New? Start Here

“New? Start Here”, three amazing words most young adults would love to here, as soon as they walk across the stage with their diploma in hand. At least, that’s what one of my friends and I were talking about yesterday. There is so much to know about adulthood but there are very few lessons given, very few templates available and worse, we’re not supposed to talk about it, nor share anxieties about not wanting to make mistakes but not knowing how to avoid them.

Allow me to dream for a minute. What if there’s a website you could be sent to, the day after graduation that would say something along the lines of, “Welcome to adulthood. To get started, click here” and there would be a red button that read, “New? Start Here”. When you click on it, it would take you to a page with the following list of items to follow and check off as you complete them:

  • Connect with a community group based on interest and level of “expertise”, because let’s face it, we all arrive at adulthood and maturity at different times. You could join the “Struggling and Floundering” group, the “Ambitious and Ready to Fly” group or the “I’m Not Struggling As Much Anymore but I Need A Plan” group”. They would each have their forums, twitter accounts and closed Facebook groups.
  • Download the app that would send reminders to your phone throughout the year about the big “adult” things you should worry about like getting health insurance, putting reminders in your phone about bill due dates and when to call your parents. You could also download templates like the “Simplest Money Tracker” and “Questions to Ask Your Doctor Checklist”.
  • Log into your personalized account to keep daily/weekly/monthly records of things you’re learning and things you want to remember for next time


There would even be a FAQ page (!) with various headings like “Money”, “Renewing Your relationship with your money, oops, I mean, parents” and “Take Charge of Your Health”.

Yes, I’m dreaming. There’s no such thing but I find comfort in the words of Mike Martin, the co-host of the popular Youtube channel, How to Adult: “Once you become an adult, Life is a do-it-yourself project. With no manual and much assembly required. You create the structures of your own life, which is scary and also wonderful.” It’s not that there’s not enough information out there on these subjects. There’s a LOT. Like, A LOT! But, there’s the question of where to start. Most of the time, figuring out how to “adult” is like trying to catch a ball with greased hands; it can take awhile and can be full of false starts. Yet, the satisfaction that comes out of having figured out a piece of the puzzle is immense.

For continuous learners, it can also be source of joy because there is always something new to experiment with, test, learn or re-learn. And for the “Struggling and Floundering” group, take comfort in these 4 powerful words: “You. Are. Not. Alone”.


February Favorites

Here are some of the things I’ve really enjoyed this month.

1. One of my goals this year is to read 30 books. One of the books I’ve enjoyed so far is Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. I love the connection she draws often between spirituality and creativity. It’s weighty but I can’t bring myself to put it down. It’s reflection-driven which means it’s taking a while to get through, but the questions it prompt are great ways to challenge one’s own assumptions and slowly re-awaken dreams that may have been lying dormant.


I know that some people use it as a creativity-unblocking tool, taking a few months to go through, chapter by chapter. I may do that as some point, but for now, I’m enjoying the book as a way to nurture my creativity.

2. One of my new favorite podcasts is Cinephilia Anonymous. Two guys who are into gaming talk about the movies they like. That does not sound like the premise for a podcast I’d be into, but I was wrong. Their intuitive side shows in the way they get deep into whatever movie they discuss, whether it be Inception or Clueless. Their enthusiasm is palpable and contagious.


I find myself wanting to watch or re-watch the movies they’ve talked about, so that I can re-listen to the episodes and enjoy them even more. Definitely a favorite right now.

3. Another one of my goals this year is to learn 30 vegan recipes. Right now, curried vegetables is delicious!


February was the month of Love, I decided. Even as a single person who can count her involvement in romantic relationships on one hand, Valentine’s Day is my second favorite holiday of the year. That took years to admit to myself and to fully accept. I’ve spent years on both sides of this holiday. I’ve looked forward to it with high expectations and been disappointed and I’ve spent the day bitter, resentful of people celebrating their love via sentimental posts on Facebook.

Now, I love it. For me, Valentine’s Day is a chance to slow down during a very cold season, to notice and appreciate those around us.

