(Originally posted on: Medium , inspired by an article written by Jaimee Ratliff on Medium “28 things I now know about life, work and relationship at 28” )
Situation at Stockholm Public Library, the unique curved-bookshelves tempt every bookworm or visitor to take at least a picture
This morning when I woke up at 3 am, a good friend of mine sent me a birthday wish via personal message. “A good reminder that today is my birthday”, I talked to myself. Unfortunately I often feel an anxiety rather than a delight towards a birthday (especially in my late 20s), being sensitive in the fact that the train speeds really fast (according to John Mayer), and I am not ready for that.
So, the inner me cried, Damn I am 28! Blimey, another 2 years and I’ll be 30! Jeez, there’s so much I haven’t achieved at this age! And there was another voice creeping in my head (I don’t really care about this one but I have to admit that I worry it lately), “a foreign graduate but have no permanent job”. Disaster!
I bet I started to have a birthday syndrome, I fear too much.
Well, there is a valid reason why I start panicking a lot of stuff, “social pressure”. Dear fellas, I am telling you now that typical people in Asian countries care about many things. People want to know your inner to the outer space of you, from what kind of food you had during breakfast to the colour of your poo, from your salary to your ex! And the list goes on…
Therefore, social curiosity is a thing here, and it leads to a social pressure. Before 30, you are supposed to have a good permanent job giving you a good amount of money, to have a nice house, a fine car (doesn’t matter if your loan interest robes you), and a lover (the more serious of your relationship level, the better).
Don’t get me wrong. I understand that negativities created from social judgments can be overcome easily, depending on your perspective (and how tough you are 😀 ). And trust me, I rarely bother myself with other’s appraisal on what I wear or what’ve I done. Fluctuation in human’s vibe, alas, can lead someone into so many negativities. That I became easily tensed in a simple thing, troubled with stuff that I yet haven’t achieved and simply deserted a bouquet of wonderful things that I have accomplished.
So I contemplated myself. Sitting alone in my quite room, accompanied by a cup of tea, and a playlist full of David Rhodes’s songs (a very talented young British-singer). I started to ask questions. Is my overwhelming reaction due to dozen of high expectation when I am getting older by one year, reasonable? Do those things I called “social pressure” really exist? (well of course they do exist, but I should realise that this pressure is less severe compared to others). Or it is just me who become too loud, too harsh to myself? (I bet this is right).
For this reason, I say to myself that being unsettled in job, or being single, or even being stupid, IS NOT THE END OF THE WORLD, as long as you appreciate your life! Never ever take for granted and turn a blind eye on what you’ve achieved in the name of unsatisfied life!
Then I cast a spell to myself saying that you are too young to worry those heavy burdens, don’t forget how many people tell you that you look like 22 (this is one of the common advantages of being Asian, always look much younger than your current age). Thereafter, I wrote down a list consists of what I’ve learned and not yet-learned at my 28, in the hope that may other young people stop being unkind to themselves. Which then I realise that my last 3 years were utterly amazing and there are many proofs that actually I am doing fine.
What I’ve learned:
1. Travel (alone) will enrich your personality.
Everybody claims that travel is yes indeed one thing that people should do. I would only add that, please do travel, ALONE, to the strangest places in the world as you will see something that you wouldn’t expect to see. Trust me, once you experience the art of travelling, you’ll be addicted. After my solo travel in Europe (which I have never expected my self to do that since I am a poor coward human being), now I feel like old little Bilbo Baggins craving of new journeys to wander in queer and unexpected places.
However, never, ever, travel as it is a trend, mainstream activity as recommended by many blogs and travel agents. Do as you feel that this is the right time to explore the other side of the world.
Next stop? Maybe Africa?
2. Keep looking don’t settle!
A well-known quote from Steve Jobs at Stanford commencement day, which I found it really hard to be true. Never sacrifice yourself trapped in a job that you don’t enjoy, for the shake of your comfort zone.
3. You responsible for your own choice, but believe that everything happens for a reason.
I gave away my nice-neat job, haven’t mentioned the good salary and undisputed institution reputation, simply because I can’t become who I am in that place. Sometimes I feel that I am undesirable, I have no place, or maybe I am the one who should be flexible? Don’t think so. I responsible for my own decision and I believe that one day I will find the right place at the right time. So keep looking, don’t settle!
