21 Coming-of-Age Things by a (relatively new) 21-year-old

Posted on February 20, 2015

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1. You’re not a girl, not yet a woman.

2. You are bound to lose people along the way…

Friends don’t stay friends forever, and some people are impermanent. It’s going to hurt, but sometimes you just realize that some people don’t fit in your life anymore. You can only hope that they would stay.

3. …but you probably shouldn’t hesitate to give them another chance if they ask for it.

This is what happens when you believe in the infinite goodness of people.

4. That child-like sense of wonder can save you from yourself. 

Fully succumbing to the sobriety of adulthood will only make you fall apart. Still believing that the world is a beautiful place will urge you to keep going.

5. Sometimes, you have to rely on yourself to be saved. 

Self-reliance. It’s a thing mature people do.

6. Your friends are your lifeline. Reach out to them.

Look, I know it hurts. I know all you want to do is be a hermit in some forest in Latvia. I know you think you have too many problems you would rather keep to yourself than show to anyone else. But they’re there. They understand. The ones worth keeping won’t run away when you tell them all the shit that’s been going on.

7. It’s okay to be quiet and inclined to spend time alone.

In the words of introvert extraordinaire Susan Cain, “Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to.” Also if the “introvert movement” was a thing when I was little, I would probably be better at life than I am now. Which brings me to…

8. You are not your past.

Humans are constantly evolving, and the decisions you made then are not exactly the ones you will make now. Sometimes the person you were had to die to make room for the person you are now.

9. Some people you just won’t see the same way again.

Maybe something happened, making you change your opinion of them. Sometimes you wish it didn’t happen, but you can only come to terms with it.

10. Being single is severely underrated. 

Just because you’re eternally single at 21 doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with you. It’s okay to think of today’s dating culture as shallow and roll your eyes at the next superficial couple, but don’t close yourself off to possibilities.

11. Comparison will really destroy you.

It will only make you focus on your insecurities so just stop. You don’t have to feel guilty for who you are. You try and keep blaming your life for power tripping you but in the end it will be all that you’re left with. Might as well accept it while it lasts.

12. Embrace your inner misfit.

Don’t push yourself to fit in. You know deep in your heart that no matter how many places you travel to, you will never find home. If you’re more comfortable being alone than with people who would never understand, then go. Don’t waste your time as a circle trying to be a square. It’s not worth it

13. It’s okay to admit that you’re not okay.

You don’t have to look so put-together all the time because really, who does? It’s not your fault that there’s something wrong with your brain chemistry. Embrace the things that are wrong with you and try to get better. At least try.

14. It’s okay to not be so smart all the time.

I know, bright little kid that you were, that everybody expects you to do everything right. You don’t have to.  Because sometimes…

15. You have to bring down your walls.

It will happen, eventually. No matter how guarded you are, you have to let people break them down to move on with yourself. Yes, it’s a risk. But if people did not take risks, the Internet would probably not exist. And no one would want that.

16. Talking to kids is way better than therapy.

There’s just something about talking to innocent little people. You know they still haven’t seen the sobering, ugly side of life. It kind of makes you want to have that kind of light perspective on life.

17. Nothing will ever compare to the joy of reading or listening to music that just makes life seem a little bit better.

Oh wait, I already know that. I guess I need to re-learn it now, because it was really hard to enjoy reading every time I’m sad about life. Which is almost every day. As for music, well, I cannot count the number of times that music has saved me from myself.

18. Do not ever take your family for granted.

Sometimes they will never understand you, but you don’t have to understand someone fully to love them. Nothing will ever compare to the joy of giving your diploma or salary to your parents, sometimes it’s the only reason why you stay in that job you hate. And that’s when you realize the sacredness of family.

19. You don’t have to cripple yourself with the fear of disappointing people. 

You don’t have to abide by society’s rules that you have to be prim and proper, stick-thin with straight hair and a high IQ, blah blah blah. You don’t have to change yourself just because someone said, “sayang maganda ka pa naman” (such a shame, you’re so pretty) or “sayang matalino ka pa naman.” (such a shame, you’re so intelligent)  It’s their problem, not yours. You don’t have to be the good girl you always have to be. The perfect girl is gone. Sometimes you need to let it go, turn away and slam the door (ew).

20. You don’t have to be successful at one go.

I know, you have always wanted that dream job, whatever that is, straight out of college. You want to make your parents proud, you want to prove everyone wrong, you to show everyone that you have found what you’re good at and you’re on the highway to hellish success. But this is not a perfect world. We can’t all be child prodigies, one of Forbes’ Most Successful People Under 25, or Lorde. Some of us are born to be late bloomers. Some of us detour into a crappy job, some of us get rejected. Just look at this guy. The best we can do is hold on to it until things get better. And yes, by better I mean something fulfilling. If I had the chance, I’d work in a bookstore in London. But again, this isn’t a perfect world. And in this imperfect world, people stay in jobs to get better lives. Hang in there tiger, pay day’s coming.

21. Things will get better.

It will, trust me. How many times were you stuck in a rut and felt better eventually? You can’t just push a fast-forward button in your life to get to the good parts, the same way you can’t keep rewinding the “better” days. There’s nothing you can do about it. In the words of a certain pink starfish, “If it’s not okay, then it’s not yet the end.” It’s starting to get cliche, I know, but those cliches hold wisdom far beyond human comprehension sometimes. Hang in there. It’s not over.

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