Because it’s hard to teach this old dog new tricks
When something goes wrong, everyone looks for someone to blame. And for those of us that have a hard time with this #adulting thing, the blame usually falls on our schools or our parents. They didn’t teach us how to file taxes, they should have been stricter with health and exercise. They should have taught us about sex. They force-fed us the dream of a big corporation but never really explained how long and difficult the journey would be.
And while we know they did their best, it’s hard not to daydream about what could have been had they handled things differently. Would we be more responsible, would we be healthier, would things be easier? Would I be a better person?
Well, here are the lessons I would have wished for a younger me:
Being financially responsible
My parents gave me a daily allowance growing up, which meant a financial reset every time I went to school. If I didn’t have enough money today, I knew I could get my hands on it tomorrow instead. It was a great situation that I enjoyed growing up, but it taught me nothing about budgeting or saving.
So during the first few months of work and no allowance, this was me five days after getting paid:
I’ve had to learn my financial lessons the hard way and would have appreciated being eased into it. A few friends of mine were given a weekly or monthly allowance, which I imagine helped them in the long run.
Food was never an issue at home; my siblings and I always ate what was on the table. But while we didn’t grow up picky eaters, we didn’t grow up loving healthy food either. Vegetables were always a side dish and pork was always the poison of choice. Now I have a hard time accepting a salad as a full meal and brown rice as real rice.
Kind of wish I would be satisfied without all the sodium, sauces and meat.
Sports was never a big thing in my family, so it was easy to quit anything that got too tiring and/or boring. Biking around our village was a hobby, throwing a ball was just a game and walking our dog was for her exercise (not mine)—nothing was a habit formed on the belief of and need for fitness. Now that I’ve outgrown my bike, stopped playing on the street and buried my dog, there’s just nothing keeping me active anymore.
If only I had known how important fitness would one day be, maybe I would have kept at it.
I’ve been told time and time again that I was a quiet kid. I never ran around church, I never screamed at the mall, I stayed put whenever I was told to. I learned how to keep my mouth shut—almost to the point that I wouldn’t really say what was on my mind.
A lot of things could have been avoided if I just knew how to say no. My life would have been a little less stressful (and a whole lot more enjoyable) if I learned to be honest upfront.
Knowing how to get from point A to point B is a life skill I never really acquired. I can repeat steps, but I need to be shown them first. But if you leave me in Makati and tell me to head to Cavite, I wouldn’t know where to buy my ticket, which bus to take and which station to get off of.
Imagining the money I could save if I didn’t have to take Grab everywhere kind of makes me sad.
I don’t know how to swim. So, yeah, this would have been nice.
Someone tell me what it’s like to be in the ocean without a life vest on.
There’s no turning back time and, hey, of course I can say these would have made me better prepared for life—because everyone’s an expert in hindsight. But blaming the past is the easy way out and I know I can still learn these things if I set my mind to it. After all, it’s never too late, right?
Art Alexandra Lara