17 Things I Learned The Hard Way This 2017

“Anyone who isn’t embarrassed by who they were last year isn’t learning enough.” - Charles Bukowski

2017 is like any of those years before a new year - it's as exactly as Jia puts it - it's the worst year ever, until next year. Except that, honestly, it was also my best year. 

It's a year of beginnings and firsts. It's the year I finally had to quit my three part-time jobs for a full-time corporate job. It was my first year of immigration. It was the year I got paid for writing online and got published on Girlboss and The Financial Diet (I'm still shocked whenever I remember that I got paid. What the hell? I have never thought about writing as another way of earning money and getting a 'fun' side hustle until this year). It was the first time I joined a rally (Women's March) and became an 'activist'. It's the year I reunited again with my sister. It's the year I bought my mom a car. It's the year I saved myself from being too broke.

Another year of forced self-discovery. Being out there with zero friends isn't as intimidating as it was lively and exciting. It's the year I literally tried almost everything to expand my circles and to step out of comfort zone. I experienced a number of terrible, confusing, and funny situations from dates to events that I still can't confidently say I've learned things from. I was naive then I was embarrassing, before I got back on my feet and started being myself again.

I was also crunching, crying, and ranting for the last few months - being stressed about not doing enough creative work, not expanding my skillset, and not making enough money to pay my bills and sustain the lifestyle I want. I've learned that it doesn't take 'passion' to have a career and run a side hustle. It actually takes more than empathy, kindness, logic, decisiveness, consistency, and self-awareness to make it work. If there was an app where anyone can automate and track their personal and professional growth, I would probably use it to shit on myself. Thank God I don't know about that app. I'm human and I give myself a little credit.

I've listed the 17 Things I've Learned in 2017 - including the ones I wish I knew sooner. 

  1. Nice is different from kind. Be kind but don't be 'nice'. There’s a difference. 'Nice' gets you to be the doormat. Nice is being the 'Cool Girl' articulately defined by Gillian Flynn. Except that it's not just for men. It's for all people who would take advantage of you if they could.
  2. Lean-in to the sharp edges. Sometimes you need to do the work you don't like to do and to step outside of your comfort zone for self-growth and learning. BUT always make a line and practice boundaries. 
  3. Embrace Fear. Fear of fucking up and not doing enough usually helps you get your shit together. It gives you a clear sight of you want to do and what you are currently doing.
  4. Don’t do anything for FREE. Money is always great but it is not always the currency- do X-deals or collaborations, as long as you're getting compensated for your time. Respect yourself, your time, and your work. Fuck exposure. Your broke ass needs to get paid. 
  5. Move your phones out of the way if you want to finish a task fast. Or just grab your laptop and go to a coffee shop, if you want to be realistic. You can't finish anything if your phone is beside you, asking you to check your Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. It distracts you and slows you down.
  6. Get yourself a friend who has your back. Have a friend who hypes you up, who motivates you when, especially when, you are a fountain of negativity, and who calls you out when you're trying to do something crazy, like texting him. You should have her back and reciprocate the same way. Period.
  7. Never say yes to the first job/gig offer. Always counter offer and ask for more. I don't need to elaborate this.
  8. Self-promotion is shame-free. Don't get too conscious of other people's opinion of you. Some people already hate you and think you are annoying. Just focus on people who want to hear from you.
  9. Do not #FakeItTilYouMakeIt until you do your research. The best way to be confident is to be ready. People can sense false confidence and pretentiousness. 
  10. Be authentic and honest and don't be afraid of getting a little personal. If you want to know a person, you have to be a real person with a story and personalities. It’s better to ward off people for being you than living under the fear of being exposed by some little facts. #BoyBye
  11. If someone wants to date you or like you, you will know. Because they will make sure you know. 
  12. You really don't have to be accommodating to everyone. You're not everyone's mom. You don't need to deal with people's issues. You're not their therapist. I could go on..
  13. No one's going to die because you said NO. When your plate is full, when you can’t do it, or when you don’t want to do it, just say NO. Again, no one’s going to die if you say no. Don't sacrifice a little dignity for likeability. 
  14. Know your worth. It’s a cliché, I know. But giving yourself some assurance, self-love, and affirmations helps you along the way. My usual go-to questions are: Did my mom go through hell and back for me to deal with this crap? Am I taking care of myself dearly just to settle for something less? Nah. It always works.
  15. Advocate for yourself because no one’s going to do it for you. Advocating for yourself is not narcissism. You can’t rant your way to getting the recognition you want. Your friends can't do it for you either. 
  16. All jobs are jobs. You aren’t more or less because of what you do for a living. Do not judge.
  17. Spend your paycheck wisely and always PAY YOURSELF FIRST. You don't need to have lots of money or wait to be rich to consider saving and investing. It's never too early or too late to get your financial life together. 


I've learned more than I have imagined I would this year and I can't wait to execute all these lessons next year. How's your 2017?