25 Lessons I Have Learned Since Being 25

HI THERE DEAR READERS I have officially and literally triumphantly conquered my "Quarter Life Crisis". While the term IS very dramatic, I think it's a very R E A L phenomenon which many of us face (& continue to face past that age) with regards to #figuringitout. As a (still somewhat) impressionable & optimistic girl, I think that I have encountered sufficient experiences at this age to share some thoughts ;) While there are areas of my life that could be better, I'm happy with where I am & striving to make 26 AWESOME! #IMNOTAGIRLNOTYETAWOMAN (guilty pleasure Britney Spears song)

Also, had the most amazing celebration with these great humans!

I thought that was a VVV appropriate caption

I thought that was a VVV appropriate caption

Awesome company to celebrate with! Honestly, just food & conversations are the best.

Awesome company to celebrate with! Honestly, just food & conversations are the best.

1. The importance of living in the present aka LIVE IN THE MOMENT

This is something I struggle with. I need to learn to live in the present and enjoy my twenties for what they are, and smile because each day is full of endless possibilities! I will radiate positive energy to the world and be in control of my attitude every morning, which I want to keep optimistic and expectant. I will learn to fully appreciate the moments of today & soak in as much of today as I possibly can – the sights, the sounds, the smells, the emotions, the celebrations, the failures, the triumph, and the sorrow. (Because it's all going by so fast!!!) Cheesy as it sounds, capturing moments & stopping to smell the roses is crucial.

2. 25 is not old

Nuff said. THE ROAD AHEAD IS LONG. I DO NOT WANT TO HAVE ANXIETY ABOUT GROWING OLDER & WANT TO ENJOY THE POWER & BEAUTY OF MY YOUTH. AS SHOULD YOU.

3. The most important relationship you have is with yourself

#CheesyAF, but true true true. Self-love, self-care & self-acceptance is EVERYTHING. Accepting yourself fully, enjoying your own company, understanding your strengths and weaknesses and working away at them (Y) Trust me firsthand when I say that it is IMPOSSIBLE to be perfect. To be everything to everyone. At certain points, I have felt utterly mentally exhausted. I need my personal space. To be able to accept myself fully while still striving to improve is what I aim for. Nowadays, I find myself wanting to stay at home more, just enjoy ME-time or spend time indulging in my interests #ambivert. I'm a #workinprogress and proud of it. You should be too ;)

4. Healthy boundaries - Say NO if you don't want to

I have a slight problem - I am a people-pleaser. I sincerely do like people, but I do admit that I sometimes agree to things because I want to be liked or because I find it hard to turn people down. If my limits are pushed, it does turn into resentment, like if my efforts are not reciprocated etc. Which goes back to the point about just doing things without any expectations. Trust me it feels so much better. The simple solution is just to say no when I'm not up to it. There is nothing wrong with putting yourself first and being selfish. #limitedenergy

5. Building the right career for yourself is everything (don't postpone it because of the time value of $ and savings)

Ever since graduating from Sauder, I had envisioned myself as an #alphacareerwoman. Of course, I have a very long way to go, but this sort of mental label just adds to unnecessary anxiety. Looking back, what felt like some major missteps were actually lessons in disguise which were necessary (& painful at the time, but which I'll probably chuckle at in due time) and which I had to experience to discover the right path for myself. No one ever said the road ahead would be easy, but the challenges justify the journey. The cold hard truth is that there are many more imminent roadblocks and challenges, and I need to have grit to pull through them. #StrongIndependentWoman But at least I have discovered the right path after intense soul-searching, many conversations, personality inventory tests (trust me these are v helpful), research on viable career paths & the job market etc (I will be forever grateful to those who lent a helping hand & kind words of advice) & I hope I can inspire others to discover theirs. Phew #sighofrelief #byeQLC

6. Save, save, save $$$ (Budgeting is necessary)

$$$ is everything. There is no greater power than being financially independent. Passive income streams don't hurt either :P $ = financial POWER. I am personally a relatively thrifty person and tend to budget carefully & spend $ on experiences (concerts, travel, fashion) I save $ by actively reaching out to obtain sponsorships for my blog + enjoying experiences through Modern Mix Vancouver in order to gain the chance to promote and explore local spaces & experiences.

