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Lessons I have learned in life upon reaching the age of 23

Lessons I have learned in life upon reaching the age of 23

Things Rapha have learned at 23

Twenty-three years is a very long time. However, it seems to pass by in a whirl. I can’t believe that I am already at this point of time in my life.

From the perspective of a kid, I am quite old, but from the point of view of the older generation, I am very young. But what all of us cannot deny is the fact that in a span of twenty-three years, I have learned a lot.

That’s what we will be looking at in this article. As young as other people think I am, I want to share some premature yet useful lessons I picked up along the way. Hopefully, this can help young adults like me.

In my articles, I always mention how my age is the hardest part of life—specifically, the early 20’s. We still figure things out. Only the littlest aspects, if not none, get established.

The pressure is also very heavy on us, that’s why I’ll try my best to impart some knowledge.

It’s ok for things to not workout

It is impossible to count how many times I beat myself up for not being able to do something I have planned. That’s how we were raised—we should always set goals and we should always reach them. That’s why every time I do that and I fail, I get disappointed.

As I grew up, I realized that it shouldn’t be the case. As a human being, I should be open to failure and it shouldn’t discourage me to keep trying. Yes, it is normal to feel sad and disappointed. However, I should eventually move on and keep going.

We live in a society where success is a race. We were taught to reach a state in life at a certain age. I learned to break out from that idea.

In reality, I have all the time in the world to fail. Failing teaches us all the things we need to do and what not to do. If I continue to be scared of failure, I will miss all those opportunities to learn from an experience.

Things that Rapha learned at the age of 23
Rapha being Rapha

Adults often tell us that time gets wasted whenever we try new things and pursue our passions with uncertainties. They keep us from things we actually love and lead us to those that are safe.

What you need to know about the concept regarding time wasted is that it isn’t. If you fail after trying something you thought would work out, it is another box checked. It is better to have tried instead of wondering “What if?”

What is important is how you learned that something is not for you. That is more ideal than finding out that it is for you but you never tried. Don’t fear disappointment after failing. Instead, fear regret for not trying.

At the age of 23, I learned that failure is not a disgrace, but rather a chance to discover another path. Things don’t work out, not because I am a failure, but because I seized an opportunity that just isn’t for me. And that isn’t a waste of time because I have learned and I have grown from that experience.

Romantic relationships need constant effort

Gone are the days that I romanticize romance. I used to look at love as a shiny little object that will just forever sparkle and is susceptible to anything. However, as I grew older, I realized that it isn’t and that’s okay.

Being in a relationship is a choice and a commitment. You won’t want to enter something you’re not ready for, then suddenly realize that you don’t want it. It isn’t a trend or a requirement. You do it because you want to spend your whole life with someone.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to explore yourself and your sexuality. However, if you want that, being committed is not the way to go.

Debunk the idea of a single person being unhappy. Assess yourself before committing, ask yourself if you really want it and if you are willing to devote yourself to your partner.

Things that Rapha learned at the age of 23
Rapha and the love of his life, Jim

If ever you choose to commit, keep in mind that it won’t be perfect and you will experience heartache in the process. The early stages will be fun and almost perfect, but it will run out. Love will always be there but the butterflies in your stomach can disappear.

Romantic relationships aren’t made up of only rainbows and smiles. Don’t get me wrong, those things will still be present if you nurture a healthy bond. However, you will face a lot of challenges along the way but it will strengthen what you have.

At the age of 23, I learned how the euphoria of the first stages of a relationship might be gone but I committed because I love him. And I choose to love this person every day. In a span of 9 months, we have experienced a lot of things. Now, we’re stronger and I love him even more.

Drifting apart with people in the past

As a person who easily falls for people, and by that I mean platonically, I have made a ton of friends in my lifetime. During my pre-school, primary, secondary, and college education, I have met a lot and I can say that I grew fond of them.

There are some that I keep in touch with to this day. However, some people get stuck with the messages of “I miss you” and “Let’s hang out soon.”

They are those who I truly loved but circumstances made us lost our connection as we grew up and grew apart.

