I still remember being around the age of 7 and looking up at my cousin, who was around 15 at the time, and thinking, “Boy is he old. He can even watch PG-13 movies.” Now at the age of 19 and almost finishing 20 years, I feel old. Not that I feel like life has passed me by, but I can see the passing of time on the people around me, which in turn makes me feel “old.”
And in an effort to move forward, I am forced to look back as well. Thus, in the last month, I have forced myself to reread every entry I ever wrote on my Xanga. Not only did I found out that I was a self-involved little brat, but I was also a dreamer: I was excited about everything and anything about life. And even if I wasn’t, I wrote about it like it was, in order to create some kind of inspiration.
Now as an “old” person, I’m struggling to hold on to that inspiration and excitement about life. That goes to say I’m not suicidal about my life (not that I haven’t been before), but there’s a difference between living for the sake of it and living for the love of life:
Human life consists in mutual service. No grief, pain, misfortune, or ‘broken heart,’ is an excuse for cutting off one’s life while any power of service remains. But when all usefulness is over, when one is assured of an unavoidable and imminent death, it is the simplest of human rights to choose a quick and easy death in place of a slow and horrible one. (Charlotte P. Gillman)
One of my closest friends loves the phrase “Live. Laugh. Love.” It’s a cute little phrase at first glance, but only when you tear it apart do you realize how strong those three words are:
Live. Because by dying you’ll never experience anything.
Laugh. Because there are too many sad things in life.
Love. Because it will make you want to live.
I always struggled with the phrase “put yourself in my shoes” because:
1. I probably wouldn’t fit into your shoes because my feet are tiny, but regardless,
2. You’ve lived your whole life through your own eyes, not through anyone else’s. You have a subjective perspective on everything. Although there is a thing as empathy, it’s not precise. There is no precision accuracy in living. What one person think is weird might be entirely normal for another person. And despite the fact that human existence centers around connections, how much can we really relate to one another when everything is so subjective?
As a child, I was a quiet little thing. Timid as I was, I still understood everything going around me: the good as well as the bad. And a part of me took all the bad and locked it up inside a little portion of my heart. The reason I say heart and not my brain is because I cried. Sometimes my heart hurt from holding it inside for too long, and so I knew it was my heart. As I grew older, I started a Xanga. I wrote anything and everything on there, from my daily schedule to entries in stream of consciousness that I knew no one would read. The gate to that little portion of my heart opened up a little and what came out was on that Xanga. And as I went into high school and college, I followed the trends: Myspace and then Facebook, all the while slowly stopping my writing and closing that little portion of my heart back up again. I was getting older, and there was more pressure. ‘You can’t spill your guts on the Internet; college admissions committees can see it.’ And so, I became a mute little child once again. I kept my own diary at home, and even managed to change out journals. But those journals were records of events in my life when I was most unstable, when I was broken and trying to put myself together again. Now as a rising junior in college, I’ve started this blog in an attempt to open up that gate again and begin writing. Not for peace of mind, but peace of heart.
As an introvert, I’ve had to learn to become a bubbly person for college admissions interviews, for networking, for all sorts of reasons. Not that I don’t enjoy being a bubbly person, but I must say it is sometimes a façade that I don’t have any interest in keeping up.
I’d like to think of myself as a smart person, prejudices and egos aside. I’d like to think that as I “come of age” I will know what to do. HA. False. I used to look at my mom in amazement at how she always knew the right thing to say and the right thing to do in any situation. She knew how to cook, clean, work, draw, anything. She was my role model, and she still is but not for the same reasons. As I grew older, I saw the loopholes. I saw how hard she had to work, and how she had to work even harder to make it look like she knew what she was doing. In actuality, she didn’t. She was a smart person and she figured it out, and hopefully I can as well. I remember sitting in Spanish in middle school and thinking how the high school Spanish classes worked. How was I going to learn that much Spanish in time? How was I going to know what the teacher was saying? What if she called on me? Thankfully, some things, like common sense (my mother always says “common sense is very uncommon” – Horace Greeley) just come with age. Some people would call it maturity (which “is really just a convoluted word for tactful” – Onkur Sen). And the rest? You learn to improvise with your intelligence.
In the past few months, I’ve seen photos of my friends graduate from college. I’ve given advice to my best friend to trust in her family and talk about marriage. I’ve seen my cousin get married. I’ve seen the effects of my brother growing up. And for all these people that are so near and dear to me, I can only say, “I wish the best for you.” Because, I honestly do. I believe that we have the power to steer our lives, but we must be given that opportunity to do so. I’ve learned that part of growing up is adopting a certain nervousness. A nervousness about the life ahead of you. A nervousness about how to hold yourself. A nervousness about the world and what type of lemons it’s going to hand you if any. And how do you deal with that nervousness? You deal with it by finding answers. By securing your life pathway with finding a passion in what you do (or finding something to do with your passion), surrounding yourself with those that love you (and you better love them back too), and keep pressing forward. Always looking for something better is not the answer, but neither is being complacent with what you have; you should, however, be thankful for what you have. There is a fine balance in reaching a point in your life where you are happy but are still open-minded and willing to learn. If you’re not, then there needs to be more change in your life (It’s never too late to be who you might have been” – George Eliot). The subtle changes in your life must be so continuous that they in themselves are static. And for most people, I think that there exists a natural human sense for wanting more and wanting better. You can call it greed, power, whatever, but I think everyone is just trying to look for a level of satisfaction in their lives that they have yet to experience. Keeping that sense of satisfaction is a different story, but there is something to be said for the journey itself.
And as I turn 20, yes, I am nervous about the life ahead of me, but I am also excited for this next decade. This decade where (hopefully) I get to make the decisions that will determine the rest of my life. I am thankful for what I have been given, but I also wish the best for more. I can’t wait to revel in the happiness of others as well. I can’t wait to see a groom’s face light up as a bride walks into the room. I can’t wait to see the groom waiting on the bride hand and foot when her bridal henna is on. I can’t wait to see a husband walking out of a noisy party to walk his baby in a stroller to help her fall asleep or walking around with a baby monitor in his cargo pants pocket glowing red as he entertains guests downstairs while his baby is sleeping upstairs. I can’t wait to see smiles, laughs, and hugs around me.
Photo365: Day 23
June 29, 2011: I actually woke up in a panic thinking that I had to go to work before I realized I had the day off for my birthday. After lunch, we headed out to see Rio (definitely worth the watch) and came home for a little snack. We went shopping (saw the cool cupcake and donut maker) and had dinner at Pei Wei.
*ImageADay included in slideshow