26 Things I Learned by 26


Happy Birthday to me! It’s been another year and I’m still alive and kicking. Last year I wrote a post reflecting on what I learned by age 25. To continue the introspection I’m looking back on what I learned and noticed during age 26. Needless to say a lot of events have happened some good, some bad. Either way life has been a well worth fun ride. I don’t have this post college/quarter-life crisis/meaning of life figured out, but I’m learning to be more content with the idea that we’re not supposed to have everything figured out because essentially that’s the paradoxical purpose of life. We learn, we grow, and eventually we’ll go underground somewhere with the worms and bugs. Or maybe in a vase.

Here’s to 26!

1. I am closer to my 30s than my 20s now.

I’m also not alone here. You, dear reader, are also getting older. Hah I’m not going down alone!


2. People still don’t have their sh*t together.

Although at this point everyone seems to be moving on to that next stage in life i.e. Getting married or popping out a tiny human there are plenty of other still figuring it out. We just don’t hear about them because they’re not broadcasting their current status online.


3. I really like traveling.

No explanation needed.


4. Make time to read actual content –not that fluff material.

Fluff material is such a waste of time.


5. Check your sources everyone can be anyone these days

The Internet is awesome place for democracy, but when anyone can publish anything it’s frightening to know that a false statement online can have a real world impact.


6. Stop complaining.

Instead do something to change the situation. However if you can’t change the situation change yourself.


7. Follow your heart –unless it leads you into a pit of spikes. Make a calculated risk then jump!

There’s so much being said nowadays about following your heart, but that’s a privileged thought. Not everyone can drop everything and then go jump. Some have others depending on them or underlying health concerns. Be responsible first, then take the leap.


8. Everyone starts their day by putting one their pants one leg at a time and everyone poops!

No one is on a pedestal, so stop comparing yourself.


9. You have two eyes, two ears, and one mouth and you should use them accordingly.

In a world where everyone proclaims what they’re currently eating, who they’re wearing, and what witty, social situation they’re currently in –we should shut broadcasting for a moment to listen and observe.


10. Go to bed before anyone else and wake up before anyone else.

Somehow this will make you more productive and your skin will look amazing.


11. Don’t be an asshole.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”― Maya Angelou


12. Think of “No” as “Not Yet.”

Except in regards to consenting to sexual advances. Then it really means “no.” Otherwise if you get rejected from a job or other opportunities instead of thinking of it as a flat-out gtfo maybe you’re just not ready for it just yet.


13. If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

I came across this African proverb while I was training for a marathon back in January. I believe it also applies to life in general.


14. Photographers, take more photos of people with you in them!

I have zero photos of myself from high school because I was always taking photos of everyone else. Where did my memories go?


15. Tomboys, it’s fun to dress up.

Embrace yourself and be sexy!


16. Healthy mind, healthy body.

The two go hand in hand. I’m mostly happy-go-lucky majority of the time because I’m constantly running or going up a mountain. Unleash the endorphins flood gates!


17. You’re doing just fine.

Whatever situation you’re in it could always be worse.


18. Be grateful for the small, unnoticed and uncontrollable blessings.

For instance I was born on the west coast to a loving family who prided themselves on working hard and education. I lucked out in the generic lottery there!


19. Learning has to be self-initiated.

After grade school and college is done no one is going to spoon feed you knowledge. You have to want to learn and take the necessary steps needed to learn and new subject.


20. “How green your lawn is” says a lot about you in Southern California.

Green = the haves/Greedy. Yellow and patchy = Have nots/Environmentally Conscious. Umm let’s save water.

21. Any thought that doesn’t result in action is a useless thought.

Motivational quotes and reading self-help books are good and all, but if they don’t motivate you to actually take action and do something they were pretty much useless from the start then.


22. Resourcefulness triumphs all.

Being able to adapt to any situation with whatever tools you have on hand to yield a desire result will take you places. For instance before I was photographing people like Manny Pacquiao in studio, I was shooting out of my family’s garage and empty parking structures [Looking Back at Having No Studio.]


23. You build relationships by speaking the other person’s language.

–And this doesn’t just apply to traditional oral languages. Facebook Messenger, Kakao, WhatsApp, GChat and other similar programs are languages! I’ve forged friendships over these messenger apps simply because it was what the other person used to communicate. Similarly I’ve lost relationships over messaging apps. For instance when AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) finally died I lost contact with a lot of friends who didn’t migrate to the same messaging platform as me.

24. Consistently ask yourself “why?”

If you’re able to answer your own “why” questions then you should be able to thoroughly explain to someone else why you do x, y, and z. For me I’m constantly asking myself “why do I do photography?” It’s not because I want to make images. My answer is that I enjoy connecting with different people, telling stories, and inspiring others to do something positive with their lives. Photography happens to be the medium that let’s me do all the above and as a bonus I happen to enjoy the medium enough to motivate me to work towards being great at it.

For further reading check out Simon Sinek’s Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.


25. If you don’t use it, you lose it.

This goes for anything. If I don’t take photos every day my photos will start slacking. If I don’t consciously read, watch, do consume something that tickles the left side of my brain I might begin that slump into making poor decisions. If I don’t practice patience and kindness everyday I turn into an evil, monster.

 For the immature reader, get your mind out of the gutter!


26. Work hard, stay humble.

Keep working hard. Keep failing. Keep picking yourself up until you’ve reached your goals. Once you get there don’t rub it into others’ faces. Instead help others achieve their goals.



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1 Comment

  • I don’t know if anyone ever have their stuff together. We make considered efforts and concessions along the way. #13 also resonated w me, one of those things u think about as u get older and have to make conscious effort to keep people as part of your life.

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