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What being 27 taught me

Hey there readers, I just turned 28 last month, and I found this craving for writing again about how life has been. I have started this blog seven years ago, as a form of self-expression, as a way of making sense about everything that was happening around me. What does 27 year-old Kate know about life so far? What have I learned? How am I going to navigate the next years knowing that I have lived one-third of my life in this planet? How am I going to be more intentional? How will I live? Dear ones, here’s what I know for sure.

  1. Family is the starting point of everything and it grounds you. I have learned to appreciate my family now more than ever. COVID and my father’s passing has definitely been a factor as to why I found so much strength in being with family. I tend to not spend a lot of time with my family because I was too busy chasing goals, making ends meet, hustling, working hard in academics, and just doing everything my competitive self wanted. But as I turned 28, I know, for sure, that my family is the starting point of everything that I want to do with my life. They are the foundation that created who I am and guided every step that I took and will be taking along the way. When I get too stressed in the hospital, I just have to go home, play with the dogs, sleep, and have deep and fun conversations with my sisters. Everything that I do makes sense because of the strong foundation that I have with family. We’ve been together since day one, and it comforts me that I have them and that they got me.
  2. Don’t be afraid to take the first step. Just like how a child unconsciously takes the first few steps, I learned that being a beginner at things is okay. Falling down is okay. Taking the first step may be the most difficult thing for someone to do, but, once you bravely take the plunge and just go with your gut, even if you know that so many bad things can happen or that you may fail, taking that first step is always worth it. I was so afraid of going back to medical school, taking weekly exams and so unsure about everything that I was doing. But here I am now, about to graduate in a few months. I can do simple medical procedures that I never thought I’ll be able to do or even be good at doing. I can now extract blood, insert intra foley catheter, make an IV line, administer drugs, do CPR, do suturing, deliver a baby, and a lot more, all because I took the first step, even if I know that I might fail or be bad at it the first few times. Life is about taking the first step again and again and being okay with falling over and over again.
  3. Keep on exploring. I guess getting older kind of erases the innate curious being inside us. I used to love watching discovery channel documentaries and travelling. But as we become adults, our schedules get more complex, our to do lists get longer and we forget the part of us who love to explore and discover things, and not just do things out of routine or necessity. I still want to explore places, even if it’s just a random coffee shop in our town, or a beach or mountain. I still want to feel exhilarated by the cold air, the sunrise, the sound of new music. I have learned that our yearning for exploration, is still here. It doesn’t fade away.
  4. Keep on learning. I used to love playing the ukulele. I loved learning. I loved reading. I know that this part of me will always be here. Right now, I get excited by learning the Biochemistry of medicine. It’s like I am starting medical school all over again without the pressure of learning it fast. I guess the thirst for learning has lessened through the years, but not learning is not living. This blog post is an attempt to put into paper what I have learned so far. Alas, learning never ends.
  5. Read. What more can I say? I love books. I love how imaginative I can be just by thinking about how the characters look like or how this world that the author conjured looks like in reality. Reading pumps up your imagination. Harry Potter has opened up that creative tunnel for me. Reading courtroom novels opened up my mind that other people can think a certain way. I just found a best friend in reading.
  6. Stay creative. Creativity gave me a push, a reason to live, a reason to play. Writing is my form of creative expression. Dressing up, buying clothes at thrift stores, hair styling. Anything can be a form of creative expression. Creativity will inspire you and you need to make time for it. I noticed that when I stop writing, that’s when my anxiety and depression come back, that’s when my soul slowly withers, and so I have to keep it up, it makes me cling towards living. It makes me wonder, it makes me think, it summarizes the 1 million thoughts that float in my head. We have to live creatively if we want to live a full and happy life. I try to incorporate it through my medical kit, I use a pink stethoscope, a pink tape measure, I use colorful pens, absolutely anything that could introduce play in my job. Living life in color, living creatively, even if I am in a very stressful environment, that is how I fight the norms of this society.
  7. A little competition is healthy, too much is a no no. I love a little bit of competition. I even got addicted to it when I was still a little kid. I guess I have to incorporate more of this in my life right now. I have been more of a zen person, to the point that I got fat because I was contented with where I am. I mean, it’s good, but I have to up my game and compete. It’s fun as long as you are not toxic to others. Use competition in a healthy way.
