In real life, lately (I’m feeling 22!)

Celebrating my 22nd birthday with some positivity!

Housekeeping note: This entry used to have images which were lost in migration. Accept my apologies over what this post could have been.

Truth be told, I never saw myself older than 19. Anything beyond college graduation (20) was a blank, so turning 21, 22 and so on were really funny concepts to me. It doesn’t help that I’m stuck in a 12-year-old’s body.

But here I am! 22! Learning to adult! Or something like it.

I found the earliest version of my bucket list, written in 2011. I was 18 years old, a college sophomore. I wanted to become an org officer (✔ 2012-2014), ace a Philosophy paper (✔2013), and graduate from the Ateneo School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (✔ 2014).

I wanted a tattoo, any piece of Tiffany & Co. jewelry, and the perfect copy of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. I wanted to make a thousand paper boats, to sponsor a World Vision kid (✔ 2012-2014), to set foot on all seven continents, and see the Northern Lights. I had no career ambitions yet, no dreams of stability or paid bills. But there were so many things I wanted to do, be or learn.

These days, life has me upside down.

Still, it’s not all that bad. In my last year alone, I crossed 4 things off the bucket list:

✔ learn to cook (I always thought I’d be the mom who couldn’t cook),
✔ purchase a domain name (which you are currently on!!),
✔ learn a new instrument (ukulele, baby),
✔ see Project Voice live (whatever I could see through my tears anyway).

It makes 21 seem like a great year, but it didn’t feel like that at the time. My Sadness kept coming back stronger and I kept readjusting to life. It’s only in retrospect that I get to look at the things I’ve been through for what they are: tiny, shiny, golden accomplishments.

In my last stretch of college, I paid the guidance office a visit. The counselor asked how my friends and family responded to my struggles. “They tell me, ‘Kaya mo yan.’” And, he said, kinakaya mo naman?

And that’s how I learned how strange and powerful retrospect is.

I hit my five-year anniversary in the Philippines last month — a simple but important milestone. At least five times a year I am tempted to give up. Any method will do, as long as I can stop being the girl who crawls out bruised and lagging behind. Lasting five years after the biggest life change ever means that I made it out more times than I ever thought I could. Kinaya ko. Kinakaya parin.

I’m scared of and curious for when my years of “making it” are more than my years of feeling safe. I’m scared of and curious for the next year alone. I have dreams, but they terrify me too. I wonder what the perfect ratio is for dreaming and being scared, before you get to say you’re really living life.

I don’t know. I just want to get to a point where I can say, “This is it. This is what my life will be about.”

There’s no happy ending to this story, not even a turnaround promise of living my life better from now on. But soon I’d like you to have a starter list of goals and dreams I want to tick off before my 23rd birthday. Just to help me make the next year about a little more than just “making it.”


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