7. Be open-minded towards people but BE CAREFUL WHO YOU TRUST

We all know how it's like to meet and interact with judgemental or negative people. I've come across my fair share for sure, & I know that I can be judgmental (even though I try not to be). Being receptive, accepting people at the stage of life that they are in, and seeing the positive in people makes you so much more happier and allows you to have deeper & more compassionate relationships. Plus, wanting to impose your views on people or change them just doesn't make sense because EVERYONE IS D I F F E R E N T & that's what makes humans so fascinating. At the same time, most people CANNOT be trusted. Reading people and gaining better judgement of them is essential (Ain't no time to be naive)

8. Find your tribe

I'm glad to say I've found many wonderful friends from different walks of life and from various places - Singapore & Vancouver, especially. It's very tiring & impossible to keep up with everyone especially when I have so much on my plate, but I will try my best to continue to maintain these awesome friendships and provide support & be a better listener to others as and when we can. #QualityTime #DeepRelationships #RealTalk

9. Develop a Growth Mindset

Possessing a growth mindset means that people believe their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work - brains and talent are the starting point. Developing this mindset entails a passion for learning, as well as grit and resilience that is are crucial for great accomplishment #neverstoplearning

10. Your family will never be the easiest people to get along with, but they will always have your back

This is especially true for someone who is an only child and has grown up with strict and overprotective Asian parents (not to stereotype or anything, but yeah) I have gone through various phases of being frustrated with my parents and interpreting their actions as having a lack of respect or concern for me (oh trust me, at many points). From their perspective, I'm pretty sure they have gotten really pissed off at me too, for good reason. Although we get on one another's nerves a lot, I know that we are ~true soulmates~ and familia love is the only unconditional love you will experience (except ~perhaps~ romantic love but IDK about that) Upon further reflection, I would not have had the privilege of having a great education, very sheltered and comfortable lifestyle + many travel adventurez. & yes we do enjoy one another's company despite having clashing personalities (My dad is predominantly a green, my mom is predominantly a gold, I am predominantly an orange, with some gold & blue mixed in = potential recipe for disaster but we #makeitwork and #balanceoneanotherout ) Click here if you're interested to read about different personalities. It's very fascinating & makes you understand why people behave the way they do. Also helps you to get along better with others.

11. Embrace failure and fear.

I've learned firsthand that you cannot be successful in life if you're not willing to screw up. All those Disney songs about listening to your intuition and following you gut... are true. Except as an adult, you do need to take into consideration rational decision-making by weighing the pros & cons. I let fear of failure prevent me from switching career paths early on, for instance. I let fear of failure or rejection prevent me from taking more chances when it comes to my dating life for instance (even though I am picky and have certain expectations). If you think about it though, the worst possible result would be preventing myself from pursuing what I really want or just failing and having to climb back up. At this point in life, I can proudly say that I am quite used to rejection and fear and can only use it to strengthen myself and push myself forward. When you are guided by an internal compass, you learn to be accountable for your actions & it's the best feeling ever~

12. You get to take full responsibility of your life! HELLO, PRACTICALITY & RESPONSIBILITY

Sure, a lot of mundane shit sucks, & it's a whole lot of responsibility. Cleaning. Cooking. Bills. But you will never regret getting shit done. Personally, having a to-do list helps me to maintain my sanity. Attempting to stay organized. If you mess up, it's on you. If you succeed, it's on you. In any case, you get to celebrate the gloriousness & admit the failures that = your life.

13. Stay authentic and unique to who you are

A good friend of mine commented at my recent birthday party that I am "outstandingly direct" LOL. I've met naysayers who have mentioned that my personality is too strong/I call people out too much/I'm bossy/I'm intimidating (lol I find this funny because I'm really not!) that I oversell myself oh trust me the list goes on. I have always admired people who have this authentic aura (you can tell v obviously). I'm a proud (predominantly) ENFJ Orange + some Gold/Blue, I am q direct (and yes some people do get offended by it, and yes I do moderate accordingly) and I do see myself as an alpha woman who is honest and true to herself, who is adventurous, bubbly, goofy, determined, driven, hardworking, empathetic, supportive, assertive, caring, loyal, relatively funny & charming, and knows how to manage her own life (except I need to pass driving LOL cripie) and is consistently seeking to improve herself. Sure, I have my flaws (not gonna publicize them here). But like my favorite popstar Lady Gaga says, you were #BornThisWay #OwnYourself

14. Make your own decisions

This one is definitely challenging as a lot of us in our 20's do not have much life experience and would be well-poised to listen to mentors from our personal and professional networks who have more life experience. There is always that conflict between relying on our personal experiences and intuition and absorbing better life advice from others. I do think that we should still make our own decisions because that is what it truly means to be an adult, discover our own path and become who we really are.

