18 vs 28 years old: 10 things I know now that I didn’t 10 years ago

At my late twenties, age seems to be everyone’s favourite topic. People like to say things like “Oh, you don’t look your age” or “Better get married soon. You’re not getting younger!”. When I say things like “We’re almost thirty!” to my peers, it be violently rebutted with “Not yet. Two years more!”.

Sara’s 28th Birthday

I don’t deny being complimented on looking younger than my age pleases me in a superficial level and signs of wrinkles alarmed me. But the truth is, I’m quite cavalier, even excited, about growing older because I truly enjoy the process and all the amazing things that come with time. At 28, I often thought how different I was at 18 years of age and how glad that I am not a teen anymore (Read: why I love adulthood)

Sara the dinosaur
Sara the dinosaur

Before I am no longer unofficially considered 28 , I shall write how much I’ve grow mentally and spiritually in these 10 years.

1. Found out what make me tick
Back in school, my favourite song was Staccie Orico “There gotta be more to life”. Then, I was constantly bored. I chased every temporary high but nothing satisfied me. Now I know just needed some mental stimulation, a greater goal in life that is beyond myself or the “American/Singapore dream”/materialism. Now, everyday I’m thankful.

2. I know what I like
I know my favourite things to do (cooking, reading and meaningful conversations), favourite author (Oscar Wilde/Jane Austen), favourite music (I realise I don’t appreciate music as much as I do books, so it’s really sporadic), favourite colour (pink and I just learned yellow too), favorite sports (swimming & yoga), type of men (nothing short of a genius), favourite food (at the end, it’s plain old homecooked chinese food), favorite country (Malaysia always and forever), etc

I know what I like and I pursue it everywhere I go e.g yoga

3. I know what I don’t like
This is very important. When I was a teen, many things everybody enjoyed, I didn’t. Many things people put up with, I abhor with every fibre of my being. Now I would not tolerate any form of disrespect, dishonestly and control. I wouldn’t think twice to walk away or fight, if need be. And I wouldn’t let my self go to places or be in situation that wouldn’t make me happy. I will not answer to any addresses that is not my name, ‘miss’ or ‘excuse me’ and won’t allow anyone to stop me from doing things I want to do.

What might be boring to others, excites me. It’s absolutely fine.

4. I found my calling and worked hard on something I believe in
I’ve done a few things; registered a company, signed contracts, learned about tax, banking, marketing, social media, dealing with customers, calculate risk, etc. I’m convince I’m made to encourage others to have a healthier lifestyle through JewelPie. It seems that all the talent I’m bestowed with and skills I’ve plucked along the way led to me something I want to do for the rest of my life.

I would have never thought cooking is my calling

5. Acquired confidence and courage
Confidence come from an accumulation and amalgamation of knowledge, experience, knowing yourself and believing in your own competence. I believe it’s my most important acquisition in these 10 years time. Confidence leads to courage, contentment and happiness.

With it, I know that I can do anything if I am willing to work on it e.g like speaking to a crowd of two thousand people.

Words don’t affect me as much as it did. Ask me a question? I will be able to give a sensible answer almost immediately or, if I can’t, I will be able to get back to you. Tease me or say something negative? I wouldn’t even notice. If I do, it doesn’t dip my esteem at all because I’m comfortable with what I have or don’t have.

Of course there are occasional doubts, but it comes very rarely and goes away a lot faster than it did before. Taking (calculated) risks and doing things that scares do increase confidence and courage.

Courage is more than having a snake on my head
Courage is more than having a snake on my head

6. I learn to be more sensible and open minded 
I’ve learned to be more discerning but not judgemental. I always thought if you do X, it means Y. There were many things I reject. Now,  I’ve overcome my dilemma and prejudice by being more open minded. It allows me to see things differently. At the end, I realise it goes back to (good) intention.

7. See parts of the world and realise how small I am
I’m lucky to be able to travel quite extensively. I learned about history, culture, politics, religion, food and lifestyle many people from around the world. Komatsu, Tokyo, Istanbul, Izmir, Seoul, Bankok, Bintan, Jakarta, Paris, London, Berlin, Munich,  Kathmandu, Phuket, Zurich etc.

I never knew the world and strangers can be so beautiful. I’ve made some good friend and I’ll always remember seeing the setting sun and the blue moon appearing on opposite side, at the same time, while lying on a wooden sampan in the middle of South China the sea. The sun, moon and sea that surrounded me around me feel so small, and God so big.

Discovering wonders in the world

8. Focus more on others and less on myself
Finding myself allow me to think about others more. I no longer focus on myself too much. Instead, think about other people needs and feelings a lot more than before. I think this make me a better daughter, sister, friend, acquiatance and stranger (I hope!). Of course, I still have a long way to go to be better. I’ll learn!

Trying to be a good daughter by taking my playful Mommy to places

9. Gained some knowledge
I couldn’t fry an egg  some years back. Now I can make bread from scratch, chicken curry with fresh spices, put together chinese herbs for tonic and much more. Because of what I didn’t know and what I’ve learned from one of the worst period of my life, I even come up with a cook book. Who would have thought?

Time allow me to read heaps of books and article. Some changed my thoughts, some my lifestyle e.g book on Jurisprudence, Bible, Buddhist scripts, Freakanomics, Oscar Wilde, In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan, Anne Frank’s diary, etc. I’ve got a list of to-read and I can’t wait to discover more things I didn’t know that will challenge my perspective.

Happy Birthday JewelPie
Reading and writing books is fun!

10. Found the meaning of life (to me). 
Now I know what I want to do and be with for the rest of my life (someone perfect does exist). I have definite goals for the future and detailed plans on how to achieve them.

But I also know things always don’t go my way, and I’ve learned the hard way (losing someone dear) to deal with all the challenges & make the best out of life, for myself and others. Nothing is more important than living healthy and happy life with my loved ones.

I share the same goal as Chinese emperors. I would want to live a thousand years...
I share the same goal as Chinese emperors. I would want to live a thousand years…


It’s amazing how much can change in decade. Imagine what another ten years will bring! I pray I’ll be lucky enough to have more years in my life. I promise my blessings will not be in vain!