5 Things The Philippines Helped Change My Mind About

5 Things The Philippines Helped Change My Mind About

I’m a hard headed, stubborn millennial. No denying that.

With that said, once my mind is made up it takes some serious convincing to change.

One of my business buddies out in the Philippines always teases me about being a typical millennial who has the “I’m always right” mentality. I resisted that for a while, but with more time here it becomes apparent on an almost daily basis.

Thinking “I know I’m right” then having the realization that either A) things aren’t always as simple as they seem, and B) “Oh crap, I was wrong after all,” numerous times on a weekly basis tend to open your eyes right up.

If I had to guess, I’d say I’m probably wrong about 88.63% of the time. I’m probably wrong about that too. 93.24%?

Anyway, aside from slowly removing my always right attitude, the Philippines gave me a complete shift in perspective when it comes to things like…


What stayed the same:

To me, money should never be the main motivation behind why you take a job. It could be a factor you take into account, but I’m not making a mere $1K/month because I think that’s a ton of money.

I’m content with that amount because it affords me the opportunity to be surrounded by insanely smart entrepreneurs and I get to work with a company that I believe will go much further than they already have.

What changed:

“I don’t care about money.” I’ve said that more than five times since I came over here, but I can no longer use such a blanket statement.

Although I still don’t think too much about money or care for a six-figure salary, money is something would be nice to have more of. More money means you get to enjoy more experiences.

For example, I’m planning a vacation for June and I need to save up about $800. Although I don’t think I’ll have trouble saving that money up by then, it’d be a lot nicer if I could just say “Well, here’s the money, let’s go!” without it even being a concern.

Due to my limited budget, I do have to track my expenses, plan ahead, and say no to a few cool adventures on occasion. Having more money means I’d be able to just dive in and enjoy.

With that said, I’m still incredibly grateful for the things I am able to do. Money isn’t something that keeps me up at night. Having more would simply be a nice to have. Regardless, I can see why some people are driven by it.


What stayed the same:

I published a blog post called 5 Reasons to Be Happy You’re Single back in January. I originally wrote it for my friend Nick who runs The Dating Specialist and it did well there with over 34,000 views and an average read time of five minutes.

Yes, I still think you should be able to be content with yourself before entering a relationship. I still stand by the idea that relationships don’t automatically make you happy. I still believe that relationships can make you even more miserable if you’re in a toxic one. Also, no one should rush into a relationship out of loneliness and people should only enter a relationship with someone they work well with.

In fact, none of my viewpoints from that article above have changed. But I did have a few perspective shifts on relationships as a whole from my time out here.

What changed:

The guys over here always asked me about dating and asking why I don’t have a girlfriend back home or why I don’t date in the Philippines.

My answer was always, “I don’t want to be in a relationship.” Well… Now I’m in one.

Originally, I thought I didn’t want the commitment and that it was something I could do without, but then I met someone who I didn’t want to be just friends with. She’s a girl who changed my mind about relationships.

It’s been years since my last relationship and I think entering one now is a testament to just how difficult it is to find someone you’re in sync with.

I’d tell you more about her, but she always jokes, “I want to remain anonymous,” so I’ll keep it that way.

To sum it up: I was happy before my relationship. I’m even happier now.


What stayed the same:

I still don’t plan on buying a ton of things when I eventually have more disposable income. My desire to never buy a house remains the same because I’d enjoy the flexibility and I’d be able to avoid the temptation to fill the home with things I don’t need.

I don’t think I need more material possessions to make me happy, but the verdict is still out.

What changed:

If you ever wondered to yourself if you can go too far with minimalism my answer would be “Yes.”

I practiced a minimalistic approach when I moved to the Philippines out of practicality. Packing light seemed like a great idea… if you’re going to be gone for a short period of time.

I brought about a week’s worth of clothes, while I’ve already been out here for four months. My room in Arizona still looks like someone lives there.

My clothes I miss. Having my buckwheat pillow that I spent $50 on I miss.

You definitely can take minimalism too far if you don’t practice practicality. Less is more, except when it’s not.


What stayed the same:

Basically everything remains the same. Friendship is beautiful.

What changed:

When you think of friends you normally think about the people you grew up with or at least people who are around the same age group as you. It makes sense because most of your social circle will be somewhere around your age.

You go through school together, you meet at venues where similarly aged people are bound to hang out. It just sort of happens.

Well, friendship is a lot more than having a few things in common along with the same number of years on earth.

Being the youngest one at most get-togethers, I’m surrounded by people who are in their mid-late 20s, 30s and 40s, and guess what? I freaking love them.

They’re smart, just as immature as I am, and they all crack me up on a daily basis. They’re people who make the most obscene jokes (exactly my type of humor,) talk about ridiculous subjects in great detail (exactly my type of conversation,) and most importantly, they’re good people.

I never knew I’d enjoy myself so much with people who have decades ahead of me. I won’t lie and say I never thought age was relevant in friendships.

Age means nothing when you’re with the right people.


What stayed the same:

Work should be something you enjoy and it should never be something that makes you groan and say to yourself, “Ugh, I got to do that again tomorrow?” Certain aspects of work may be unattractive, but the whole picture is beautiful.

What changed:

It’s hard. I have goals and I’ve missed them several times.

The ignorant millennial in me thought I could cruise by and make magic happen.

Although I love my work and its incredibly flexibility — I’m working from a coffee shop on a Sunday afternoon and I could take any day off if I wanted to — I do stress sometimes.

I worry that I’m not adding enough value to my company. I wonder if they made a mistake choosing me and that I can’t possibly live up to everyone’s expectations.