Unfortunately, these friendships are hard to bring back. Yes, you might try and exert effort to catch up but, sometimes, you just really lost it. You already made new ones, found new interests, and learned new perspectives.

People grow apart as we grow older and that’s okay. Yet, always remember how the relationships we built made us happy and we truly loved them. The memories created and the experiences shared are still there. Sadly, we cannot create new ones with them anymore.

Things that Rapha learned at the age of 23
Rapha with Jane, Alex, and Francis—his friends since high school and probably, forever

Just like romantic relationships, friendships need constant effort. Hold on to those who you have and never let them go.

Don’t let yourself grow apart from them. Instead, grow with them. Educate each other about your newfound knowledge, share values, and build a stronger relationship.

At the age of 23, I learned that it is natural to drift apart with past relationships but that doesn’t mean we didn’t love them. We just grew up and life happened. I also realized that winning in life is being able to keep your friendships and growing with the people you love.

Family is, indeed, important

This one might sound weird since Filipino people are known for being family-oriented. Don’t get me wrong though, I have loved my family even before. However, it is not until recently how I understood its true meaning.

Ever since I was a boy, people have called me a “mama’s boy” and that is very true. I wouldn’t deny that. I am very close with my mom ever since I was a child and I couldn’t imagine my life without her. As a child, I die every time she leaves me, even just for work.

I was an only child for several years. Maybe that’s why it is so. As time went on, however, there came my sisters. As a teenager, and our ages being far apart, we didn’t really connect for quite some time. Sure, we live in the same house but we never really had the bond.

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They often tell me how when we were young, I used to shut them away. I couldn’t believe that, at first, but when I contemplated it, I realized that maybe it was true. I was a teenager back then so I was very angsty.

Things that Rapha learned at the age of 23
Rapha and his sisters

Today, fortunately, everything is different. The pandemic has taught me a lot of things but what I value the most is how my sisters and I got to know each other better and connect in a way that we are inseparable.

Our bond is stronger than ever and I cannot stress how much that changed me. Just thinking about them being far away from me makes me heartbroken. I am also brave enough to say that they are my motivation to be better in a lot of aspects. They make me better. And I think it will always be us against the world.

Lastly, my father. Wow, he is complicated. He could be described as very reserved and careful when it comes to his emotions, except when he’s disappointed, irritated, or angry. That’s how we see him—he’s very intimidating.

He never showed any form of affection for us—he’s very careful about that. I actually cannot remember even a single time he greeted any of us with a “Happy Birthday.” He never uttered the words “I love you.”

Maybe it is because of his environment and how society made him the way he is, for men are often shamed for showing any kind of affection.

Nevertheless, as we got to know him better, we understood him and he understood us. He is the first person to have openly accepted us for who we are.

I’m not gonna detail that any longer, but I am very thankful how even he had many reservations about his emotions, he had no reservations when it comes to loving us for who we are. And I am thankful for that more than anything.

Things that Rapha learned at the age of 23
Rapha and his ever-loving family — Nat’s 15th birthday

At the age of 23, although very late, I learned that family is indeed important. And my relationship with them will always be my topmost priority.

Being alive is enough motivation to live

We always ask ourselves what our purpose is in life. Human beings often rely on things in order to have a motivation to live and keep going. There are things like family, friends, goals, ambitions, and faith. We hold on to these things because we want something to hold onto.

What is the meaning of life and why am I here? Is there a reason why I’m still alive?

My answer to that is simple: we don’t know… or maybe we do. For me, our purpose in life is how we make it. The things I mentioned above can be your life-jacket or your reason to go on. You can use them to motivate yourself to continue living.

However, in my perspective, based on all of the various experiences I have encountered, being alive is enough reason to live. I have my friends, family, boyfriend, and dreams. They complete me and they make me who I am.

Really, I am just thankful that I am here and experiencing the beauty and the complexities of this thing called life.

At the age of 23, I realized and learned to embrace the idea that I am alive that’s why I’m going to live. For some, it won’t make sense. Well, exactly, it’s just like life. That’s why my advice for you is… seize everything... live.

Things that Rapha learned at the age of 23
Rapha, living…
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