15. Discover your passions and purpose (which do evolve as you change)

What I can currently say is that - I LOVE to travel, hike, blog, read, write, work out, explore places + meet people and my chosen career path is Marketing (Social Media & Communications, to be exact, because Marketing is a broad field). Think I'm doing a pretty good job balancing my passions, which will continue to evolve. My career purpose is to connect brands with consumers through compelling storytelling and marketing techniques. Honestly, marketing is such an exciting and fast-paced field, I just cannot wait to build my career and just soak up all the knowledge I can. Books + Certs, here I come. (But the good part is I actually cannot wait. & it's more than a 9-5)

16. Be Objective

We all know that most people are not objective. I just want to be able to maintain objectivity when making my own decisions, reading people & situations. It helps a lot (to maintain your sanity) and just seeing black & white. TBH, I am quite idealistic so it takes a bit of effort to see things objectively. & even when I do, I feel bad calling people out. So it depends on the situation, really.

17. Don't underestimate clean eating

Healthy eating is everything. Health is everything. It's really devastating when your relatives have Stage 4 cancer. I'm focusing on investing more effort into a relatively healthy diet. I'll place 80/20 to be realistic and move it up when I see more progress. Your body feels so much cleaner plus you get leaner too.

18. Travel, travel, travel

As a travel addict and #wanderluster, and someone who has lived in 3 different countries, I cannot emphasize how awesome travelling is. In fact, I eventually want to work in other countries for the experience. Despite how scary all the recent terrorist attacks have been, I hope this fear does not stop people from travelling to discover new and unseen places.

I value experiences over material goods (mostly haha). Even when you are on a tight budget like I was this summer, short trips to nearby islands, neighbouring countries and hiking trips just make you feel rejuvenated. Often, we do not appreciate a place for what it is till we leave. Also, too much time spent on our social media feeds just incities #fomo.

Every time summer comes, I learn to fall in love with Vancouver and its natural beauty. Despite the crazy housing and rental market, there is so much natural beauty that we need to stop and absorb. I will never ever tire of #BeautifulBC and my love for it just grows stronger the more I venture. Canada, as well. I will never forget the rugged and isolated beauty of Newfoundland. So many places left to discover like the rest of BC & Canada.

Even when I went back to Singapore this year, I no longer felt a strong sense of connection to the place. However, I learned to appreciate it for what it is - a gleaming and efficient concrete jungle. A sprawling metropolis with huge companies to work for that I might perhaps return to one day,

Travelling makes you appreciate that we are all really just wanderers of life. It makes you feel interconnected to those around you and makes you fall in love with the universe and opens your mind to the diversity of places that exist. It makes you feel like an insignificant speck in the universe, and challenges you to think about your role and impact in the world.

19. Explore your identity

My identity has evolved from a hippie chick/university nerd to alpha woman/free spirit. Maybe I was just obsessed with the idea that we all have to have a certain identity, but the truth is that we may not have a fixed identity. It changes as we pass through different life stages. What I know for sure is that I highly value my career and fitness.

20. Work out & take care of yo' skin

Yeaaaaah girl, fitness routine is everythang. Honestly, I alternate between different routines depending on what is the cheapest. Personal favorite budget options include - barre, classpass, groupons, rotating promotions on fitness apps etc. Beyond the vanity of wanting a flatter stomach and leaner legs, working out is just something that makes you feel strong and stay healthier. #GetYourGlowOn Also, a regular, intensive skincare & sunscreen routine is a must ~woot~

21. Doesn't hurt to have multiple income streams

For me, a steady 9-5 paycheque is ABSOLUTELY essential. I need that security and constant stream of income. Outside of that, I definitely am looking into different options to generate more income streams... passive income is always great.

22. Meaningful conversations are the best

Would ALWAYS opt for meaningful conversations in which we talk about more personal things like family, career, passions, fears, goals etc, & I'm so happy to have friends I can do this with! Small talk is fun but it gets tiring after a while.

23. Read, read, read

Pretty much everything. For me, mainly Marketing books (Social Media, Content Strategy) and non-fiction books. As well, gain useful certificates that increase my employability. Just chatting with professionals in my field gets me really hyped too!!!

24. Side hustle

Because I like to be *constantly* productive and also continuously expand my portfolio & skills, I need a side hustle (& creative outlet) which is currently blogging & being a micro-influencer & I'm looking to improve my photography and design skills as well.

25. Just do you & STOP COMPARING - LIVE YOUR OWN JOURNEY

Keep it simple, stay humble, work hard, have fun, be yourself and let the good times roll. My previous instinct to compare (let's be honest... who doesn't) just reinforced unnecessary misery and envy. Should I be in a serious relationship now? Should I be saving up for property? Because on social media we see the carefully curated side of things. It's all G L O S S + G L A M O U R but how real is it (which is why I want to use social media as a channel for good but I digress) As they say, the journey is as important as the destination & I want to savor the trajectory!

---

As usual, these are just some of my thoughts. Feel free to share away as always my dearest readers!

 

Post-Graduation Life! #Adulting

It's graduation season again!!!