  8. Sing. I have learned that singing takes stress away. Having a bad day? Sing. Having a boring day? Sing. I don’t have a scientific explanation as to why it feels so good to sing but what I know is based on personal experience, singing makes you feel better afterwards. So, sing!
  9. Make friends. I was never scared of shifting careers or changing workplace because I know that no matter where I go, I can easily make friends. Humans did not evolve to be alone. We are meant to socialize, build tribes, and face things TOGETHER. We are not meant to be islands. We are meant to work together, to slay goals together. Friends have saved me so many times. I survived every phase of my life because I had amazing friends who stood by my side, and backed me up when there were too many shit sandwiches. Friends will keep you sane and make you laugh.
  10. Dance. Dancing, just like singing, is a perfect way to feel better afterwards. I used to dance as a kid and even at work, I still did that. I have to get back at this if I want to feel happier, lol. It just makes me sad that there are less events where people can dance because of COVID but we can dance in our homes, have our solo dance parties, or even do zumba sessions.
  11. Sharpen your skills. At 27, I have a certain set of skills that I was able to develop and there are still a lot more that I need to learn. But even if we grow old, we must never stop sharpening our skills. We must make it an art. I once read a blog in Tiny Buddha about how Picasso was not the Picasso that we know when he was just starting out. I want to be more skillful than I am now. I am like this baby who doesn’t even know how to walk alone in terms of medical procedures and knowledge, but I know that I can’t be a Picasso overnight. It takes practice and it takes time, and I am patient with my process. I will be my own version of Picasso, in time.
  12. Chaos is inevitable. Wherever we go, whatever we do, chaos is just there. 28 years and this fact is still true. No matter how much you curate a perfect schedule, a flawless plan, something will always come up. Since this is certain, we have to learn how to dance with the rain instead of expecting that the weather will be good, or that it will always be sunny. Let me give you a reality check, it won’t. There are good days, but there are days when the world seems like it’s against you and your goals. But you know what? Those challenges make life exciting. Those crossroads and obstacles, make life interesting and make the reward all the more worth it. So let chaos come, but you, will be okay.
  13. Proceed, despite. This is a phrase that my doctor friend (Hi Doctor J!) often writes, and it really made a mark on me. No matter what hurdle comes your way, you have the power to choose the next move. Am I perfect? I definitely am not. I have so many days when I just want to give this all up and go back to my comfort zone and live an easier life. I do find myself questioning my decision to dive in the medical field. But somehow, I just can’t stop and I definitely don’t want to quit, even when I got so depressed when my Dad passed. I just can’t give up our dream. Hence, despite all those insanely painful things that happened, I choose to proceed, despite.
  14. Keep going. Hope is hard to find when you are inside the dark tunnel. I was 14 when I attempted to commit suicide. I couldn’t find the sense in living because of how turbulent our life was. I couldn’t find the reason, I just felt trapped. But what made me stop that dark choice was, the me that I saw 10 years later. I thought to myself, that it’s impossible that life will always be like this. I decided to live even if that was the last thing that I wanted to do. Fourteen years later, here I am, about to become a medical doctor, living with my family, four dogs, loving partner, and it gets absolutely better.
  15. You will rise. I know it sounds cliche. Sometimes the shit sandwich just keeps on coming and you just want it to stop. But let me tell you what being in rock bottom does to you, it teaches you that if you have reached rock bottom, there’s no other way but up. It is a fact. If you have been through the worst, there’s no way for you to go down because you are already at the bottom of the pit. The next events will be exciting, because it is now your climb. You can never climb down, there is no way but up. You will rise and good things will definitely come. Keep on working and never give up.
  16. Success comes to those who are willing to dedicate their energy and time to the things that excite them. Whenever I get decision paralysis, I just follow what excites me. When an idea or a career choice doesn’t excite me, then I am not having any part of it. Medicine, as challenging as it is at the moment, still excites me. Learning about diseases, and how to manage sick patients still pique my interest. I don’t want to paint a perfect picture for you, but if you are excited about something, you will keep on working at it and even if you get tired, you will still get up and keep doing the work over and over again, because as weird as it seems, this is what you love doing. It can be something as seemingly mundane as coloring nails or organizing your closet, but if it excites you, and you just have one life to live, isn’t it a sin to not do it?