So, I decided that one day would not be enough for Love this year. I decided that I would start on the first day of the month and celebrate till the red day: V-day! I came up with a plan that would include self-care and a chance to connect with those around me. It turned out to be a great idea:

1. I took the time during those 14 days to reconnect with friends I hadn’t talked to in a while.

2. I indulged in my favorite foods including chocolate and practiced yoga and journaling.

3. I surprised my parents with a celebration of their 30th wedding anniversary, complete with flowers and cake.

4. I connected with people who have been married for at least 1 year, 5 years and over 10 years and asked them two simple questions: things they wished they knew before getting married and advice they would give to a single person before they entered a relationship. I received so many insightful comments (that I’ll develop into a series later).

5. I attended a Galentine’s day party with friends, complete with a viewing of  the movie Bridesmaids (so relevant!) and a cookie decorating session.

Overall, it was a good way to find joy in February, a month that can sometimes be characterized as a series of gray, cold and miserable days.

Even after February 14, I carried that spirit with me throughout February, reminding myself to express gratitude directly to the people I’m thankful for, and doing my best to infuse every day with a little bit of self-care.

Here’s a playlist I made to get into the mood for the Month of Love because there’s nothing that says celebration like a good playlist 🙂

In which I find refuge in (the possibility of) adventure

I used to resent my Introverted Feeling. It’s the part of me that holds things in, thinks them over, rethinks them over, mull them over some more and makes some type of judgment about them. I used to see it as the source of melancholy and pessimism about life. It’s funny that people related to me know that every time I start a sentence with “I’ve been thinking”, it’s not going to end well.

Yet, I can’t completely reject it because it’s also the source of my convictions. It’s the part of me that turns the quiet, (seemingly) laid-back person into a crusader, an advocate, a spokesperson. It keeps me pushing and keeps reminding me to “do the right thing”. I just have to remember not to rely on it too much after 9pm.

It’s true. There’s not a lot of positive things that come from (over-) reflecting on things on it. There’s a lot of sighing, a lot of sad, sad music, maybe some tears and some cringe-worthy journaling sessions. I’ve been looking from some relief from this for a while. I think I’ve found it.

Extroverted Intuition. The ability to turn anything into an adventure, to see multiple opportunities in anything and a source of creativity and positive problem-solving. At night, it could be the quest for the perfect song, it could be ideas for new projects or lists of new ways to do old things. Sometimes, these ventures into “happy-land” last a long time and sometimes they don’t. The best thing, though, is that it’s almost meditative. I always come out with a different way to think about the issue(s) I’m working on or dealing with.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, this link about functions may help.

Compassion for the little one: Why I’m giving my younger self a break

I was having a conversation with my aunt the other day and it suddenly took a turn for the worst. I’m kidding. We somehow ended up talking about the future and that can be the worst or the best, depending on the day. She talked about the importance of having one’s own family someday and I replied with my negative views on having and raising children. My reason? “I was a horrible child, auntie! Don’t you remember? I was the worrrsst! I don’t think I’d be able to go through what I put Mom and Dad through. I tell you, those people are saints!”

I don’t remember how the conversation ended, but hours later, the words still rang in my ear: “I was a horrible child!” It’s true I was a very sensitive child. I was often moody, brooding over all the things that were wrong in the world, in my life, in my mind. I was very idealistic and therefore was disappointed very often. I had my head in the clouds and lost things frequently. I was calm but my emotional outbursts seemed to be explosive (and memorable) and I was as stubborn as they come. Years later, I would only come to look at that period in my life through the lens of an observer, a critical observer. I found compassion for my parents and all the people who took part in raising me and all I could focus on was the pain I caused them. 

I concluded, therefore, that I was a horrible child and I would not, in the future, subject the world to a replica of that…of me.  

Hours after that conversation though, the words I spoke seemed to burn a hole through my chest. Horrible child? The worst? The younger version of me had issues, but…she’s a survivor. 

She survived trauma quietly, silently for decades and taught herself to be resilient. She worked hard in school and was often at the top of her class. She was an amazing storyteller, weaving together fiction and real life into tales that held entire classrooms captivated. She had the confidence to speak and perform in front of a crowd, a gift many of her peers did not possess. 