To commemorate this exciting and daunting new chapter of many fresh grads' lives, I have drawn insight from those willing to share. The responses I received from recently graduated peers were really honest, interesting, inspiring, funny and heartening. Even though everyone's lives seem perfect on social media (I am completely guilty of comparison and still learning to "live my best life"), the constant thread I discovered was that we all experience struggles. I found this to be comforting and I hope readers are able to gain some insight from this and take away the fact that everyone's path is fraught with successes and challenges. The grass is NOT always greener on the other side. I hope these submissions remind people not to be deterred by inevitable setbacks that they will face.

Career

SL: I haven't graduated yet; will do a 5th year to finish my BA in Business Administration, Finance, Marketing, International Business and BS in Informatics in June 2018.

Career-wise, it hasn't changed a whole lot since I entered college; I still want to work at Microsoft long term. For the short term, because of my consulting and case competition experience, I hope to gain a full time offer with PwC after my internship with them in Management Consulting in the Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) sector this summer.

CM: I was extremely lucky because I received my job offer right before I went to write my last exam. I didn't know what industry I wanted either. The job offer I accepted was for a marketing position at a tech company, so I was really excited that I would get to try working in marketing right out of the gate but also slightly concerned how I would fit in since I do not consider myself a techie.

My plan was that I would work in marketing for a few years and then switch to HR, which theoretically seemed like an easier switch. After working in marketing, I'm not sure it's what I want to do, especially because I was the only person with purely marketing responsibilities in the company. So, I placed a lot of pressure on myself to know everything and be successful. It made me compare myself to s lot of other people working in their fields and question why I wasn't as happy or "successful".

Coincidentally, I was asked if I wanted to take on pre-sales job duties in addition to marketing after my 1st year at the company, and surprisingly I really liked it. I never expected to be interested in sales or want to work in the tech industry. I'm really grateful that I was granted new opportunities and got to try things I had actually placed on my list of "probably would never do". I haven't totally written off marketing as there are parts I enjoy doing and want to explore more, but I'm not sure if I want to do a purely marketing role. Overall, I feel excited about what I want to do next in my career and definitely learned not to write things off so quickly.

MW: Immediately after completing my program, I threw myself into study mode. For a lot of programs, you finish with final exams. For me, I still had a test to write. I graduated in 2015 with a BSc in Nursing, which meant that I had to write the NCLEX in order to work as a RN. So between the end of my program and my convocation date, I studied every day for about 3-4 weeks before I wrote the test. Luckily I passed, and then I got to walk across the stage to officially graduate. It was a very busy time for me. I focused on passing the final, and then finding a job. It took me about 5 months post-graduation to even get an interview, let alone a job anywhere. This was very exhausting because my bank account hated the lack of income. Even though I was still living at home, I still had expenses. I ended up taking a temporary job (completely unrelated to nursing) for a couple of weeks before my bank account hit a big fat $0 just to make ends meet.

Since finding a job, I went from working casually and living in the family home to getting a full-time job and moving out. Paying rent can be a huge downer at times, but the independence that I've gained from moving out has been amazing. After getting a full-time position as a RN, I feel like I've ticked a lot #adulting boxes: full time job, great benefits, government pension. It's basically the dream.

I'm really loving where I am right now in my life. There's a lot of flexibility with nursing, which is one of the great aspects of the career choice that I made. Future goals for me include buying a house in about 2 years. I also want to go back to school to further my education to specialize my practice. I haven't quite decided what nursing specialty I'd like to do, but I'm in no rush at this time to make any decisions on that. The beauty of my career path is that my employer will sponsor nurses for education so I don't have to worry about paying for my own tuition will be a huge perk for me when I consider what the next steps of my career will be.

KN: It took me 2.5 years to realize I was in the wrong career path, but I'm so glad I realize it now. I used to be someone who compulsively planned how I envisioned my career path would unfold. I felt like I was in a competition, in a race against others and it added to my internal anxiety. The real problem was that I lacked a REAL direction. After taking time off to really reflect and think about my strengths and passions, I have figured out a career area that I truly want to devote myself to. I hope to be more focused in pursuing it and actually being able to leave some sort of impact. I REALLY RECOMMEND THE QUARTER-LIFE BREAKTHROUGH (HI ADAM POLSWOLSKY U CHANGED MY LIFE) & WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH MY LIFE!

VT: My long-term vision of my career was to follow the footsteps of my father and be in a senior management position - but how to get there? I did not know. Even today, I do not have a step-by-step recipe to get there. I believe there is no cookie cutter path to success, there are multiple ways to get there - if I live to the fullest, work wholeheartedly, and learn a little something everyday, I believe I would achieve it.

