Instead of Personal Growth, Choose This

And eleven other learnings that have made my life feel significantly richer

Ria Tagulinao
10 min readMar 8, 2023
Ria at 29 | Here’s the Instagram list version

I believe that the best way to crystallize a nascent realization is to articulate it.

Four years ago, I began this birthday tradition where I share twelve things that describe Ria at *insert age here* (Here’s Ria at 28, 27, 25 (26 was the year the pandemic started, so I’d like to think I’m excused for missing out)). Not surprisingly, these lists often turn into a catalog of life lessons. This year, however, as I listed the bullet points of who Ria is at 29, they felt more like “learnings” rather than “lessons” — that is, as recent learnings, I’m still internalizing and finding ways to apply them in my life.

So, in an attempt to solidify this wisdom, I decided to flesh them out.

What follows are twelve things that have made my life feel significantly richer and deeper since I learned them. I hope I never forget them moving forward. And I hope you find something here, too.

1. Roots before branches

Two years ago, I wrote that our twenties should be just as much about grounding ourselves as reaching for goals, and that meant laying down a few big truths to live by. I still believe that. But what I realize now is…



Ria Tagulinao

Fun-sized Filipina Writer | To stay up-to-date with my work, here's my Sunday newsletter: