What I Learned One Year After College Graduation

One year ago, I was standing under the lights of Pauley Pavilion, my robe swishing behind me, my decorated cap on my head. A nervous energy was bubbling up inside of me as I was surrounded by likeminded individuals who were all here for the exact same reason as me — to graduate from UCLA as the Class of 2016. The pent up excitement released and drowned my nerves as I turned the tassel on my cap to the left. From that moment, the rest of my life began.

Since then, real life has shown its true colors and provided me with its fair share of life lessons outside of the classroom. Although I owe a lot of what I know now to UCLA, here are some of the life lessons that I learned and cultivated in my first year as a post-graduate that I would not have known as an undergrad.
  1. Invest in yourself.

    College institutions can be draining and exhausting, both mentally and physically. But with college done, you can really spend time to use that mental and physical energy and focus on yourself. Take time to reflect and think about what you want to do now to make your present and future self happy. What are the areas in your life you want to nourish or improve on? Personally, I invest in myself by following a morning routine, practicing mindfulness and doing hot yoga. Whatever it is that you want to do to invest in yourself, just remember that the next couple of years should be all about developing yourself into the best possible version.

  2. Do what brings you joy and eliminate the things that don’t.

    This life is too short to not do things that bring you joy. If you don’t know what sparks joy inside of you, here is a simple exercise: write down everything that makes you happy and joyful, then write down the things that don’t bring you joy. Deep down, you know what you love and what brings you joy, but it takes recognition and acknowledgement to understand them. Ultimately, those will be the things that fuel you throughout the rest of your post-grad days, and will empower you to use your gifts and talents to share to the world. As Marie Kondo said in her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, “Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle.”

  3. Mistakes are meant to be learned from.

    Just because you have a college degree and 4 years of college experience under your belt doesn’t mean you won’t make more mistakes, because you definitely will. And that’s completely fine. As long as you do not dwell on it and instead use it as a lesson in your life, it is perfectly fine to make mistakes. Stephen R. Covey said in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “Our response to any mistake affects the quality of the next moment. It is important to immediately admit and correct our mistakes so that they have no power over that next moment and we are empowered again.”

  4. You will always be a student for life.

    Learning never stops outside of the classroom. There is so much in life to learn, and luckily, we live in an era where education is at our fingertips. Just scroll through the millions of YouTube tutorials that are out there. I personally owe a lot of my knowledge to the internet, and I constantly use it as a resource to learn about things I’m interested in that I couldn’t learn as an English major, such as graphic design and brand building. Recently, I completed my first UCLA Extension course on Design Fundamentals, and it was all for free since I graduated from UCLA (here is the link if you are a UCLA alumnus as well!). There are tons of resources for free online courses besides YouTube, such as Lynda.com, Udemy.com and Skillshare.com (I just recently got 2 free months of Skillshare Premium from Lavendaire, who is also a big advocate of being a student for life. Check out her video if you’re interested!). There is so many resources and different opportunities to take advantage of, so soak it up as much as you can in this life.

  5. Friendships are no longer “convenient”. You truly have to make an effort.

    Sometimes we may be lucky to see some of our old college friends every once in awhile, but the truth is, you are no longer part of a college bubble where your friends are easily accessible. Convenience is no longer something you have when it comes to those friendships. If you want to foster relationships, you have to make a true effort to see and talk to them. It gets more difficult when you start a full-time job and start investing in your life because that means less chances of seeing your friends. As a result, you will most likely not be as close to your college friends as before. To prevent complete erasure though, carve out time out of your week or month to catch up with an old friend and grab dinner to continue building those relationships. It may be hard to find time that works best for both parties but even without the convenience, it’s not impossible to keep those life-long friendships.

  6. Reflection helps create clarity and reach goals.

    The future is not constant, and sometimes things don’t go your way. But reflection really allows you to step back and take a look at what you have been doing so far in your life and how you can adjust and improve. Making reflection a daily habit has been known to develop a clearer sense of mind and self, improved productivity, and higher rate of success. For 2017, I started practicing monthly reflections in my Passion Planner and have always found it helpful to look myself from the inside out and dive deep into how I can better myself.