Before graduating, I was convinced that I was going to work in an analyst role based on my degree specialization in Management Information Systems, and previous internship positions in business and data analysis. However, after a grueling and exhausting job-hunt, and nearly accepting an analyst role at a sub-par company from desperation, I was incredibly fortunate to be granted a consulting position at ACL. At that time, I remember feeling a bizarre blend of emotions of relief, joy and fear. Though I was super happy, I was afraid that I did not have what it took to perform at my role - I did not have the education (mainly accounting and audit management), nor the work experience (consulting). I knew it was going to be my most challenging experience yet.

As I write this, I have been with the company for nearly 2 months, and the experience thus far has exceeded my expectations. Though the work is challenging, the company provides vast resources and friendly colleagues to support me in my transition to my new role. On top of the fast-paced and high-quality work culture, this is an excellent environment to learn and thrive. As for where I see myself in the next few years? I enrolled into UBC DAP starting this September, and I will be taking night classes to pursue a CPA designation to further develop my skillset, and take my career to newer heights. Yep, it's back to school for me.

Friendships

SL: During my college years, I realized the bulk of people I meet are friends in passing, unfortunately. Recently, I have been trying to invest my time more in family and friends who I really cherish and who accept me the way I am.

Because as we grow older, our time is allocated to work, family and sleep, that limited time that we have in our days naturally needs to be tailored to people who we think are going to be there long term or people we can rely on to have truly emotionally intimate connections with. It's really simple economics - the opportunity cost of "acquiring" new friends and nurturing that relationship as you get older increases drastically. This really became apparent as I entered the University of Washington, a school with ~40,000 undergraduates as a naive 18 year old freshman that I really needed to tailor my time to people who will be there beyond college.

S: I have always been selective with my friends. So in all honesty, I have managed to maintain contact with my close friends. I am proud to say that I have a handful of friends whom I trust and love completely. Unfortunately, most of my friends are spread across different countries, but if there is one thing growing up has taught me not to discount, it is the support friends are able to provide you in terms of need. Making the effort to stay in touch, and visiting one another goes a long way.

I have learned to distance myself from people who bring negativity into my life or who bring me down in some way. Moreover, I have understood the significance of boundaries within friendships. My friendships have evolved into one of the best support systems in my life. Across countries, my girlfriends and I support each other continuously. We have also found a way to become blatantly honest with each other without taking offense. Our friendships matured and when conflict arises, we resolve it calmly and rationally with each other. Friendships are very important in life and should be treasured.

VT: Growing up as a 3rd culture kid, I met and became friends with many people from around the world. Though I made many friends, many had left to other parts of the world to pursue higher education. However, there are always those friends that no matter how much time has passed since being in contact, things feel the same when you meet them. Taking time off allowed me to reconnect and catch up with old friends, and I absolutely loved every minute of it. My point is friendships after university are similar to what I experienced in high school - people leaving to pursue their dreams and goals, no matter if it's another city or country. When we do meet, it was as if no time has passed between us at all.

Family/Living Situation

SL: I have never moved in my life yet as I've travelled to all continents except Antarctica and Africa. There is a part of me that kinda wishes she went out of state for school. However, since I'm the only child, only niece, and only granddaughter on her mom's side and because I have really old parents, I still think it's good for me to stay in Seattle to be with my relatives as time is also running low.

S: Going back to live with my parents after staying abroad by myself for 3 years was quite challenging. I was used to being independent, and dictating my own schedule of waking up, going to school, going out and sleeping.

Now, I feel that my parents have realized that, yes, I am a grown up and they give me my space and privacy. As I have grown, I feel that my parents and I have established a mutually respectful relationship. I have also come to realize and understand that my parents truly just want the best for me, and will love and support me in everything I do. I have also realized that being a parent is a very difficult task, and commend the way in which they raised my sisters and I. I have come to truly appreciate my parents' presence in my life, and the instrumental role they have played in making me the person I am today. Moreover, I recognize that they are both getting older, and though that makes me a little sad, I cherish every moment we spend together a little more than I used to. 

KN: I'm super duper lucky to be living with my parents, even though I have to adhere to their cleanliness standards. Vancouver rent is crazy and would just eat up all of my savings. I pay them a sum for rent and will definitely increase the amount soon. I am also saving up to purchase my own property in this crazy Vancouver market.

Personal Interests

SL: I really like playing tennis, hiking, travelling. I like singing karaoke and going out with friends.

S: After graduating from school, I felt a bit lost, hobbies-wise. I realized then that I always had my daily schedule planned in school. Now that I no longer needed to study, I felt bored in my spare time.

However, I found it liberating as I began to develop my own interests and realize what I liked and did not like. I always knew I loved reading, but I began to truly see that my favorite genre of books was historical fiction. I also realized that I love going to museums, and keeping up to date with pop culture.

