At exactly this time, two weeks from now, I will be home in the Philippines, home in La Union, home by the sea. I’d be a year older—27, to be exact—and have more optimism in my system, I hope.
But today, I am still 26. Wow, what a year it’s been. It’s the age when I’ve ridden the most airplanes and read the least books. It’s the age when I have spent the most time with myself—making big decisions, making awful decisions, getting frustrated, feeling free, learning how to do my own laundry for the first time… 26 is the age I’ll always think of as the year of “Big Change”. Apart from moving to Singapore, it’s the age I started learning how to deal with life—literally—from assembling IKEA furniture on my own and without hurting myself (a huge accomplishment for a klutz like me), to eating potato chips for dinner because I lost my ATM card and had to wait a few days before I got the replacement.
When I was a little girl, I had this secret dream of what I wanted my adult life to look like. (But really, I think it’s because I watched too much TV.) I looked forward to the day when I’d find my arms full with groceries as my fingers struggled with the keys to unlock my flat’s door. As soon as I’ve managed to get inside my flat, I’d dump all my bags on the kitchen counter and crash into the couch.
This moment happens a lot now—but I’m really grumpy when it does. I get to my apartment and unlock the door; sometimes I drop my keys and a few grocery bags (which makes me even grumpier). I struggle to make my way into the kitchen, drop my bags on the counter, and then crash into the couch.
And then, I laugh at myself because I remember how I’ve dreamed of this moment as little girl, and how it’s actually happening now. Weird yet funny.
Today, one of my best friends sent me a photo of her new apartment. It’ll be her first time to live away from her parents—a milestone we both share this 2016. Living alone is one of the best things you can do for yourself, I think. You learn how to take care of yourself, and I think there is some sort of accomplished feeling you get when you lie in your bed after of a long day, stare at your ceiling, and just feel great that you put this piece of living space together—a nest you can call your own.
From the outside, I guess, 26 seems like a kick-ass awesome/amazing/spectacular year, but then, there are the lonely bits, too, and life doesn’t seem as kick-ass awesome/amazing/spectacular all of a sudden. I see my baby cousins growing up from the screen of my mobile phone. I’ve seen my dog go through a season of haircuts, always wishing I was close enough to reach out and scoop him into my arms. I see photos of my friends laugh out loud, make funny faces, and build memories together. Without me. And uhm…it sucks.
As an introvert, you might say that I should be cool with my own company, but I think all this “missing out” is the biggest trade-off of choosing this life path. It’s the most existentialist I’ve been ever. I’ve used up so many pages in my journal, questioned myself over a million times “What the hell am I doing with my life? What do I want to be?” to the point that I get so annoyed at myself. This frustration takes me to the couch (the same one where I crash into after I dump my groceries on the kitchen counter) and sucked into the Netflix vortex with a pint of ice cream as my companion.
So today I decided to (wo)man up, sit down, and be honest with myself. I’m turning 27—and what now? Well, I miss writing so bad (especially food writing), and I miss doing it for a living. I also need to get into shape because I feel icky on the inside (all the Netflix and ice cream), and I know I look my most unflattering right now. I need to make better financial decisions, and I need to stop feeling entitled because I feel “stressed” at work. I’ve been told to just embrace the moment and be grateful—and while I am (I really am trying!!!), there is this void—a great discontent inside of me because I have been so focused on adjusting and re-adjusting that I haven’t been doing the things that make my heart feel full.
When I turned 26, I told myself that I’d let the year shape itself—to go with the flow and take big risks. And that’s sort-of what happened. Thinking of 27 scares me. It makes me wish I could slow down time a bit more, hoping I can buy a few more days. But time never waits for anyone, and all I have is now. I think a shift of perspective is what I need. Hopefully I get closer to figuring things out, gain more balance and contentment, be more mindful and less panicky about running out of time, and simply live the best I can.
So maybe, I’ll start with that.