  7. Find time to live new experiences.

    Life can get mundane once you’re in the work force, so make sure that you spend time to travel and live new experiences. Go to Coachella, check out the free concert series at Santa Monica, be a tourist in your own city, fly out to Portland or Seattle for the weekend. Work should not be meant to only pay the bills and make a sustainable living. You should also use the money to color and enrich your life with experiences and memories. When you think about this long term, carving out time for new experiences refreshes your mind, improves creativity and work ethic, and inspires you to try more new things and explore new passions.

  8. Save, save, save!

    This is something that I still struggle with, but saving is such an important facet of adulthood. You can no longer rely on financial aid every quarter to uplift your bank account every time you’re in a rut. When you get your paycheck, make it a habit to put 10-20% of that money to your savings. Have saving goal buckets so that you have something to pool from when you need it for a specific reason. My paycheck automatically deducts 20% of the money to go towards my travel fund and emergency fund. It’s a bit of a pain, but your future self will send you lots of love for it.

  9. Sometimes serendipity comes out to play. Enjoy it.

    As much as we can plan for our day, our week, our lives, life can still throw curveballs at you and unravel your plans. They can be annoying and discouraging, but sometimes it can be a beautiful addition to the value and meaning of life. Besides, what is life without the struggle? We would just be stagnant and lifeless without anything to learn from. So enjoy that serendipitous moment when it comes and appreciate the fact that it’s happening and enriching your life.

  10. You can live day by day, but don’t forget to think of the bigger picture.

    It’s easy to get caught up in the daily 9-5 and just go home and mindlessly scroll through social media or watch Netflix without a care in the world. Take time during your week or month to sit down and make a plan of what you want to do in one year, in 5 years, and even 10 years. For me, this has always been a difficult thing to do since I can barely plan my week, but it’s so important to think about the vision you have in your life and to not forget about what you truly want out of life. Simply writing down where you visualize yourself in 5 years is enough to help you think bigger picture.

  11. Community is out there, as long as you ask and seek for it.

    Community was the biggest thing that got me through college, so when I graduated, the biggest transitionary struggle I faced as a post-grad was the lack of community. I used to have spaces where I felt grounded in solidarity and comfort. It was a place of belonging. I spent a good deal of my first year of post-grad seeking communities in alumni networks, camp counselor sessions, dance classes, yoga classes, blogs and YouTube channels. Eventually I found a sense of community in places I never thought I would — my old friends and my work team. Community is out there if you are looking for it, it just takes more effort to put in those same community values you’ve learned from your experiences into new spaces.

  12. We have time. Take advantage of it.

    Be proactive and take initiative of your time. It’s hard to believe this, but our 20s is filled with time and space to learn something new, to find a new trajectory for our life, to find and grow new passions. All you have to do is start now. So go out there and show the world your worth!

Thank you for reading, and congratulations to the class of 2017! If you have any other lessons you have learned after graduation, or even from life, let me know in the comments! 🙂

The Biggest Millennial Soul-Searching Question I Asked Myself

When I started this blog, it was meant to be a space to showcase my travels, to express myself creatively and to share the life lessons of a millennial fresh out of college. Right after I graduated, I looked forward to writing about my experiences and putting my thoughts and opinions out there for the interweb on Skyline Soul

However, life has been putting me in a weird funk lately. I have been in a constant period of re-evaluating and re-assessing my life decisions, and I realized my heart was tugging me in different directions when it came to pursuing the things I was passionate about. This led to the decision to take a small break from blogging and social media. I enrolled in an online Design Fundamentals course from UCLA Extensions. I started getting more involved with hot yoga at Core Power and fell so in love with the practice that I extended my membership there. After Coachella this year, I worked on editing a vlog, which was something I hadn’t done in months and what I wanted to pick back up again. I was exploring and soaking in all my learnings and experiences. And why shouldn’t I? As a 22 year old who spent the last 4 years of college balancing multiple extracurriculars, internships and part time jobs, this exploration period was natural to me.

But then one day, I was faced with the biggest soul-searching question of my post-grad life. “Am I an expert at the things that I love to do?”

