Half-Birthday Reflections: Five Ways I’ve Changed Since Turning 21

Miami Wynwood Walls // Mimi Chenyao // Asian Barbie

(and I don’t mean that I go out every weekend!)

Today is my half birthday! I’ve now been twenty-one years old for six months.

I’m totally going to go around correcting people when they say I’m twenty-one and be like, “um, I’m actually twenty-one and a half, thank you very much.” (Just kidding, I’m not an asshole.)

On my twenty-first birthday, I vowed that this age would “be the start of how I learn to live, not the end. I’ll make smart choices and bad decisions, be honest with both myself and others, stop being reserved about what I think, and ask enough “why” questions to make my [late] grandfather proud.”

I’d like to think that the past six months consisted of constantly keeping these promises. Here are some concrete ways that I changed since I turned twenty-one.


Twenty-First Birthday Reflection

Asian Barbie Twenty-First Birthday Red Abercrombie Dress

Abercrombie swing dress | A’Gaci heels

Content warning: This post discusses death and is probably one of the darkest things I’ve posted, but that’s why you have pretty pictures to balance it out, right?

I think a lot about being old.

When (if?) I’m so old that my body is stuck in life support mode while my mind wanders, will I remember my twenties? Will I regret them? If I could go back, would I change things? How so?


Farewell to Third Year

Blue Floral Ditsy Print Bow Dress Beach

Unknown dress (found at a thrift shop!)

It’s time to say farewell to third year.

I still have a bunch of finals left (I’m literally writing this while taking a break from the two projects, two essays, and one exam I still have to finish/write/study for), but I’m pretty much packed up to go otherwise. Looking around my empty room makes me excited and melancholy at the same time — on one hand, I’m so ready to get out of here and wolf down my mom’s delicious food again and get a taste of life as a professional software engineer. On the other hand, some of my closest friends are graduating this year, and it just won’t be the same when I return in the fall. Life happens, though, and I’ve found that the best way to deal with change is to accept it, move on, and make the best of your circumstances.


I Just Wanna Live, Man

Sarasota Florida Burns Court Forever 21 Black Eyelet Dress

Forever 21 dress | Franco Sarto shoes

Someone recently asked me what I wanted to do with my life.

Answers immediately popped into my head, all of which sounded vaguely spiel-y. There was I want to build something great, of course, or I want to leave a legacy, or I want to get ahead in my career, or I want to live in a big, bright house by the water where the weather is always warm while working a job that is intellectually challenging, well-paying, and culturally fitting. But my voice seemed to have a mind of its own.

“I just wanna live, man,” I blurted out instead before I could stop myself.


Announcing Asian Barbie Version 2.2.0

maroon skater dress

maroon skater dress

Forever 21 sunglasses | Monteau dress | Unknown bracelet | A’gaci shoes

Taking action is always better than overthinking.

When I was first learning how to program in Java, I would spend the majority of my time reading and taking notes from the textbook assigned for the class. How did encapsulation work? What was the difference between method overriding and method overloading? And so forth. I thought that knowing everything conceptually would make me a better programmer, and it did, in a way — by the end of that semester, I had a vast theoretical understanding of Java and object-oriented programming, and could hold long conversations about their subtle nuances.  (more…)

20th Birthday Reflection








Dress  |  Victoria’s Secret (old)

Happy birthday to me! #OneYearOlder

Soon I’ll be able to own a house, have an actual job, and be taken seriously as an adult. When I was younger, it seemed like each birthday was a drag—I didn’t want to grow up and have responsibilities. Man, has my perspective changed; now, I can’t wait.

I’ve done a lot of growing up in the past year. I adulted, learning how to do taxes, deal with car insurance, and take care of my living area properly. Academically, I expanded my major to include both Economics and Computer Science. Socially, I educated myself a lot more on social justice issues and learned how to diplomatically interact with all sorts of people. Emotionally, I realized that not everything was about me, that most adults (thankfully) didn’t know what they were doing all of the time either, and that it was okay to be lost once in a while.

I wasn’t grounded enough to be running a business yet, and chose to focus on my studies instead. I found out what it was like to seriously “be with” someone versus what it was like to “kind of have a thing” with them. I learned to view failures as lessons for future success rather than defeat, and to never stop going the extra mile. I stopped unhealthily competing with those I was closest to. I stayed cool in uncomfortable situations. I came to terms with myself and celebrated my strengths while accepting my limitations. There was a lot of blood, sweat, and tears that went into the last year, but I couldn’t have asked for a better time.

Here’s to another year of achievement, success, and personal growth. Things may not go as planned and there will be many setbacks, but hey, that’s what life is. I look forward to the adventure!

Mimi Chenyao | Fake & Basic