30, Thriving, and Traveling: A Letter To Yourself

By the time you read this, I am already 30.

The birthday that I celebrate with millions of others around the world, has a list of highly significant historical events — one of which is the date when the Statue of Liberty was presented to the U.S. in Paris. But that was in 1884. I was born on the same year and date that Martina Navratilova wins her 6th straight Wimbledon.

With more than a dozen historically significant events on my birthday, one cannot help but ask: so, what have YOU done lately? Where’s your history-changing moment?

Let me answer that with a letter. To those who are nearing their 30’s, the ones who are already 30, and folks who can’t wait to turn 30 — this is for you.

HEY there,

You with the few strands of gray hair, the one who used to hate coffee (but now can’t wake up without it), and has finally invested in a good wardrobe — where have you been? Were you busy living that you didn’t bother to pause and celebrate another year? Or did all those days just come and went?

Don’t be so surprised. It’s me — from your future. Yes, you will still look awesome despite gaining a couple of pounds. You actually get mistaken for 25. Believe it or not, all that sleeping in you did in your 20’s is finally paying off. Who knew sleep was the magic pill, right?

But there was a time you couldn’t sleep. I remember that. No, not your college years and that thesis project. I still reminisce over those years when you were hard at work.

You had a graveyard shift. Times were tough: you just got back from a year of extra school in a foreign country and you’re not even sure how to restart life. You accepted a job similar to the one you left previously thinking that ‘maybe this is it, maybe I can build a career around this’. Were you wrong? Hell yes. But was it a waste of time? No. All those sleepless nights weren’t for nothing. I am here today because of all those hours you lost.

It wasn’t always this way; we weren’t always filled with unfaltering confidence. Remember the time you couldn’t even give a sarcastic remark? Your friend told you it was never too late to chase dreams. I was there with you when he mentioned that. You didn’t believe him — but I did.

You’re still not sure where to go exactly, or how to run towards that dream, but you get up every morning to find out. Why? Because you remember what he said back then. At the back of your mind, you want to believe. That’s a good start.

You told yourself that you’d find a guy like that: someone you could look up to. Someone to challenge and push you, to tell it to your face when you genuinely suck at something — and you found him, haven’t you? He’s not perfect (no one is) — but he’s perfect for you. You have fun, you fight, then make up; that’s what lovers do. I know you love him, though at times you wonder how much.

You wonder about a lot of things lately. Back when you were 19 and the king of the world, you were so dead set in your ways as if things were never going to change. Who knew they’d be so different?

You don’t want the same things anymore, and your priorities have changed. Sure, I understand deep down, you still want the glass office at the top floor of a shiny commercial building. But with the family, the finances, and your own entrepreneurial dreams surrounding you, you often wonder how you’re going to make it work.

It will though, trust me. Cliché as it sounds, it’s always rain before sunshine — and for good reason: rainbows don’t appear without rain. You might not have the lucrative job, the fancy car, or the fat bank account; but you have more priceless possessions than what your nosy neighbors see.

Remember that you and your family are in good health (this saves you more in the long term), you have a car that works (versus waiting for a cab in the rain), a beautiful house (that you can call your own), and friends who care about you (and treat you to dinner once in a while). I bet you can list more than 30 things that you’re thankful for right this second. So if you’re wondering whether you’re going to make it — you already did.

But let’s go back to that glass office, the lucrative job, and the fancy car — will you still have a chance to get them? Of course! It’s never too late to chase after what you want, especially if these dreams involve family.

I know you want these things not just for yourself, but also to help others. I hope that you still have that burning passion for altruism inside you. Let politics and commercialism kill the idealist. But never let whatever goodness inside you die. You have NO idea how many people need just a bit of kindness and warmth in their lives. You could be their spark, you know.

I hope that when we meet again, we can look back on both good and bad memories. The bad ones to help us grow up, and the good ones to smile for. Our dad told us that there’s no need to be afraid anymore, now that we’ve gone this far. He’s right, you know. You will have more pain and hardship ahead of you — but you’ve experienced enough to know that you can only grow from all those challenges.

You’re not young anymore, but you’re not yet old enough to be so wise either. So don’t worry too much! Take it one year at a time.

And hey, once you bag that lucrative job or create that multi-million dollar business, write me a letter, too. It’s always a joy to read how far you’ve come.

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