8 Things I Learned Before Turning 38

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I will be thirty-eight in the year 2020. In the past, I would have planned to be married and have children, but things didn’t turn out the way I planned. Instead, it becomes another chapter, which I shouldn’t be ashamed of still learning because life is a journey, experience and experiment with it.

1. In life people come and go no matter how close the friendship/relationship is

I stopped communicating with two bosom friends. One of them since tertiary education approximately a decade ago. We skipped classes and making subtle pranks at classmates. She was with her late night humorous and encouraging texts, dragging me out to see the lights when my late-dad was diagnosed with third-stage cancer. The other I met through poetry writing. We connected instantly like a bolt.

Best of all, we both are Scorpios. I learned a lot about life through these two persons. Eventually, these fall apart due to differences. I sounded cold but it is mandatory to put myself first.

2. You can never help others if you did not firstly overflow your cup

Since I was young, I was taught to help others due to my responsibility as an only child. I rarely put myself first. Years had gone by, I always put my parents, friends, former boyfriend, and now at work; my colleagues above me. I will only cutting out social gatherings, take a breather and take a (full) rest when I was on sick leave, feeling lethargic or totally worn out.

This year I suffered two rounds of mind-blowing flu, and a stress related headache that often mistaken as migraine due to work overload. On the other hand, do cut others’ dramas (from your life) that are discouraging, physically, mentally, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually draining. People who need drama to flourish their life should look elsewhere louder, boisterous; into the swords and daggers rainforest.

3. Know who your friends are

We need different friends in different situation, but we don’t need sociopaths or narcissists to replenish our cup of Ying & Yang.

4. People will not change unless they wanted to

There is this feminist thing about (attempting) changing someone to show how motherly we are. The reason for me to change this person is for his own good. But I was too blind to take into consideration that he doesn’t wanted to (even for the better) because he has been living in such a ‘lifestyle’ he’s absolutely conformed so; no matter how many good will New Year’s resolution he’s made is to please the people who loved him.

I love how the saying goes: The person will only change for someone he/she loves. This is still debatable. And, hopefully the change is long term.

5. Turning negative aspects into positive challenges

This is not to turn a blind eye by neglecting, escaping the reality or to cover-up the situation we’re currently facing. But dealing it with strength and it is all about mind over matters. Usually will not be a perfect ending. However, the only way to survive without fear is the time we stood before the frontline dealing with the battle.

6. Widen your social circle

I was very close to a male friend since late December 2017. I enjoyed his ‘Good morning’ and ‘Good night’ texts. We‘ll be chatting from morning at work til the evening. We talk about everything under the sun. It becomes a ‘waiting habit’ whenever he doesn’t reply or may take a little longer than expected.

When the frustration kicks in, during certain period of time the suspicious rolling in, and the habit of checking the phone becomes contagious, that’s when my brain said I am losing myself. Hence, I decided to find new friends through other platforms. Since then, I’d built an adequate portfolio of friends to chat and hang out with.

7. You can never go back to your old self

Personally, if you’ve kicked off your old habits that had taken a whole load of negativity from your old self, let the baggage go and never to revisit. At one point, if you’ve forced to discard that old self due to self-defence mechanism, try finding its way back and then add-on with any motivational ingredients to make your life worth the fight.

8. Never stop growing because you’re human

We will continue to make mistakes and learn until the day our brain is drawing the distorted shape of white flag. Before we take the longest rest six feet under, motivate, be inspired, practice self-worth, self care and most of all we must really love ourselves.

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Deborah Wong is a poet and a storyteller hails from Kuala Lumpur. Her work has been published in Crack The Spine, Streetcake Magazine, East Jasmine Review, Eksentrika, Wherewithal, The Stray Branch, Thiscene, Ricepaper, Thought Catalog, Rat’s Ass Review, Seagery Zine, and In Real Life Malaysia. She’s currently working on a fictionalised memoir and collaborating with an Australian emerging abstract artist in an artwork-poetry crossover project . Check out her Instagram at @deborahbie.
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