Things I Wish I Knew in My Twenties: A Letter to My Son in 2031

I was actually thinking about being 50 in the next 10 years.  This made me think about the son who will be doubling his age by then.  So I made a list of what I want to tell him when he has or is around graduating college.  I hope that he (and other people in their twenties) finds, considers, and heeds bits of wisdom I can offer in this 2031 letter I am writing for him today at 2021.

Dear Liam,

It’s 2031 and you’re 20!  You might be getting ready for your bachelor’s degree graduation or have graduated already.  I know Daddy and I will be or was there, being the happiest, proudest and beaming-with-relief parents, but I am not sure if I am still as fervent to share the things I will be writing here today or if you will still be willing to listen to me enumerating these to you.  This list, I believe, will help you start treading the course of your adulthood wisely and if you follow even half of them, there’s no doubt, you would want to thank me later.

In your twenties, opening a bank account is not enough.  You have to set a goal towards a viable amount.

We opened your very first bank account when you were 7.  The monetary gifts you received on your birthdays and at Christmases all went there, except if you expressed a desire to buy something from the toy store. 

I assume you would have opened a non-kiddie account by this time.  Take a look at your passbook or statement and start setting a goal.  You will soon be working and earning.  I urge you to set aside 10 to 20% of your income from the very first salary you receive. If you are earning more and spending less, like if you’re still living with us, then you ought to save more.  I tell you, it will be fulfilling to see your growing fund month in and month out.  However, know that the Bank is not the end of saving.  Just keep your balance within the amount of a 6-month (cost of living) emergency fund.

Being a good citizen is being part of the Government system, no matter who sits in office.

With a degree under your belt, you might be in the process of finding a job.  I don’t exactly mean for you to literally work in the government (though, I don’t see any problem with it) nor to run for office (but I might have a big problem, if you do, depending on the kind of administration we have at this time).  What I mean is, for you to register in government-run offices like Social Security System (SSS), or Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-ibig) and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).  These will be automatically processed if you work at a big and established company, if not, you can register as a self-employed individual.

The first 3 offices I mentioned are insurance providers.  They deliver for your future financial needs (loans), for your and your future family’s health needs (hospitalizations) and for financial assistance at building your future home.  BIR is for paying your taxes and helping the nation rise and pay for the debts it incurred in the past.  It will be disheartening to see how much BIR cuts off from your salary, but I stress that we are good Filipino citizens and we should continue to pay our dues to our country.

Investing in Self-development is worthwhile in all aspects of your being.

Whether you put in money to enroll in classes of your liking or you spend your time in hobbies or causes that keep you grounded, do it!  I used to spend a chunk of my weekend in our church choir even when I was the only one left from my batch.  Most of the other members were students and needless to say that I was the oldest.  Everybody called me ‘ate’ and I was not sure whether I liked it or not but what kept me in was the opportunity to serve the Lord.  Even when I struggled with Laryngitis (voice misuse at work then singing in the choir on weekends), I stayed until I was 28 years old, that was when Daddy and I got married and we needed to move to another place within the city.

I hope you find something that fills your heart and that keeps your work-life balance.  It’s okay to spend your resources doing it if it’s the thing that is keeping you sane.  Daddy and I started you young when we spent our weekends in your taekwondo and math classes.  You also got to learn how to play the guitar when you were 8.  Maybe you will stay within your interests as a child like learning different languages, reading books, cooking, dancing and playing chess and io games on the computer.  You might even want to pursue further studies!  Whatever it is, keep at it if it truly gives you joy.

You will reap the rewards from your Health and Fitness Routine while you’re doing it and more so past your twenties.

If you are already engaging in sports, then good! An important part of taking care of yourself is being mindful of what you eat and making sure you get regular physical exercise.   I admit, we have not been good role models for you in this area when you were very young.  But in our late 30s, when signs of aging started surfacing, Daddy and I started to improve our ways.  Try to eat a healthy plate in every meal and I hope, you don’t gag with vegetables and fruits anymore.  Limit your salty, crunchy and sweet food cravings.  Maintain your water intake.  And avoid being a couch potato.  Exercise should be part of your daily activities!  Promise to do Zumba, not Tumba as you used to!

Having a healthy diet and regular exercise will help you keep your skin glowing.  If not, start searching for a good skin care routine.  Both Daddy and I were not blessed with flawless skin that is why I am including it here. If your breakouts started in high school or college, we might have addressed it already.  If we already did, please be religious in following the routine. Even if you are a boy, basic skin care is part of a good hygiene.  In this regard, my future daughter-in-law can thank me later.

Surround yourself with friends but work on keeping your family close.  You will need them both as you get older.