I was stumped. I thought of everything that I loved to do and what I thought I was good at. Some things that came to mind were photography, videography, editing, writing, storytelling and design. But the love and the levels of expertise were not aligned. To say I was an expert at all would be an exaggeration. I was too well-rounded to be good at anything.

I came to an answer and conclusion: I have no expertise in anything, especially in the things I love the most. I love all things creative, but to call myself an expert in any of the things I loved would be a lie.

The only thing I can call myself is a jack of all trades, a master of none.

At first, my immediate reaction to this new revelation was to internally panic. Most people my age or younger were already so skilled in their craft of choice. I knew plenty of my peers who already spent years working on a wide portfolio of artwork to showcase. They cultivated their interests into something that could be worthwhile.

However, I realized that I was falling for the comparison trap. My peers’ journeys are different from mine. “A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms.” I am still continuing to grow during this process of adulting, and I have no regrets with how I spent my 4 years of college. Every moment of exploration was my own way of cultivating my interests. In the end, I am happy to have learned and dabbled in the things that interested me, and I am proud of myself for taking the leap to try and make this blog a valuable resource to the lifestyle and travel community.

My goal now is to finish my design course, flourish my creative visual photography skills through Instagram, become more involved in the YouTube community, and blog once or twice a month when another travel adventure comes up. For now, I want to prioritize my personal life, my full-time job and my interests and passions that I feel will matter the most to me before I broaden my horizons with my blog.

This is not a goodbye, but rather a departing, stepping stone to become the best possible version of myself.

If you have read this far, I have a challenge for you — what are you an expert at? That’s great! Continue to cultivate that area, or step out of your comfort zone and find something new. You will be surprised at the high level of expertise you can hone in life.

Thank you for reading and enjoy the rest of your days! ❤️

Why Decluttering Your Mind Is Important For Your Mental Health

April is finally among us and I’m so excited to kick off this new month with the things I learned from last month. The overall theme for March was to “be minimal”. I really took that to heart since embracing a more minimal lifestyle is one of my goals for 2017. I learned that being minimal does not necessarily mean upending your whole apartment and getting rid of everything in your life. It goes beyond that through minimizing the clutter in your mental space and putting more intention into your thoughts and actions.

After completing MuchelleB’s Simplify Your Life Challenge and reflecting on this past month, I realized that decluttering your mental space is just as important as decluttering your physical space. Here are some reasons why.

You will know what makes you happy.

To put it simply, figuring out the diversification of your happiness is the first step to sifting through the junk in your mind. This article from YesandYes really opened up my eyes to what diversifying your happiness means and how you can define what that for yourself.

To get an idea of that “diversified happiness”, here are some of the things that make me happy:
  • Walking into an open, spacious cafe, ordering tea or a white mocha latte, and sitting down at a spacious table with plenty of outlets to get work done.
  • Having an intense work out at Flywheel or Core Power and feeling like I destroyed my body but also strengthened it.
  • Editing and completing a video and feeling happy with the final result
  • Engaging in deep conversations with friends at random places like Panda Express

You have a clearer picture of what you should give no f*cks about.

Let’s be real — caring too much about certain things really takes up a lot of mental energy. In reality, it’s better to literally not give a f*ck about what you truly don’t care about. It helps to clear up your mental space and eliminate unnecessary overthinking. The trick to this is to write down everything that comes to mind that you are unsure about, and make the final decision whether to care or not. For me, I have fully decided to not care about what other people think and disregard people that do not add value in my life.

You are grateful for the smallest things.

Gratitude is such an important part of mental decluttering. When you practice gratitude, you see life through a different perspective and learn to understand that although life can get hard, there are still reasons to wake up every day and to still love the life we live. Practicing gratitude helps when you get very specific. It can be simple as, “I am grateful for the smell of candles in the morning” or as specific as, “I am grateful for my mom for cooking Pilipino food when I visit.”

You become smarter with your finances.

Finances is a struggle for everyone, and worrying about money takes up so much mental space. The best thing to do is to tackle it straight on. Engage with your bank statements, figure out what expenses you need to invest in, come up with a robust savings plan and stick to the budget. Keeping to a system will ultimately clear off the weight on your shoulders and free your mind for other important matters.

You eliminate negative attitudes.