Self Identity

SL: Growing up in Seattle as an ABC (American Born Chinese), it has always been hard to find that middle ground between being "white" and being "Asian". However, as I've grown up and found friends who are the same level of "Asianness" as me, I've become much more comfortable in my own skin and have learned to be extremely proud of my own race.

CM: I think this was the hardest thing that came with graduating. In university, I was pretty involved which led to having a lot of amazing opportunities in my 4th year. I knew I wasn't the smartest girl in the room so i tried to compensate by getting involved. Leaving university, I saw myself as someone who was recognized as a leader, an active volunteer, won entrepreneurship competitions with her team, helped lead other teams to placing at regionals plus I graduated and had a full-time job. Honestly, I felt pretty satisfied with myself.

Once I started working, that changed a lot. Essentially, I had all of these "standard goals" that I was working towards: get good grades, graduate from high school, get into a good university (and get good enough grades) and get a good job. Now that I had reached the end, it felt like a huge relief that I made it. After a couple months, I started to think, what's next? I've reached the end, I have a good job, but what am I going to do now? If you think about it, the current retirement age is 65, which means I have another 43 years of working. What else am I going to do with my life?

This freaked me out. The first year or so post-grad was definitely the hardest and forced me to redefine who I was and where I wanted to go. I had envisioned for myself that I would be this high-achieving career woman, and still want to work hard and achieve a lot in my career, but now I also want to have more to my identity than that and it's what I'm working on now. I've been focusing on trying new things and hobbies, travelling, exploring my city because I was so stuck in my little bubble in university, and placing more focus on friends, family and relationships. I still have a lot of progress to make, but I'm happy with where I've gone so far.

S: Discovering my self-identity is a journey that I have come to realize will never end. Introspection and self-reflection are highly important in establishing a sense of self.

My self-identity also underwent an immense growth period after I experienced my first heartbreak. My first experience with heartbreak helped me grow immensely as a person. I saw that I had lost a part of myself in that relationship, but also realized that I did not have to be strong and independent all the time. It is okay to be vulnerable with someone, and takes a lot of courage and trust to do. I learnt how to set boundaries for myself and the other person, and I came out of the relationship with a clearer understanding of what I wanted and accept from a life partner. I had to be accountable for the good and bad things that happened in my relationship. This is extremely important in maintaining a good relationship with myself.

I push forward in life with a stronger sense of self. I still don't know what life holds for me, and where I will be going in my journey, but I am not as anxious as I used to be. Instead, I feel acutely a strong sense of calm within me, pushing me forward in my life. My self-discovery journey is still ongoing, and I look forward to seeing what each new day brings.

KN: I am in the process of learning to be more honest with myself,  letting go of the need for external approval, pushing past my own fears, accept myself, appreciating people for who they are, not saying "yes" to commitments I don't want to attend (who has the energy for that?), not apologizing for being myself (#selflove) , basing my self-worth on social comparisons (it's challenging with the prevalence of social media, but I sometimes take a digital detox. I am trying to use social media as a platform to discuss issues that I am passionate about). I just want to pursue what I really want in terms of my career and life. I am naturally an extrovert and LOVE people, but am learning to be more mellow - I now think that time to just reflect on my own life, and enjoy the small moments in life are super important. I don't want to live a life of regret and want more ownership and control over my life. I am learning to make more rational decisions by weighing the pros and cons instead of acting on impulse, because I really have to be more mature and responsible as I'm not getting any younger. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason and don't think it is selfish anymore to put myself first, fulfill my needs and enjoy the journey (because yes, life IS a beautiful crazy wild amazing journey #cheesyAFbuttrue).

Romance

SL: I'll be real - I wish I knew how to date and being in Seattle with not as many Asians as let's say Hongcouver or even just Canada in general, I hope I can find someone who, in the words of Ed Sheeran, "be loving [me] till we're 70."

--

 

Strut Like a Boss - Tips for having a workplace-worthy wardrobe

Introduce yourself and what you do for a living.

Debbie: I’m a Singaporean-Chinese gal who has been a proud Vancouverite since moving here in ’92. Although I went to school for History and Publishing, I am presently working as a Financial Services Representative at TD Canada Trust. While I am happy in my current role, I hope to one day find employment more closely suited to my academic degree and passions (ie. writing, being outdoors, or fashion). Check out my ootds @debsta11211.

Jo: Hello Amigos ! It's Jonathan here. But I'd rather be called Jo or Nathan. :) I am a full time IT Marketing Professional and part time fashion blogger in Vancouver, Canada. It was because of my passion for fashion marketing, buying and fashion studies which gave me a vision to inspire others to live a fashionable life from a man's perspective. Hence I divulged into creating an uber chic yet fashionable instagram (@Jonathanho1) and my blog (www.waichingswall.com).