I’m proud of her. 

They say that every few years, we become someone else. I’m not sure they’re wrong. I know in ten or twenty years from now, I’ll look back at the 26-year old version of me and I’ll be tempted to hold her in contempt, disappointed in her for all the opportunities she missed and ashamed at all the mistakes she made.Yet, I hope that I can also remember all the things that this version has survived and give her a break. 

The List

One of my favorite blogs is The Minimal Student.Even though, she doesn’t update often, it’s fun to go back through the archives and read all the interesting posts introducing or encouraging young people to consider minimalism. She’ has a bucket list of sorts on her website. It inspired me to write my own.

Before I die…

I want to:

1. write books

2. get a masseuse qualification

3. speak at schools and universities

4. work with an international non-profit

5. work with university students

6. host a dinner party

7. lead a retreat

8. be a contributing writer to a magazine

9. speak at a conference like TED

10. be a guest on a podcast

11. volunteer at an outdoor event

I want to explore…

1. Toronto

2. Vancouver BC

3. Mexico City

4. Seoul

5. Paris

6. San Francisco

7. Mumbai

8. Albuquerque

9. Sidney

10. Dakar

11. Portland

12. Seattle

I want to learn:

1. Spanish

2. Korean

3. Arabic

4. how to ride a bike

5. how to cook

6. how to play guitar

7. how to write a song

8. how to write a story

9. how to give a speech

10. how to paint

11. how to edit videos

12. how to sew a skirt

13. how to knit

I almost got hung up on writing the “perfect list”, worried about missing an item or writing something I would later not want. Then, I reminded myself that this list is revisable.

It’s amazing what happens when you remind yourself that you don’t have to always want what you want now.

Life decisions are revisable. 

Photo via



It’s okay to regret things.

From time to time, my mind wanders back to conversations that, for one reason or another, led to an epiphany, or at least to me seeing things (or myself) in a new light. I was thinking the other day about the night, in college, I walked around the cemetery with this guy I was kinda sorta into and that I was kinda sorta going out with. It was one of those long nights you could make a movie out of (and someone did). Before you get too horrified, the cemetery wasn’t the planned destination of this walk. It just happened to be there. Also, this story isn’t about that walk. 

This story is about what he said when I pressed him to tell me about what things I should fix about myself (By the way, college self (and future self), that is ALWAYS the wrong question to ask someone, anyone). He said, “Well, you’re great, but…you kinda don’t do anything.” I was taken aback but I wasn’t shocked. I lived in the world of ideas in college. I was more about exposing myself to big ideas than about creating experiential memories. Not a lot has changed since then. 

As I was reflecting recently on this, I realized that my reticence to “doing things” has always been this motto, or mantra, or expression: NO REGRETS. Regrets always seemed to be the worst thing you could have. For me, it shows a lack of forethought, a lack of wisdom. I know what you’re thinking. There’s a reason why people say “hindsight is 20/20”, Mak. No one can really know the future, Mak. I know, I hear you. You’re right. 

Yet, there’s a part of me that wants to ALWAYS make the RIGHT decision. Maybe, it’s because I’m an older sister. Maybe, it’s because I’m a people pleaser. Maybe, it’s because I’m a perfectionist. It doesn’t matter. This has unconsciously been part of me for so long that it has colored my decision-making process. So, because no one can know the future and the outcome can’t really be known until the action is carried out, I hesitate. I stop. Maybe, because I think that, as long as I don’t make a choice, I won’t make the wrong choice. 

Recently though, freedom came. Respite came from the tyranny of “No regrets”. At least from my interpretation of “No regrets”. It’s okay to regret things. It’s okay to make a choice without having 100% of the information (whoever has?), come face-to-face with an outcome you weren’t expecting and deal with it accordingly: “I regret this. Can I change this? Yes, what steps can I take? No, I can’t change this. Okay, What steps can I take to accept this?”

Nope. Not me, Edith Piaf. I’m okay with regretting some things.

It’s okay to regret things. 

I feel more mature already.