It’s so hard to fully take out the negative attitudes and mindsets that infiltrate our brains, but identifying them and targeting them so that they phase out is the first step to eliminating it. Once you identify that negative attitude, figure out the reasons why your brain sticks to it and combat it with evidence that proves the opposite of that negative mindset.

Your goals are clearer and you stay true to your commitments.

I personally have so many goals that sometimes I don’t even know which one to tackle first. There are so many things I love to do and I want to do it all. But the truth is, there is only so much your body can handle without burning out. Respect your goals, commitments and body by prioritizing, figuring out what should take more importance and sacrificing anything that shouldn’t take up time throughout your day or scheduling it for later in the week. Ask yourself what the intention is behind the commitments you have and if it is worth it for you. This will create more long term efficiency and happiness.

You are present minded and mindful.

Sometimes for me, the future is constantly looming ahead of me and the past is always haunting behind me. Honestly, none of it matters because we are living in the now. The future and the past do not affect how you can take action in the present. We sometimes forget that we are in control of the driver’s wheel and that the past and future should only serve as guiding points. Some ways you can practice mindfulness is to check in with your body every once in awhile and try out meditation. (Headspace is a great app if you want to start!)

You take care of yourself and your general wellbeing. 

Mental decluttering teaches you how to take better care of yourself and how to love yourself, which ultimately leads to a well-balanced, beautiful life. Soon you will live the best possible version of yourself after take the time to mentally declutter.

The Simplify Your Life Challenge is officially over for me, but the journey to continue decluttering both my physical and mental spaces is just beginning.

Thank you for reading ❤️ Let me know in the comments if you have any other ways of decluttering your mind and body! I’d love to hear more.

How to Fall In Love with Yourself: Tips and Thoughts on Self-Love

In the month of February, it is common to think we need someone else to love. It is common to think that the solution to filling the empty void is to have other people or commitments fill in that space. At first it seems to work, but it is only a quick fix, a temporary wholeness that can be taken away at any moment. Relying too much on external factors for your own happiness and wellness only makes you unhealthy, especially if you put 100% of your time and energy into something so fleeting.

In the end, the only person that can fill the empty void inside and make you feel truly happy is yourself. That’s where self-love comes in. Self-love doesn’t just mean loving yourself, it means putting energy in living a full, intentional life and spreading that love from the inside out. It means being yourself with confidence despite the flaws and mistakes. It is only when we love ourselves that we begin to see it reflected to other people and spaces. Before you can love and care for others, you have to invest time and energy in the longest relationship you will ever have — yourself. Basically, you have to fall in love with yourself before you can love anything else.

My personal journey to self-love began nearly 3 years ago when I took a giant leap to leave the country and travel to Europe for a study abroad program where I knew absolutely no one. At the time, I was at a place in my life where I relied too much of my happiness in my college academics, in other people and in other spaces. But the happiness and love wasn’t there. I had many doubts about traveling alone, but I knew that it was the thing I wanted to do for myself. Now that I look back, making this choice to study abroad was a life changing decision that propelled me into becoming a better version of myself. When you are out alone in another continent, you open yourself to new people and new places and discover yourself in ways that would not have happened.

I came up with 7 things that have helped me on my journey to self-love. I know a LOT of people have shared their thoughts on how they think you should practice self-love, but I honestly just wanted to share my two cents and contribute to the conversation. These things are obviously not the only ways to achieve self-love, but since I am speaking from personal experience, they have worked for me and if you try it out, I hope they work for you too.
  1. Step out of your comfort zone and do things alone. In other words…have a date with yourself! I know that sounds weird, but I realized that if I wanted to be comfortable in my own skin and find love within myself, I had to do things alone. I used to feel so much fear from doing things alone, but after traveling alone and attending events and places alone, I actually prefer it. There’s less expectation for you to fit a certain mold and you can actually be yourself. You also discover a lot about yourself when you are alone than if you were with someone else. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should neglect your social spheres and there’s a time and place for everything, but it helps to step away from that social life and give time for yourself once in awhile.
  2. Write everything out. Writing for me is an incredible outlet for me. It helps to let go of all internalization of negativity and actually puts thoughts, emotions and memories into words, which can be very therapeutic when you contain it into one place. When I let everything out through writing, I feel like the stress and burden has been lifted from my shoulders and I have more space for myself. If writing isn’t for you, there are many outlets you can try to let go of your burdens.
  3. Understand your flaws and move on from your mistakes. We are human. It is in our blood to have limitations and make mistakes that cause obstacles in our journey to love ourselves. But they shouldn’t make you feel inept or incapable. Understanding your boundaries and moving on from your mistakes will allow you to breach those boundaries and to re-define who you are as a person. There’s an empowering quote from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People on the importance of moving on from mistakes:

