28 Things I Learned by 28

life lessons, 28 things i learned by 28

Happy Birthday to me again! As my friend puts it this is the one time a year when my future, past, and present selves align. Meaning that this is when who I am currently, who I want to be, and who I was hits home. It’s a good time to reflect and meditate over where to go next. The last year was a challenge for me in regards to emotional intelligence and self-care. As it turns you’ll burn out being an emotionless workaholic robot. Sooner or later you’ll have to learn to grow with your emotions and take care of yourself for self-preservation. As always I’d like to share what I learned for personal documentation and in hopes that a reader could vicariously learn from me. Here’s 28 things I learned in 28 years, wow 30 is creeping up on me quick.


1. Things Look A Lot Better Online

Don’t buy into the online fantasy of other people’s lives on social media. They’re all lies! –Sort of. The online platform has become a place where people put their best foot forward. Don’t compare your life to theirs and don’t idolize someone else’s achievements or materials. This applies to myself as well. For instance, while I’m supposedly having the time of my life while backpacking around Asia right now, I’ve actually contracted traveler’s sickness, been bedridden for the last 2 days, and am resisting the urge to scratch mosquito bites. Super fun!


2. Empathy is the Cornerstone of Design

No matter which industry you’re working in or how talented you are, empathy is essential because it allows you to relate to others.


3. Say No Often

I will let Lady Gaga speak for this one.


4. Choice is a Privilege

There’s a lot to complain about in this world. However, if you’re reading this on a mobile device, computer, or something that has a suitable internet connection then you most likely have the power of choice. There’s plenty of things I could complain about on a daily basis, but you won’t find me complaining because I recognize that I made the choice to be in the situation that I’m in. Therefore I should be grateful for where I’m at now and for everything I have. For instance there are plenty of things to complain about traveling around Los Angeles (traffic, parking, bad drivers …I can go on all day,) but simultaneously I made the decision to move to LA where everything I need is only a drive away. That’s not so bad when you think about it.


5. You Cannot Ignore Politics

Sooner or later politics will start to affect your life. You’ll have to start paying attention to them and then take action. Go out and vote!

And in the event that you don’t/can’t vote, consider the notion that you vote with your dollar. What we spend our hard-earned cash on is a vote on what values drive the production choices of the market of goods and services. If you don’t go out and vote, then at least vote with your dollar.


6. The Grass is Greener On the Side that Gets Watered


Meaning you have nurture anything and everything that you want to grow and see succeed. You want to be a brilliant photographer? Start studying light and learn a camera’s mechanics. You want to feel more connected with your friends? Start reaching out more. You want a long term boyfriend/girlfriend? Start dating more.


7. Embarrassment Over Regret

I’d rather suffer the embarrassment of doing something out of my comfort zone than being sentence to a limbo of regret from not trying and being afraid.


8. Embrace the Ambiguous

It’s widely known and understood that life is not linear and doesn’t have a direct path to anything. My overly analytic brain in the past would try to compensate the situation by developing multiple plans to solve all probable outcomes. While this made me a well-prepared person it also made me an anxious and exhausted person. I’ve learned to embrace have zero plans and welcoming the unknown. It’s nice to have surprises sometimes.



“Your mileage may vary.” A little catchphrase that my hiking friends over at Chasing Horizons said a lot while on trail. It’s also something that I took to be applicable to everyday life. You might think that your own personal methodology is the right and only way to do something, but in actuality you’ve just found the best way that works for you. People are different ways of approaching and solving problems.


10. The Human Body is Quite Resilient

In the last year I’ve been able to push myself to climb over 14,000 ft in elevation and go into below freezing temperatures while carrying a 40-60lb pack. I’m now pushing myself through monsoon season in Southeast Asia and dude, it’s humid out here.


11. Kindness is the Universal Language

Kindness may not always yield desired results, but I can guarantee that you’ll never regret being kind to someone.


12. Start Taking Care of Your Skin

Since moving to New Zealand, where I’m exposed to a giant hole in the ozone layer, I’ve become very cautious of my skin. Sun block, moisturizers, varies natural oils, toners, etc. I swear that I’m constructing a modern-day fountain of youth from all these skin care products. I didn’t realize the extent that sun exposure could affect your skin. One evening I discovered a little line forming between my eye brows, a wrinkle?! I instantly went into attack mode with a Vitamin C serum.

It’s impossible to stop the aging process and I fully embrace the process, but this also doesn’t mean that I can slow it down.


13. Read Every Day

Reading gives you power.


