Sunday, 1 March 2015

Sunday Reads: A Guide To Your Early 20s (How I Failed So You Can Succeed)

I couldn't help but laugh to myself when I saw this book in Urban Outfitters, Admiralty (Hong Kong). 

I can't say that the 20s age bracket is something that I would rave about to anyone. My 20s have been characterised by many uncertainties, disappointments and lost opportunities. More experienced people tell me that, that's great that I've had these experiences earlier on because they'll ultimately make me a better person and leader later in life.

But who cares about results that will only show years from now, right?

I want instant gratification! That's what your 20s are about, right?! Fast life, baby! At least, that's how I imagined my 20s.

I'm now in my mid-20s and, to date, I haven't experienced anything instantly gratifying. 

Ironically, I saw this book immediately after celebrating my birthday at the Island Shangrila and can you just imagine me bitterly laughing to myself?!
I really wish I had a proper mentor when I turned 20. Someone who gave me practical and emotional guidance for how I needed to think and act in order to thrive in my 20s. I've learnt that your friends and parents aren't always in the best position to fulfill this role. I would have loved one of these books just so I could organise my thoughts on the social, economic and emotional changes that happen to you once you turn 20. 

Alas, I never had one. 

Truthfully, things started getting better around late last year. It was a major turning point and it's made things a whole lot better - infinitely better. It hasn't given me an extensive epiphany for how I should live out the rest of my 20s but it's made me less terrified of the future. 

Dare I say that I am actually optimistic about the future and that, no matter what, I will try to maintain this level of enthusiasm?  

There are a million and one Guides For Being In Your 20s but here is some advice that I wish I'd heard and taken in my early 20s. 

1. CAREERS: Follow your dreams but bring your head with you
This is especially for those people who dream of the road less travelled by others.

People around me always emphasise the importance of doing what you love because work takes up such a significant amount of our time. But, up until now, I've never been practical about my dream career. In the past, I loved what I loved so much that it was 'all or nothing'. That level of determination (or stubbornness) is something that I am actually proud of. Even now, I still note this as a strength and not a weakness. 

But I can recognise that my determination actually hampered my career progression, as opposed to helping it a long. I spent a lot of time waiting around for things to happen and 'waiting for my time to come'. I lost a lot of other opportunities because of this.

I also dreamt incredibly big but didn't act accordingly. I had a clear picture of where I wanted to end up but the journey towards it was poorly planned out and rarely executed with precision. I let a lot of my emotions control the way I approached my career goals.

So the advice here is to dream big but have a fairly planned out idea of how you're going to get to where you want to go. Recognise that time is of the essence, so there's not enough time for you to wait around. Be proactive. Face the setbacks head on and don't spend days and weeks wallowing in self-pity. That time can be used for preparing yourself for the next big opportunity. Give yourself checkpoints - periods of reflection where you can ask yourself whether you're doing it right, need to change courses or if it's time to move on. 

For crying out loud, don't listen to other people's negativity. There will always be someone (or at least a dozen) who will tell you that it's impossible, implausible and that you can't do XYZ. If you know in your heart that you are right, then don't worry about them.

No one knows your version of happiness - only you do.

2. FRIENDS: Quality over quantity
It's true when they say that the older you get, the less friends you have and the harder it is to meet new ones. Dad always tells to me that there's a Chinese saying that states that one can die happily if they've been able to chance upon one true friend in life. 

While it sounds a bit too melodramatic for your early 20s, I think it's important to understand that friends will drift apart. Everyone is so busy fulfilling their own life goals that it actually takes a lot more effort than before to maintain a friendship.
For me, the older I got, the less connected I felt with a lot of the friends I grew up with. Everyone was working in different industries, wanted different lifestyles and had different values. We just grew apart and that was really tough initially. For a long period, I blamed myself for not being to maintain old friendships.

But at the end of the day, when it comes to friendship, I've learnt that even if you're in a room filled with 20 'friends', you can still feel incredibly lonely and not have a good time. This is especially true when you have nothing in common and nothing to have an extended conversation about.

So don't worry, people change. So does your circle of friends.

3.  FAMILY: Your family will not be around forever
The older I get, the more I make a note to spend more time with them, be nicer to them, actually be in the moment with them...

After a few incidents, I recognised that my family will not be around forever. My parents will not be around forever and my brother and I aren't always going to live under the one roof. Mum and Dad are starting to show signs of aging, and the parents I know are changing. I'm a practical person when I need to be and, if there's a problem, I'm instantly thinking up a solution and trying to execute it. But aging isn't something I can say, 'Okay don't worry. I can fix this'.

This is the one thing in which, regardless of how intelligent you are, you can't stop from happening.

When I was in my early 20s, my family was largely prohibitive of a lot of things I wanted to do with my life. They were one of the negative sources in my life. But slowly that's changed and, alongside that, so did my view of them.

Be good to your family and take care of them. They were good to you when you were young, be good to them now that they're in their later years.

Your life only gets busier hereon in. You might not have enough time for your family now but you'll likely have even less time for them later on in life.

So schedule in time for your family, whether it be once a week or twice a month. When you're older, you won't regret this time spent with them. I promise. 

4. RELATIONSHIPS/PARTNERS: Find Someone Who Supports Your Goals
A friend of mine lived by the idea that your early 20s are a good time for you to shop around and to learn which type of guy you want to settle down with when you hit 25. 

Not going to comment on that but I thought I'd just leave that there. 

Don't waste time on the good looking, rich guys. This is true unless he is someone who understands where you want to go and is willing to support you emotionally and intellectually. At the same time, be prepared to support your partner's goals. Do not get in a relationship with someone who you aren't able to believe in and encourage.