  17. Freedom rocks. I remembered my university days and how happy I was. UP had this culture of freedom. I can dress however I want because I am not in the province where judgemental looks were given to those who dress differently. I loved how radical, our professors think, and how self expression is the norm. I discovered at that age that freedom is one of my non-negotiables. I love being free to do what I want. So if a person makes me feel like I’m being strangled, or an environment is suffocating, I know that this isn’t where I am supposed to be. You get my point? To live fully is to be free.
  18. Try new things. You are never too young or too old to try something new. At the moment I still have so many things that I wish to try. I still want to go scuba diving. I still want to learn how to ride a bicycle. I still want to travel around the world and immerse in different cultures. I still want to have my own pet. The list goes on. Trying new things keeps our soul alive.
  19. People aren’t perfect. This is definitely a hard to swallow pill. However, getting older will teach you that every one of us has good and bad sides. There are people, whom you thought are good, but has this dark side that is just hard to believe that a human being can possess. The people that you love dearly have the power hurt you the most. But at the end of the day, people are people. We are all human beings who are trying our best to live in the best way we could, with what we have. We will make mistakes and hurt people along the way. It is just a matter of grace and establishing healthy boundaries.
  20. Celebrate. I guess we are all guilty at some point of being too hard on ourselves. When we have slayed one goal, we don’t even take enough time to celebrate. We just move on to the next goal. I learned that I should celebrate my wins, big or small. We should give ourselves a pat in the back whenever we do a good job, or finish a difficult project. Remember the effort and challenges along the way. Everyone deserves a celebration.
  21. Jump and take risks. Living a safe life is a big no for me. You will never know what you’re capable of until you take risks. You just have to be smart along the way so that you will not fall flat on your face. All of the best things that happened to me are a result of taking good and calculated risks. I’m not saying you should climb Mt. Everest or go skydiving. Just make brave choices from time to time, and let the magic unfold. You just have one life anyway.
  22. Party, explore, navigate. Getting lost is part of the game. Remember that. Whatever exploration means to you, do it and live it. Try new things. Meet and talk to people who have different beliefs as yours. Follow your curiosity. It will give you lessons that can only be learned through experience.
  23. Be brave in making decisions. I do believe that there is no such thing as a right or wrong decision. It’s a matter of being brave in living with the consequences of your choices. If you chose to get married early and have kids, then that’s good, just take the good with the bad. If you chose to be single, then that’s also good, take the good with the bad.
  24. You can only connect the dots looking backward. As Steve Jobs said in his Stanford speech, “You can only connect the dots looking backwards.” At this age, I still have so many dots that are yet to connect. It’s still too early to tell. But based on everything that happened in the past, where I am now makes sense. The people I met, the wins and losses, all of them made me who I am. And I am so fucking proud of the person that I turned out to be. I still have a lot of figuring out to do, but I look back and I am proud.
  25. Loss is inevitable. The biggest heartbreak in my life taught me so many lessons than no self-help book could. It’s really when you face the unthinkable, that you discover how strong you are and how much one person’s life can mean . It has been two and a half years since I lost my favorite person in the world. I learned how finite time is, so we must stop with the nonsense and just, love. But it’s true, the bigger the love, the bigger the loss. Nevertheless, just love.
  26. Learning to live without your North Star. The universe-sized hole in my heart is still here. Time doesn’t heal all wounds after all. There are wounds that one lifetime cannot heal but you will learn to live with them. You will get used to living with pain. Whenever I remember my Dad, I get sad, but I know that this sadness means that I have loved as much as my human heart could. And isn’t that beautiful? Doesn’t that make life worth it? I am one lucky human to have lived and loved someone so much. I am one lucky daughter to have 25 years with a Dad who gave an amount of love that could last more than a lifetime.
  27. Allowing others to love you. As trials came my way, I learned to accept love. I am still the strong, independent, and self-reliant woman that I used to be, but having lost my Dad, taught me to accept help. My heart feels so warm and fuzzy now that I have the confidence that I can stand alone, and it’s a lot of fun to have family and friends holding your hand and helping you live each day. Allow people to love you. Lean on others and be a shoulder to lean on. I have survived and thrived in the past 27 years because I had a tribe with me.

Indeed, 27 has been amazing.

By Katey

Hi, I'm Katey, a medical student, writer, teacher, and biologist. This is where I write the lessons that I've learned during my adventures. Hit follow to get my latest tips, life updates, and even poetry. If you want to live a life with passion and purpose then you have come to the right place. Keep on shining.

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