4. Don’t be too penny-pinching to yourself.
Aha! That was me! Even need to think several times just to treat me a good coffee after a day of full work! You work, you earn money, for whom? For yourself. Thus, treat yourself decently because you deserve.
5. Being perfectionist is utterly OK, but don’t be too ambitious.
Indeed, producing a great job is essential, but never sacrifice your health. There is no peace in the heart of people who keep on desiring to be number one. Chill out!
6. Don’t be afraid of being single.
This! I think I need to write more stuff on this topic.
My college (35 years old), finds his life incomplete due to his single status (totally understood). Another friend (25 years old), grumbles her loneliness for live without a lover (well, fine). A cousin (15 years old), thinks her life is misery as she has no boyfriend (what?!).
I would admit that I had been in that situation, but lately, I never understand why so many young people worry about NOT YET being able to find her/his lover? At worse, why so many people care about the “singleness” status of others? And start to feel that “single” joke is the best joke ever in the world?
Here is the fact: I am single in these last 3 years, and I found much more happiness when I date myself. Luckily I understand that there are many awesome people out of there, be brave to stay single, because they choose to improve themselves, which might become incomplete if they do those jobs with somebody.
7. They’re just not into you!
You know this movie don’t you? Never bother yourself dreaming about somebody who don’t trouble him/herself to understand you.
8. “When you’re strong enough to let it in, you’ll strong enough to let it go” (a song from Birdy & Rhodes). Letting go is much harder indeed, as it requires us to forgive our past.
9. Coffee and tea save my mood.
If you hesitate about the power of caffeine, ask people who would spend 4 euro for a cup of espresso or 250 euro for 250 gram of coffee beans. Insane but true!
10. Books save my time.
I found that the best way of procrastination is reading books (any book) (and cooking actually). There were several days during my holiday when I didn’t feel want to go outside rather than clutch on my bed. So I ended up finishing almost the whole tales of JRR Tolkien and re-reading all Harry Potter series.
11. Good songs enlighten my bad times.
If only plugging headphone on my ears can do no harm on my hearing, I might never unplug it.
12. Unless you are a photographer, capturing every moment with your phone/camera is not so-wise style. Try to use your brain memory instead.
13. Hold tight onto something (religion, faith, believe, etc) that can be your last savior in your hard times.
What I’ve failed to learn and soon need to re-learn again:
1. Stay close with your old friends.
This way I regret the most. I am not really a sweet talker and thus, really hard to re-start a conversation with old friends who’ve been ages lost in touch. Shame on me.
2. Never ruin your sleeping rhythm.
Unless you want to torture your body, never disturb your sleeping rhythm. Sleep earlier, wake up earlier, eat healthy food, discipline with your time (yes, it is difficult in practice, but at least try!).
3. Talk with the elders.
Despite reading books or indulge you hobby during your leisure time, try to start a conversation with the elders around you. They have myriad tales of life that are very fascinating to hear.
4. Life does not consist of good wizards and death eaters.
My favourite words from Albus Dumbledore! Life is not separated into black and white circles. Every people are born in white, but their choice define their life, and reason underlying their decision is not because white and black things. We need to understand why.
5. Start to ignore people’s judgement. You live your life, wear what you want to wear, do what you want to do. But somehow we still care with social judgement, don’t we? One day I went to a big-elite shopping mall with my sandals and very causal (let’s say, old) t-shirt, I went to a camera store, the shopkeepers seemed to overlook me, but I just wanted to buy a mirrorless camera, cash. After that, I never care what I wear when I go to any shopping mall.
6. Neighbour’s garden is always greener than ours.
Jealousy! A very natural human character, yet, very dangerous. I believe we’ll end up suicide if we keep on thinking that other’s life is better. Instead, why don’t we think the vice versa? Ever count how many people envying our life?
At the end, I let you to draw your own conclusion from this long story. But If I may to give you an advice, I will choose this quote: Age is just a number, Youth is a state of mind, and Wisdom is only a perception of understanding.
Ps: another contemplation emerge after I wrote this story: why can’t I write 1800 words of college assignment as fast as writing this article? LOL