“By the cracks of the skin I climbed to the top
I climbed the tree to see the world
When the gusts came around to blow me down
Held on as tightly as you held onto me,” – To Build a Home, The Cinematic Orchestra
SPENT many a day thinking how I would say this in the most articulate and precise way possible. About turning 25, and reflecting upon the events in life that have made me who I am – the learnings along the way; If ever this helps anyone struggling out there, I hope you do find a little peace of mind after reading this.
This is, an open letter you could say. Inspired by the ones who surround me, inspired too by stories I’ve learnt of, from those whose heart’s are/were heavy. I definitely don’t know it all, but this is what I do know. Let this be my letter to you. Here goes.
This was a highlight year for me. While i believe the significant year of everyone’s life will defer according to their socio-economic status and lifestyle, turning 25 is definitely mine. In the sense of what I’ve come to experience, in the sense of what I am able to do, and have learnt.
I thought 21 was significant – it possibly was, I thought then, that I understood it all. Heavily opinionated and stubborn. Very stubborn in fact. I got my forearm tattooed. I don’t regret doing it, cause it reminds me everyday, of something I hold as the core from which all my beliefs stem from – the fact that we as human, are mortal. My mortality accepted at 21.
Then I turned 22, and I thought I knew where my life was definitely going – graduate, work a few years, settle down, build a home. I was drunk on love, and I believe too, very very narrow sighted. I was afraid, but I didn’t know it. I was in a position of vulnerability, that my actions would directly affect another, and this other’s, me.
I was confused.
24, a painful birthday, and for months, facing sadness and loss in the face every single day.
In loss, though, I learn’t that I was a person who was afraid of change, I was a person who did not understand her own feelings, in spite of being a student of philosophy where analysis of language was at the core of dealing with the subject.
I learnt that, no matter how hard you try, you can never fully understand a person, much less a person who doesn’t fully understand him/herself.
I learnt that language is never always a shared concept.
I learnt that people will choose, otherwise.
It is often said, that one’s twenties are often the formative years of one’s life. And I would have to agree, no doubt.
Reflection is hard – it can be painful too. But I believe it to be necessary. In my short years of being a 20 something year old I have learnt, nothing is always set in stone and more importantly, the beauty of it. That while it is instinctual to resist change, change is here to stay. We can choose to be unhappy when faced with it, or accept it with an open mind and heart and see where you are able to grow. Change is like a light bearer to our minds, shedding light where exists cracks and corners for us to grow into. Change is beautiful, it is nourishing.
I learnt the power that exists in being gentle, in taking a step back, and understanding the language of another’s mind. I learnt that being gentle is not a weakness, no matter how people may perceive this to be. And vulnerability too. For vulnerability is a point of connection of all human beings.
I am enjoying life living now, with an open heart and mind. Life has its natural course, for life itself is after all, organic. I can understand though, the anxiety that ‘not-knowing’ can bring. It is frightening. Which leads me on to the next lesson,
Being anxious from time to time is OK and normal. You are fine, just breathe. And take things one baby step at a time. There is no rush, for you will know when the time comes for you to know.
Social pressures are here to stay as long as society remains. I used to fear, that I was never skinny enough, pretty enough, if I didn’t become successful enough. If I could not manage being a good daughter, good wife, good mother, career woman. Sounds cliché doesn’t it? But it is only cliche precisely because it is the worry of so many woman alike. I have learnt though, while these societal pressures exist, that doesn’t mean we have to be weighed down by them. Yes, while I still do take care of my health, I eat right, exercise and make sure I maintain a healthy weight – I find it a blessing everyday that I am still physically capable of doing these things AND getting better and stronger each time I do. It doesn’t matter that there are other girls who are skinnier/taller/_____ (insert insecurity type here) – Bottom line: I am alive, healthy and able, and I am sane. So what if I have a new wrinkle each day, or if my body is taking on a more womanly shape. Age, wrinkles and lines are blessings indeed – living indicators of what has been, of moments in your history that have shaped you, evidence of your presence in moments of yours in whatever time there is for you on earth.
Last but not least, happiness is not so much a journey of finding it in the world that exists outside of oneself, but a journey inward, driving down to the core of your existence – what is it that is truly valuable to you. I can’t yet answer this question for myself. Everyday since, I have learnt something knew.
We often discredit the value in negation. But there is much beauty in that, the way that Immanuel Kant has written about finding moral values, a downward spiral, losing layers as we go. By negating what we do not need, like a spool of thread, we come closer and closer to the core. Never mind that these things take time, for it is better to have started pulling at the thread, and merely getting a glimpse of it in your lifetime, than to never had tried at all.
Take heart, everything’s gonna be OK.