You are the sweetest, Liam!  When you were little, you loved being with us, your parents.  You were very vocal about it, too!  Not a day passed by when we did not exchange our I love You’s to each other.  At times, it was too much for Daddy, but for me, I cherished every moment of it.  I did because I knew, time would come when you would rather be with your friends than us. 

(You might want to read my post about Making and Keeping Friendship.)

Nothing’s wrong with wanting to spend time with your tropa or barkada, or whatever you call them now.  I know for a fact that it’s a stage in everyone’s life and you need it so you can find your true self.  In fact, I have long prayed for you to find or be found by friends who would instill a good influence on you, who will treat you like you’re their brother, who will love and support you and be there when you need them.  Granting my prayers were answered, I’m certain I know each and every one of them right now.

I would love for you to have fun with them, when you’re not with us.  And when you’re not with them, Daddy and I are the happiest if you’re spending time bonding with us like we used to.  We have a little family and we look forward for you to have your own family soon. 

Speaking of your future family and love life, don’t haste with yours.  There is no deadline in love.  Nothing’s wrong with having your first girlfriend when you’re 30!  But just like what we talked about, I truly hope that you remember to seek out the girl who is as kind as your mother.  Find the one who can also pray for you and your children just as I have prayed for you and Daddy each and every day.  I know that you will find her because I have also prayed for her, for you and my future grandchildren. 

Another important reminder for you, is to please respect all the people, girl or boy, in your life.  Friend, girlfriend, cousin, classmate, acquaintance or even just a stranger, treat them all with respect.  You do not do anything you want with a person just because you think you can.  Treat everyone around you with kindness and respect, because you can.

You’re never too young to explore a side-gig for extra profits. Why not start in your twenties?

Being young does not mean you spend all your free time and your youth partying.  You may opt to be more productive and try dipping your foot in business.  I have always believed that business is the way to go if you aim to build a fortune. 

Align your ventures with a passion or with something that you have fun doing.  If you think, you cannot do it on your own, find a trusted partner who can build it with you. It can be us, your parents, another relative or a friend.  After you have saved enough for a first venture, do your research and due diligence.  Start small.  If you think you’re ready then get ready to jump.  Taking risks is one of the perks of being young.  Because if it fails, then you have a lot of time picking up the pieces and trying again.  I cannot assure you of success but I am definite, you will learn a lot as I have in my time.  Use these learnings and be more confident in your next venture.

While you’re exploring on other means to earn, and your emergency fund is sitting pretty in your bank account, start building your investment portfolio.  Start by purchasing an insurance plan from a private company.  Ten years ago, the forerunners were Pru Life UK, Manulife Canada and Sun Life.  Back then, buying yourself a VUL is a trend.  This is the Variable Universal Life Insurance which combines a life insurance policy with a savings component.  While you are being protected, you get a cash value after a set term.  Now is the best time to purchase an insurance policy because the younger you are, the lower your premium (the amount you pay at regular intervals) will be.  Plus you get to enjoy the cash value that you get when you’re a bit older.

Later, you can start learning about the other forms of investments:  bonds, funds and stocks.  I learned about all these when you were a baby because I so badly wanted to provide for you!  I was 30 then.  If only, somebody wrote me a letter like this..  Google them today and get an idea so you can plan when you can start with your investments.

There are a lot of other ways to invest your earnings but I am sure if you have done the basics, the rest will be easier to do, as long as you keep on saving.  As you get older, with a family of your own, earning and saving will be like second skin.  You would save up all you can because you would want to give your family everything you can.

Lastly, prayer is a life necessity. With bended knees, it will also be easy to keep your feet on the ground.

At your age, everybody will be abuzz with their success.  I once told you that success is relative so you don’t need to compare yourself with others.  Well, I am saying it again.  You were very competitive when you were young and you tended to measure your worth at whether you win or lose at a competition.  It was very hard to explain it to you, then, but I think you got the gist of it when I asked you to tell me what is in your heart.

If something makes you sad, such as a loss at a game, neither God nor your parents (and all the other people and things that you love) leave your heart.  They stay there forever.  Use your heart to measure your success.  Dispel anything that keeps you from being happy.  If you find that it is you or what you have done, find it in your heart to forgive yourself first.  If you do, everything else will be easier.  You will have peace and true happiness.  That, for us, is success.

If you turn out to be very successful and I pray that you will, stay humble.  No need for the whole world to know.  You have seen how your parents kept posting on social media at a minimum, all because we believed, there was no need to.  Just give thanks to the Lord and share your blessings.  I promise you, He will put a rain of more blessings on you and your family.

Finally, in whatever you do, pray.  When you were 10 years old, you aimed to read the entire Bible in one year.  Your love for the Word of God, no matter how literal you understood it then, was very inspiring.  I pray that you keep and live by God’s Word all the days of your life and remember that He lives in your heart.

I love you, Liam!  And Daddy does, too! Have the best life!

Love,

Mommy

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