24 in 4: The Things I’d Tell My 11 year old self.


I am turning 24 in four days.

And somehow, I still can’t wrap around my head around it.

My mind travels back to the time when I was eleven (where you can still find me on most days) and I realize that when I was eleven, the oldest age that I could see myself as was sixteen. Anything beyond that age was quite impossible for my young self to imagine, and here I am, days away from it.

It feels like it has been forever since I’ve been eleven and yet another part of me wonders when and how the last thirteen years passed by so quickly.

My eleven year old self had high expectation of her older self– she expected her to be self actualized, popular and oozing with confidence (don’t blame her, she watched way too many chick flicks growing up).

I could only laugh at how irrational my eleven year old self was.

But I also can’t help but shake my head because even to this day, I have carried some of my younger’s self illusion (delusion?) seriously.

That sometimes, at the core of my disappointment was my somber eleven year old self demanding me to do better in life– a better job, better friends and so on. She had many demands and I always felt like I let her down simply because the life I’m living right now is nothing compared to the one she dreamed of when she was in fifth grade Math class.

These were some of the thoughts (too early for a quarter life crisis?) that crossed my mind earlier as the days to my 24th neared. I looked back at how I imagined my life to be and how it really is and I couldn’t believe how extremely blessed I am to be where I am and not where I wanted to be.

And here’s a few reasons why:

1)  You Don’t Change For Your Friends, Your Friends Love You For Who You Are

     – I’ve always thought that in order to keep friendships you have to do it right all the time. That means saying yes and doing what you are told. I never realized that real friends never judge and they love you no matter how many times you mess up. I only dreamed of friendships as such, but God has been faithful in answering a lifelong prayer– but in a different way. I am blessed to have a good group of people around me who are extremely different from each other and are not from the same environment. God truly knows the relationships we need and knows when to bring them to our lives.
       And also, I have come to realize that one can share an opinion or even say (gasp!) no without ruining the friendship, that real friends agree to disagree without making a big deal out of it.

2) The only “rigid” timetable you adhere to is your own

     – I was quite (still am) a bit idealistic. I always thought that when I reach a certain age, I would have ‘everything’ figured out (everything is still undefined). So that meant I had to be busy all the time, but then these days I have come to relish the days when I am not busy to the core. There is no timetable, especially one that I crafted without any wisdom at all, to strictly follow. The only timetable that matters is the one God designed for me– so there is no use for me to keep trying to make things happen outside of God’s timing. It has also made me understand that being busy wasn’t the key– but the key was doing the things that God has called me to do. I no longer needed to be Miss Do It All Myself. I simply had to surrender my activities to God and let the rest take shape, in His time.

3) No Family is Perfect
      – Safe to say, my dear eleven year old self, that your family will never become perfect just like The Wakefields, but guess what, something even better happens– you learn to love them in spite of it. You learn to love their quirks, their strengths and appreciate them for who they are and not who you imagine them to be. That by loving and accepting your family for who they are, you are slowly learning how to love without expecting anything in return. That it is in loving your family that you learn how truly wonderful grace is.

4) Your career doesn’t have to be a struggle

     – I am not saying that you wouldn’t have to work extra hard, what I’m saying is, when you are doing what God has called you do to do you just know. There is no forcing your way through it. It’s that peace in your spirit that knows that you’re exactly where you’re meant to be.

5) People and Seasons
     – Ever since watching Now and Then, I know you’ve had a fascination with friendships that last forever and you have been blessed with such, but at the same time you have to understand that life is constantly moving and people will move on and grow. It’s okay, some people are only meant to be in your life for awhile, don’t run after them, but simply relish what you had and wish them well.

6) Love doesn’t lie, cheat, hurt, demand or steal. 

    – Thanks to years of watching Dawson’s Creek, I once had a deluded idea that “love” had to be dramatic when in truth, love is everything but dramatic. As we’ve read in our favorite verse in 1 Corinthians 13, love aims to give and serve, not to get and destroy, so just in case you come across a few who treat you that way, leave immediately.

7) You Don’t To Be The Same To Like Each Other

   – Nothing spells boring as a homogeneous group (yes, i’m talking to you Regina George). Accept people for who they are and never think that just because they’re different from you you won’t get along. There are so many surprises that you will encounter when you learn to embrace someone you thought you’d never get along with.

8) Prince Charming Doesn’t Come in a Box  

     – Now, wouldn’t it be great if Disney sold those Princes that they love to sell so much in a box and with a little pixie dust, viola, you’ve got yourself a Prince. Don’t we all wish that it was that easy? Well it isn’t because in the first place, God’s story is better than anything Disney has drummed up and also, what might be perfect for another may not necessarily be perfect for you. So again, it’s all about trusting in God’s timing and knowing that whoever He has destined for you is way better than anyone you have ever dreamed of.

     Yes, you are still single at 24 but no, you haven’t started collecting cats yet (although in moments of sheer depression you have thought of it)  but you know that as you continually trust God in this are, you don’t have to worry.

9)  Perfection is Boring

      – I’ve said it before you don’t have to be perfect and I owe this to my good friend, Tracy. It’s okay to ‘chill’ and relax in your mistakes– because even in the ugliest mistakes, there is always something to learn and there is always room to grow into the person God has made you to be. That being rough around the edges makes you even more beautiful.

10) It’s not about what I did, it’s all about what He did for me

    – As Joseph Prince put it, it’s not about what we ‘do, do, do’ but all about what Jesus has ‘done, done, don'”. As you learn to rest in the goodness of Jesus, you will understand that once you are secure in who you are in Him, you will find it easier to do everything else, only by His grace, of course.

So yes, I may not be a size zero or driving around in a convertible, I may not be dating the coolest guy in the world and I may not be running a magazine (or on the cover of it) and I know that somehow, I failed my eleven year old self, but really what does she know anyway?

I only wish that my eleven year old knew what I know now, that truly the only life worth living is the one God has planned for me from the beginning and yes it may not include fame or Lance Bass, but I dare say that it still is the best life for me– at this given time, and I will celebrate where I am because I know that I’m exactly where God wants me to be and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

I’m quite astonished by the fact that I can and will celebrate my life despite the fact that most of the things I have dreamed of is not yet realized — life is a journey, God is refining me, but until then, I rest in His goodness and I thank Him for His love for me.

Because truly, without Him, life will not make sense at all.

And that is good enough reason to bring out balloons and dance a little, okay, maybe a lot.