14. You Don’t Need to Make Every Single Idea You Have

I’m borrowing this idea from Paulo Coelho (14:33 from the Tim Ferriss Podcast http://tim.blog/2016/04/23/paulo-coelho-the-alchemist/) who keeps a notebook by his bed to write down all his idea that come through his ideas. He writes them down to get them out of his head, afterwards he doesn’t nothing with these ides because he finds them useless. For him under all the layers of ideas is the book that wants to be written. If he were to write every idea it would result in a cycle of starting one book, a second one, and then another one none would be finished.


15. People Will Treat You Differently Based off Preconceived Notions

There are people around the world that will treat you differently depending upon whether they view you as pretty, famous, wealthy, or of some other form of status. There are also people who will treat an entire gender, race, or nationality differently as well.


16. Conscious Appreciation for the Moments is a MUST!

Actively being grateful and appreciative for the moments, good and bad, is what makes us feel alive!


17. Challenge Yourself by Leaving Home

Want to test yourself as a person? Drop everything that was conveniently handed to you due to your place of origin. Leave your friends, family, material possessions, start anew, then come back. Earlier this year I left home and moved to New Zealand.

I’m currently working on the “come back” part. I’ll update you in a year with what I learned when I returned home.


18. Home is No Longer “Home”

The idea of “home” changes with age. That place you grew up in will physically change, the people will change, and eventually it will become an intangible place you can only visit within your memories.


19. Homesickness Comes in Waves and It’s Ok

Speaking of “home,” I experience being homesick every so often. And when it hits, it hits. I’ll be perfectly fine hanging out with myself and then a trigger will go off that results in a rush of emotions. It could be something monotonous as seeing a particular car whizzing pass me on the road that also happens to be the same vehicle that my friend back home drives or something as simple as a song on the radio.


19. Put the Camera Away!

Sometimes life is better experienced through your own senses rather than through a lens.


20. Some Solid Advice from a Friend Who Climbs Mountains:

“Work hard, be nice. There will be days you feel like a superhero. There will be days when you are having a hard time carrying your own weight. Be patient with yourself. Be patient with your teammates who are going through the same thing. Be the first person to step up and help a teammate out. They will reciprocate, probably. If they don’t, that’s fine. The mountain will not be nicer to you if you are nicer to your teammates. But I promise you will feel better about standing on top (if you have the opportunity) because you know you got there while helping others, whether they “deserved it” or not. Don’t get too hung up on that.”


21. Less is More

After moving from Los Angeles to New Zealand and then deciding to embark a backpacking trip through Asia, I’ve discovered that you really don’t need a lot.  In the long run it’s better and more sustainable to pay more upfront by investing in quality items over cheaper items. You’d end up spending a lot more in the long run by purchasing cheaper items that would need constant replacements.


22. Failing at Your Dreams is a Privilege

If you get the chance to go off track and chase your dream, but ended up failing or discovering that your dream wasn’t meant for you, be appreciative. Not everyone is born or raised in the right conditions that give you the option to choose what you could do in life.


23. Never End Conversations on a Bad Note

Mortality is real and the last thing you’d want to do is end a conversation with someone (especially a friend or family member) with negative sentiments. There’s a chance that you’d not be able to speak with that person again.


24. Relationships Need Nourishment

Here’s how you maintain any type of relationship:
  • Spend quality time interacting with them
  • Generate an element of fun
  • Repeat


25. Some More Solid Advice from another Friend

Sometimes the right question doesn’t lie in “What do I want in life?” …I think more importantly it’s “What can I give?”


26. How to Easily Convert from Metrics to Imperial

Because the rest of the world uses the Metric system…


KM + .6KM
KM  → MI
FT  → M
32M OR (M/3) *10
M → FT
3.28FT OR 3*FT + 25%FT
  •  Double it: 20
  •  Take all but the last digit of the result: 2
  • Add it to the result: 20 + 2 = 22lbs


  • Halve the KG
  • Subtract 10%


27. How to Easily Convert from Celcius to Fahrenheit

C° = (FAHRENHEIT – 32) / 2
F° = CELSIUS(2) + 32


28. Make Up Travel Games to Stay Active

Since I can’t always clock in hours at the gym while traveling, I end up making up travel games to stay fit. The goal is to be active every single day by abiding to a set of rules. Each day I must do at least one of the following:

  • Run to discover a new place
  • Climb a tree/rock
  • Swim in a body of water
  • Calisthenics while at an apartment/hostel/park


Not 28 Yet? Here are a few other things I’ve learned throughout the years:



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