 

What inspires your passion for fashion?

Debbie: From a young age, I developed a fascination with personal style and fashion through my avid consumption of film and media. As a child, I remember rifling through my mother’s wardrobe for the bright business clothes that she wore when she was a secretary in the 80’s. I would then take the shirts, blouses, skirts, and even heels (although those obviously didn’t fit!) and try to incorporate them into my own outfits. As I grew older, I loved watching classics such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s, My Fair Lady, and Funny Face (anything with Audrey Hepburn); after watching these over and over, I’d often dream about the day when I could afford to buy my own wardrobe. Nowadays, I find myself constantly inspired by bloggers, instagrammers, and street style that I see outside work in downtown Vancouver. 

Jo: I believe fashion is everywhere. It stems from the way you look at life, to way you want others to perceive you. I studied fashion and met several designers over tea, drinks and its wonderful to learn and be inspired from stalwarts in the fashion industry. However I always try to adapt the brand to my existing style.

How would you describe your workplace dress code?

Debbie: While the banking environment calls for anything between business formal to business casual, I would admit that I often wear whatever I like as long as it is relatively conservative. The guys at my workplace invariably must wear suits, ties, and dress shoes; however, the girls are able to get away with a much wider variety of outfits. For instance, I can wear slacks, skirts, flats, heels, and sometimes even jogger pants (classy, woollen ones from Wilfred). 

Jo: At work I prefer to dress smart hence I always wear a jacket or a suit to keep it classy, and I do a mix-match of designer watches, shoes or sneakers depending on the day.

 

How would you describe your personal style and how has it been blending your professional and personal wardrobe?

Debbie: Although I certainly went through a tomboy phase during elementary school, my feminine side soon won out and gave me a long-lasting obsession with anything classy, elegant, and relatively timeless. I generally am drawn to bright statement pieces, love mixing prints, and am willing to try just about any trend as long as it doesn’t look horrible on me. However, in the interests of conserving closet space and my finances, I frequently must curtail my spending habits unless it is on an item that is: 1) high-quality, 2) will last for years and outlast trends, and 3) easily worn in the workplace. 

I must admit that I used to shamelessly buy armloads of clothes from cheaper establishments such as Forever 21, H&M, Topshop, and Sirens. However, after moving to an apartment and obtaining a full-time position, I realized that I could not sustain such shopping habits for low-quality clothes that could barely survive one washing. As a result, I’ve been leaning towards more classic pieces from Aritzia, Oak + Fort, Noul, and occasionally Topshop. 

Keep it classy, but don't be afraid to mix things up. Debbie is wearing: Coat // Anthropologie, Blouse // Topshop, Pants // T. Babaton via Aritzia, Shoes // Topshop

Keep it classy, but don't be afraid to mix things up. Debbie is wearing: Coat // Anthropologie, Blouse // Topshop, Pants // T. Babaton via Aritzia, Shoes // Topshop

Jo: My style is more Premium Street Chic. I wear several street wear brands as basics and top them off with really detailed designer accessories such shoes, eyewear, watches, cuffs, bracelets and bags. And they all blend in with my workwear too.  

Also as a fashion & lifestyle blogger in Vancouver I do attend events after work hours so there are days I need to have outfits that are work to play themed.

 

Tell me about some workplace must haves. 

Debbie: Even on the days/weeks/months where I don’t feel like putting any extra efforts into my outfits, I have created a foundation of workplace basics that allow me to look both professional and stylish with little-to-no effort. Turtlenecks are a huge obsession of mine as they can instantly dress up a look and usually are wrinkle-free. I’m also a big fan of high-waisted dress pants and slacks in neutral tones or easily-worn patterns (ex. pinstripes). Additionally, I would recommend getting a few vests, gilets, poncho/shawls and blanket scarves as these extra layers can really add to a plainer outfit. Lastly, shoes, shoes, shoes—having beautiful, comfortable heels can really give you the feeling of being a stylish powerhouse in the workplace. 

Fancying up turtlenecks with statements pants, Debbie is wearing: Turtleneck // Topshop, Pants // Zara, Shoes // Vince Camuto

Fancying up turtlenecks with statements pants, Debbie is wearing: Turtleneck // Topshop, Pants // Zara, Shoes // Vince Camuto

Jo: I never leave home without my mobile, power banks, all essential keys, planner and yes I always carry a diary where I make notes about things I love. At times I carry my camera with me too.

Tips for creating a workplace-ready outfit!