    “Our response to any mistake affects the quality of the next moment. It is important to immediately admit and correct our mistakes so that they have no power over that next moment and we are empowered again.”

  4. Take time to do the things you love to do. This ties back to stepping out of your comfort zone. If you love something, do it, even if it scares you! It took me awhile to realize that traveling, creating, blogging, spinning and even dancing were things that I enjoyed and loved to do. Doing the things you love will make you a much happier person you can live with and your future self will thank you for letting things you love into your life.
  5. Keep track of what you are grateful for. Sometimes even the smallest recognition of things we are grateful reminds us that there are moments in life worth living for. Gratitude is a strong component of self-love and when you look back, it only fortifies that love for yourself when you see that there is a lot of to love in life.
  6. Reflect. The path to ultimate, true self-love is actually very difficult. One way I try to achieve it however is reflecting every month on what I have done, what I am grateful for and what I need improvement on. This really helps map out my trajectory of my life and my growth and points out areas where I can become a better person. I write about reflection in this blog here if you want to check it out!
  7. Self-love is not selfish. It’s important to understand that yes, you should make an effort to love and take care of yourself. Whether that’s treating yourself to tacos once in awhile or taking a bath after a long day of work, do whatever it takes to make you fall in love with yourself. Just do not forget why you need to love yourself in the first place. It can be to live a happy, intentional life and share that with everyone, to radiate that love they feel for themselves to others, or it can even be an act of self-preservation and political warfare. Whatever that reason is — keep reminding yourself that.

I want to end this post with a poem from Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey that really resonates with me and adds to what I think self-love should look like.
“I do not want to have you
to fill the empty parts of me
I want to be full on my own
I want to be so complete
I could light a whole city
and then
I want to have you
cause the two of
us combined
could set it
on fire.”

I hope this post helped somehow! If you have any more self-love tips, please let me know in the comments!

Turn Your New Year Resolutions into New Year Reflections

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Happy first Monday of 2017! I love this time of year because you can see a certain glow in people’s faces at the prospect of a new year. It’s an opportunity to start with a clean slate, set new goals for yourself and continue growing and learning from new experiences.
A lot of my friends are especially excited to start afresh with 2017 since 2016 was a particularly difficult year for many. Although I do agree 2016 had its hard moments, I can’t help but feel grateful for all the good things that happened to me this past year. I owe that feeling mostly due to setting yearly goals and complementing them with a process of reflection. After reflecting on this past year, I feel like I have a clearer, deeper understanding of my long-term vision and how I can use my 2016 experiences as a stepping stone for more growth in 2017.
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I know creating New Year Resolutions is still a common practice, but only 8% of people actually achieve those resolutions. So instead of creating New Year’s Resolutions that may or may not be fulfilled, turn them into New Year’s Reflections!
My two resources for reflection are Passion Planner and Lavendaire. I love the Passion Planner because it has already made reflection a habit for me since there is a monthly reflection space within the planner itself.
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Lavendaire also has a great blog post on 5 ways to create an amazing New Year. Although her blog post was written in 2015, the questions are still very applicable to this new year and inspired me to delve into my own process of reflection.
Based on what I learned from these resources, here are some themes and example reflection questions you can ask yourself!
Accomplishments
  • What are some of the things you accomplished this past year?
    • For this question and for the following questions, you can list out a number of them that corresponds to the year! For example, I tried to write at least 16 accomplishments for the year of 2016.
Highlights
  • What are some of the highlights from this past year?
Lessons
  • What are the lessons you learned this past year?
Time Management
  • Are you happy with how you spent your time this year? What steps can you take to adjust the time you’ve spent?
Evolution
  • How did your life evolve and how is your life different today than it was a year ago?
Invitations
  • What do you want to invite in your life?
Gratitude
  • What have you been grateful for this past year?
Self-Improvement
  • What are some things you can improve on for the next year and what are some concrete action steps you can take?
Theme
  • What is the recurring theme you want to set for the new year?
Regardless of time and new year, it’s never too late to take the time and reflect on your past so that you can shape your present. We are living in the now, but it is important to remind ourselves what we’ve been through and what we can do to better ourselves. I wish you all a 2017 filled with happiness and success. Thanks for reading!