My cocky attitude made me think I was invulnerable in the real world of business. Nope, I’ve got to put in just as much sweat and tears as the next guy.

Sure, I may sometimes work less hours and have more freedom, but Vincent from five months ago’s expectations of kicking back and relaxing while the money rolls in was in over his head.

The real world isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. There’s a reason why people say work is tough.

The main shift happened with my idea of passion. I never wake up and say, “I can’t wait to do some good ol’ marketing today!” But I still love the people, the process, and the collaboration. Some parts of my job I dislike, but what can you do?

We’re all going to have plenty of experiences that change the way we look at things. Be open-minded and flexible with the way you see the world because you’re going to change in unexpected ways.

This place really did a number on me. I love it.

What about you? What have you changed your mind about recently? More importantly, are there any beliefs I talked about above that you disagree with? I’m still looking for new perspectives. Let me know in the comments!

Photo Credit: Copyright by Moyan Brenn

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Vincent Nguyen is the author of Self Stairway and founder of Growth Ninja, a digital marketing agency that specializes in Facebook Ads. Voted "Most Guapo" five years in a row (lost during 6th year to a hand model.)

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24 responses to 5 Things The Philippines Helped Change My Mind About

  1. Thank you for sharing, those are great values to learned. But I still think we could learn in any part of the world you live.

    • Definitely agree! Values can be learned on a daily basis regardless of your location. The Philippines just happens to be where I’m at right now and it’s fresh on my mind. 🙂

  2. It wasn’t recent but I remembered the first few months after graduating from college. It was during that time I realized how “scary” the real world was. I mean, I suddenly have all these real-life responsibilities. Add to that, I wasn’t even sure what I really wanted to do with my life yet!

    But I think experiencing that was kind of a rite of passage. Hehe. A lot of things has changed since then, including finding work that I love and realizing that I should really treasure my family and friends more. Maturity happened.

  3. I’m glad you’re loving Philippines, Vincent. I think the part about friendship resonates with me the most. Friendship is a beautiful thing but recently, I find that friendship comes and goes, especially if we change jobs or move country.

    Most of my friends now are older than me but it doesn’t matter what age they are, they all crack the same jokes, can be as immature and love the same things as I do. Age does not matter if it feels right.

    Congratulations to you and your new girlfriend. I don’t think she’ll remain anonymous for long. Haha!

    • Thanks, Aqilah!

      Being out in the PI, I find it really difficult to stay in touch with my friends. Funny enough, a lot of my buddies in college seem even busier than I am! They’re constantly studying and doing homework. Makes it hard.

  4. Don’t do it. Don’t you break my heart.
    Please! Don’t do it. Don’t you break my heart.
    My biggest mistake was loving you too much, and letting you know.

  5. I’m glad to see that you don’t subscribe to the religion of monogamy(“THE ONE SOLVES ALL YOUR PROBLEMS!”) even after getting in a relationship. Haha. Learning is a lifelong experience, and your values will probably change long term as well. A cool difference when you write about your ideas and values, is that you actually have something tangible to compare your current ideas to, so that you know that a change has taken place.

    • I definitely am monogamous in case you’re implying something else. 😛

      • No I was referring to the belief that a monogamous relationship is an almost universal solution to your problems. Not implying that you were not being monogamous! Haha.

        I like to think of relationships like an enhancer, something that either brings all your problems to the forefront, or enhances your enjoyment of life, or some combination of the two depending on the states of the people involved and their compatibility. And that the only person who can decide what’s right for them is the individuals involved.

        So I’m not judging you in any way shape or form or trying to make any assumptions. It was just a comment based on our agreement that a relationship packaged as a solution is a bad idea. But at some point, trying to ignore a real connection becomes equally as, if not more ridiculous.

        So congrats, and best of luck to you both! ^^

  6. Your blunt assessment is worth 100 pieces of advice. Thanks for your honesty, it helps me stay on the right path.
    “Follow those who seek the truth and run away from those who found it!”.

  7. Great post.

  8. I can relate with the work part. As naive as I am, I thought everything would be beautiful in my second job where I am ‘passionate’ about.(I moved from public accounting to business planning/development). Reality check: It has a lot of bad days. And it was way different from what I expected. The tiny details seem tedious and dragging.But like what you said, it’s beautiful to look at the bigger picture. Still, I won’t regret choosing this job over my first one. My new job is way better!

  9. Hey Vincent,

    Definitely one of your better posts lately, I think!

    ,”..but I’m not making a mere $1K/month because I think that’s a ton of money.”

    That’s because you’re a long-term thinker who sees the benefits of:
    –Learning as much as possible
    –Putting yourself in the right environment
    — Working with what you’re interested in

    And how that is likely to lead to much MORE money — and happiness — in the long-term compared to “cashing in big” and going for the instant gratification. I respect that.

  10. Whoa! Happy that you’re enjoying your stay in the Philippines. 🙂

    I really like the “Friendship” part of your post. As we grow older and become more mature, we realize that friendship/relationship is not just about being with the same affiliations. It’s really about the genuine bond that you have shared together that you both will treasure, and that transcends beyond age, race or even status in society.

    By the way, enjoy your Boracay vacation in June. 🙂

  11. Vincent, glad to hear some good feedback on the Philippines. Makes me feel sad when I heart expats say the Philippines looks good on paper but not so in reality. We’ve got a lot to improve 🙁

    Have you visited other parts of the country or just Davao?

    • I find that people either LOVE it or HATE it here. There’s rarely any middle ground.

      Unfortunately, Davao is the only place I’ve been to. I’ve been a bit cautious of wandering outside the city so far. Planning on Boracay in June though!

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