Debbie: As soon as you have the basic foundations of tops, bottoms, and shoes, it is now just a matter of creating the right combinations. I love buying neutral-toned pants or tops so that I can style them with bright statement pieces. Also, having some classy statement jewellery can have a huge impact on your overall ensemble—for instance, bracelets, bangles, statement earrings, and necklaces can lend towards a sophisticated air (whether you are or not). As well, when I feel like my outfit is too drab in terms of colour, I might wear a pair of brightly-coloured heels to add some drama!

All about bright statement pieces, Debbie is wearing: Turtleneck // H&M, Dress // Ever New, Bag // Tory Burch, Shoes // Calvin Klein

All about bright statement pieces, Debbie is wearing: Turtleneck // H&M, Dress // Ever New, Bag // Tory Burch, Shoes // Calvin Klein

Jo:  First up be planned and organized. I have all my outfits planned for an entire week because it saves me the time and hassle to look for stuff to wear each morning. If you are lost somedays in the morning and you are not sure of what you should wear always plan outfits with back up outfits too :). Well I know men do not have time and hate doing this. But for me personally it all stems from being who you are and how you see the world. I am a very organized and detailed oriented person hence there's no missing out.

Do you think the way you dress makes a big difference in the workplace and why?

Debbie: I believe that having a strong sense of personal style can go a long way towards building a sense of self-confidence in both the workplace and the wider world. In order to pin down which styles best suit yourself, you must first undergo a journey of self-discovery—which will undoubtedly be full of trial and error! I feel that when I am wearing a comfortable yet striking outfit at work, I feel much more confident as I am presenting a competent exterior through my dress.

Debbie incorporates TD's signature green into her personal style: Shirt // Sunday Best via Aritzia, Shirt // Skirt // Oak + Fort, Shoes // Vince Camuto, Jacket // H&M

Debbie incorporates TD's signature green into her personal style: Shirt // Sunday Best via Aritzia, Shirt // Skirt // Oak + Fort, Shoes // Vince Camuto, Jacket // H&M

Jo: First impression is the last impression. I remember my parents telling me this all the time when I used to attend interviews and they mentioned it to me time and again while growing up. The way you dress is a reflection of how you want to be treated. If you are laid back and hoodie kinda guy that's cool, however it does not work in a Bank or Airlines company. On the other hand if you work in retail you'd be dressing more stylishly because you want to appeal to your customers and hence help them shop more.

You've gotta up the style game and dress accordingly to where you work. Don't get me wrong people love to see others well dressed but why not put yourself first.

 

Tell us about some affordable places to shop at for great business clothes.

Debbie: When shopping for good quality business clothes, having a good nose for a good deal is the best tool you can utilize. For instance, I will shop the sales of Zara, Topshop, Aritzia, Anthropologie, COS, and Oak + Fort like there is no tomorrow. However, you might be able to find some good pieces at stores such as RW & Co. and H&M if you are careful to pick sturdier items of more classic design.   

Style guru Debbie recommends picking timeless pieces at sales. Turtleneck & Jogger Pants // Wilfred via Aritzia, Shawl Poncho // Anthropologie, Shoes//Zara

Style guru Debbie recommends picking timeless pieces at sales. Turtleneck & Jogger Pants // Wilfred via Aritzia, Shawl Poncho // Anthropologie, Shoes//Zara

Jo: For work wear I always shop at Ted Baker, Zara Man & Massimo Dutti. However the price points vary all the time and you can pick a good weekend sale to shop if you were me. Once in a while I do shop my work wear at Topman too. 

How can someone continue to improve and evolve their workplace style – what should that style be based on? 

Debbie: As workplaces vary greatly in nature, I would first establish what is permissible and what is taboo with regard to that particular work environment. When I first began at TD Canada Trust, I was convinced that I could only wear the most plain and conservative items while working at the bank. However, I soon observed that other women would wear bright, stylish makeup, jewelry, and clothes. Not surprisingly, I was soon wearing whatever I could get away with (and I’ve only been told to reign it in once or twice) as long as it didn’t show too much leg, cleavage, or arms. As a result, I would first work out what is allowable at work, collect statement pieces for certain seasons (ex. bright colours for spring and summer, darker neutrals for fall and winter), and always be willing to try a trend (as long as it doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg or make you feel uncomfortable). 

Jo: The sense of style and looking impressive originates from the person itself. It's all about how you want to be perceived as I mentioned in the above lines. Work place is serious business however a little mix-match of bright and dark coloured tones can make any outfit a real star. Also the way you dress might be an eye-opener to others and you could be the next trendsetter at work.

Additional Comments:

Jo: Feel free to follow my Blog ( www.waichingswall.com), Instagram (@Jonathanho1) and Facebook page ( www.facebook.com/WaichingsWall)

Keep it Chic!