Adulting 101: The Perks and Pains of Post-Grad

The sun’s setting faster, the air is getting cooler and the people of LA are rushing for their orders of pumpkin spice lattes to warm themselves up from the climate change. Summer is finally coming to the end, and so is my third month of post-grad.
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To be honest, I have been meaning to write about my post-grad experience for a long time. It just so happened that ironically…post grad got in the way of my writing. This blank page has seen the ups and downs of this year, and they never got a chance to reveal its true form when I was experiencing it first hand. However, what I can share on the page now is a three month reflection of this summer and how I can hopefully be some form of resource to people who are curious about post-grad and what it entails. I am in no way an expert, and everyone’s experience is different. This space is just a way to share my insights and hopefully help others understand and find more courage to take on this new phase of adulthood.

The Pains // The Expectations and Experiences
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  1. You can never fully prepare yourself for the whirlwind of inconsistencies that comes after graduation.
  2. Make room in your life for plans that fall through, because in a lot of cases, your plans don’t usually work out. Getting offered a position at my internship was what I wanted, but not what I had expected. Plans of hoping to travel and relax a little more after graduation shifted immensely as I had to make room for working full-time. Although I am beyond blessed to have had this opportunity to work after college, I honestly wished I had more time for myself before jumping in to this new position.
  3. You will be in a period of feeling stuck. Whether it’s stuck waiting and wondering what’s to come, stuck applying to jobs or graduate programs, or stuck in a 9-6 cycle if you do land a full-time job. It’s the ultimate catch-22 of post grad life. But that doesn’t mean you will be stuck forever.
  4. Regardless if you start working or go back to school, anything you do full-time will wear you down, and the temptation to lay in bed for hours and watching Netflix will be huge. It’s not a bad thing to find time to relax, but when you do it constantly, it becomes a problem.
  5. The harsh reality is, constant mistakes are condemned, people talk about you behind your back and you are held to the highest caliber as a contributor to a company. Unfortunately, the real world does not dole out second chances in the form of midterms and finals. Although I am blessed to be working in a company that accepts growing pains, the expectations are serious and failure is defined as an inability to learn from your mistakes.
  6. Dreams take time to fulfill, and graduation is only the first step out of a million.
The Perks // Empowerment and Moving Forward
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  1. The joys of post-grad is that you mostly only have to worry about normal work hours, and then you’re free beyond that. So take advantage of the free nights and weekends. Just because you go through a period of “feeling stuck” does not mean you are forever. Go out and explore your own city, or travel beyond those boundaries. Read that book you’ve been wanting to read but wasn’t able to because of prior commitments. Meet up with old friends and have late night talks. The possibilities are endless.
  2. Make sure you use your freedom to follow your passions too. Whatever drives you, fires you up, uplifts the inner soul, do it. At times it will be hard to keep reminding yourself what those passions are. But you will know once it becomes a routine.
  3. Surrounding yourself with new people and a new environment is refreshing. Get out of your college town. Yes, FOMO is real if you have friends that still go to the same school. But growth means being able to step away from the comfort of familiar faces and places.
  4. If you make a mistake, dust it off, learn from it and move on. Despite the harsh world’s condemnation of mistakes, they are the things that empower us to continue to do better. Ultimately it makes us stronger.
  5. There is a beauty in working from the ground up and being able to say you worked hard to get to each individual place that you are now in.
Overall, the perks and the pains should all be worth enjoying, whatever they are for you. So revel in the end of summer, grab that pumpkin spice latte, and come to terms with the fact that we are here now and we are living life with both the perks and the pains.