaknesses and work around them.

The more you try to deny your weaknesses, the more they will haunt you. You must know how to acknowledge it, and remind yourself that it is not all that you are. Learn to work around it, manage how you react at certain situations, and master your own emotions.

7. The beauty in life is found in the simplest things.

There are times we feel stuck, stressed, overworked, and overthinking things. If you are in a dark place and can't find a silver lining, go outside and rediscover the beauty of life in simple things. Look at how the wind blows over the trees. Hear the sound of coffee pouring down to your cup. Smell the scent of newly washed linens. Open your window and let the sun shine to your face. Look up in the blue sky, and know that the world will keep moving for as long as you live. The simple things.


These are my thoughts as I turn 26. I am a bit nostalgic, but I am moving forward with light. Cheers to better days ahead.

With love,

PS. Took a break on my blog series schedule this week in lieu of my week long birthday hiatus. Thanks for sticking around!


  1. Dearest Ann,

    Belated Happy and Blessed birthday! I sincerely hope and pray for your protection, peace of mind, and good health as you move along and continue to live the crazy beautiful life you are gifted with. <3

    These are very beautiful and very relatable self-reflections at 26. The thing that resonates with me the most would be numbers 3 & 7. Ourselves would indeed be the strongest opponent in this lifetime, and we will never be safe from comparing ourselves to others. But it is simply by stepping back a bit and counting all the small and big gifts that you have that you realize that you are created beautifully and wonderfully. And you will always have a purpose in this world.

    Here's to life, more lessons, and adventures!

    Hanna /Heydays With Hanna

    1. Thanks Hannah! 💕 I agree with you, life will always be beautiful for as long as we decide to appreciate the beauty in it, even in simple things. Let's dwell less on our inner doubts and focus more on the blessings we have. Cheers to better days ahead!

  2. Woooop woop belated Happiest Birthday, Ann! :) I'm truly blessed to have met you in this online space this year. Thank you for all that you've shared with us, for being strong, for being open, and for your kind words.

    I love all your insights and realizations. #6 is indeed a truth; no one is perfect, and we're bound to make mistakes. But coming to terms with our weaknesses continues to be a humbling experience, and we ought to be kinder to ourselves and to just keep doing our best. We may not know it, but we're growing and maturing, and that's really something admirable.

    Have a lovely rest of your week. Love your photo as well, you are blooming !!

    Anna Jo |

    1. Thanks Anna! 💕 I am so happy I came across your blog too. You inspire me a lot, and remind me to always appreciate the simple things in life despite the mundane. We are indeed growing and maturing, and everyday is a new day to discover ourselves even more. Have a blessed week ahead :)

  3. Ann, this is so beautifully raw and honest for you to share. Points 1 and 2 spoke to me the most – I, in fact, think physical and mental health are the only things in this life we have to hold onto the strongest. They are, literally, what keeps us going! You've come so far and should celebrate this achievement. <3
    And yes also to #2, because letting go is such a key survival tactic that not enough people talk about. It's a very graceful thing to admit that some things are just not meant for us - so kudos to you on that.

    Happy belated birthday! xx

    Joanne | With Risa

    1. Thank you so much Jo! You are right, I've come this far and I am thankful and happy that I get to live my life with freedom and independence. Life has its ups and downs, and the more we are open and truthful about it the better it's going to be for us. Much love 💕


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