Don't waste time on assholes who put you down. Some guys are just plain arrogant and, on the inside, know less than you do. Don't let someone like that influence your life or how you perceive yourself.

Even more importantly, don't get into a relationship because you're lonely. Learn to be comfortable living on your own. Silence can be a killer but it's always a great tool for learning about yourself and the world around you.

5. HEALTH: It starts now
Yes, your early 20s are filled with late nights out and early starts but who cares? As long as you're having fun, right?


Have a regular sleep pattern where you are able to sleep early at least 4-5 nights a week. Limit your alcohol intake. Wear your sunscreen. Do a yoga class or go out for a run. This will help take care of your physical health. I slept incredibly late for the past decade and I started wearing sunscreen only recently, and it's all showing on my skin. I look haggard and much older for my age. 

If you're having mental issues, whether that be self-esteem problems, anxiety or depression, see a doctor. The earlier you receive medical guidance, the quicker the recovery. A mental health issue is not something to hide from but something to get better from or at least learn to manage. 

I feel incredibly strongly about this because there were people around me in my their early 20s who experienced some level of distress, anxiety or depression. A lot of them blamed themselves for not being resilient enough to overcome difficulties. But the truth is, disorders like anxiety or depression, are signs that you've been strong for too long. 

Get the right help before it starts to interfere with your life.

What were some of the things you learnt in your early 20s? 
What advice do you wish you had of received?

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

You, Who Smells Good: Grown Alchemist's Vanilla & Orange Peel Hand Cream

I have to admit that during Priceline's 40% off skincare sale a few weeks ago, I was very tempted to pick up another bottle of Grown Alchemist's Vanilla & Orange Peel Hand Cream. My current bottle is sitting very prettily on my work desk at home and even looking at it makes me feel calm.

How is that even possible?! Ahah. I'm guessing that I've developed some emotional attachment to it.

Or maybe because it smells like heaven. 

As you may already know from my previous posts, Grown Alchemist is another Australian skincare brand that advocates an organic approach to beauty. Most importantly for me, their products don't contain sulphate.

They also specialise in sourcing active botanical antioxidants that are supposed to be a more natural and safer way to nourish the skin.

I actually purchased this hand cream after testing it out at David Jones when I was picking up their Damask Rose, Black Pepper & Sage shampoo. There were two things that initially impressed me about this hand cream - it's texture and scent. 

The texture is silky smooth and feels slightly lotion-y once you start to spread it across your hands. It's also a non-greasy formula, meaning that I can quickly go about doing other things without worrying that I'll leave marks all over the place.

But the best thing about it is that it smells amazing. I'm not a huge fan of vanilla but I love the smell of orange peel and Grown Alchemist has captured the scent perfectly. They've managed to strike the right balance, without making it too heavy or light. The smell kind of filters a little into the air when you dispense the cream from the pump bottle. Very nice!

Surprisingly, I actually prefer this to Grown Alchemist's Persian Rose & Argan Extract Intensive Hand Cream, which I didn't find intensive at all. The Intensive Hand Cream has a thicker texture to it but this Vanilla & Orange cream hydrates much better. Having said this, I don't think this is the best hand cream I've tried and there are cheaper alternatives that don't smell better or feel better on the skin but definitely do a better job at moisturising my hands. I've noticed that I need to reapply this a fair few times throughout the day.

So why did I almost purchase another bottle? 

Because of the packaging. The bottle just looks so pretty sitting there on my work desk at home and...

Which products have you purchased because of their packaging? 

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

RE: Sulphate-free Shampoo - Alchemy's Rice Aminos & Wheat Protein Shampoo

The quest for a perfect sulphate-free shampoo continues! By all accounts, the Grown Alchemist shampoo I've reviewed previously is a good sulphate-free shampoo. It does a decent job at cleansing and doesn't make my hair dry or flat. My only problem with it is that doesn't make my hair nice and soft like my old sulphate shampoo and it's also on the expensive side. 

So when Alchemy's Rice Aminos & Wheat Protein was on sale, I decided to give it a go. 

I'm not too familiar with the Alchemy brand, aside from knowing that they're an Australian company creating natural products. Their shampoos are not only sulphate free but are also without parabens, silicones and other nasties listed in the above photo. 

I chose the Rice Aminos & Wheat Protein shampoo because it's for dry and damaged hair. I ionically straighten my hair once a year and straighten the regrowth every second day after a wash - so yeah, my hair is prone to damage and dryness. 

This shampoo is enriched with vitamins E and B5 and pure botanical cleansers such as panama bark, jasmine and certified organic lavender essences to help strengthen damaged and dry hair.  

Let's start off with the positives - this smells really, really good. It has that soothing lavender smell I like in the bathroom. I like a few drops of lavender oil in the bathtub when I'm doing a soak.

But that's about the only positive I can think of.

As for the negatives - this shampoo irritated my hands. I immediately started scratching the moment I hopped out of the shower. My scalp was fine but my fingers started getting super itchy. My hair turned into coarse straw - I've actually never had my hair feel so coarse my entire life!

But because I'm of the game variety (more like I didn't want to admit that I'd spent money on a product that I hate), I decided to try this shampoo a second time and my hands itched even more and hair came out drier than before. It took two rounds of hair masking with Essential's Damage Care Rich Hair Mask to bring it back to normal. 

The packaging is terrible as well. The shampoo's bigger size comes in a pump but this one has one of those pop-up lids, and it sucks. The moment your tip the shampoo forward, everything starts dribbling out and so you tip way more than you actually need. You don't even need to squeeze the bottle to get the product out. 

Immensely disappointed in this product. It's just sitting in my shower now and I have no idea what I can repurpose it into. ARGH.

Have you tried any disappointing products lately?