Learning to Look Back, Learning to Move on

My first post for this blog is quite personal, a little philosophical, and written in just over a thousand words. I highly recommend skipping the next five paragraphs that sound like they came right out of a journal entry, so you can read the section of this post that looks like it came out of a priest’s autobiography. Or just rebel against the writer and read it all, I’ll try my best not to regret revealing my life.

Ever since I was young, I had always been extremely shy and quiet. Growing up I usually had one or two friends at a time, either that or I would quietly join a group without taking part in major conversation. This made it a bit difficult to enjoy my childhood. I couldn’t join any clubs, continue learning to swim, or become close friends with kids my age.

It wasn’t until I moved to a new school halfway through fifth grade that I became friends with more social and outgoing people, and a new personality of mine started to show. I was still quiet, but not as shy as I began pranking my friends and acting mischievous to my classmates. I would silently take books, pencil cases and phones, and give them back after giggling at them trying to find out where I put them. I would play pranks on my friends by pretending to have amnesia during lunchtime and giving out fake love notes hidden in lockers and within binders. Of course, I would only go as far to see their reactions, to which I would halfheartedly apologize a few minutes later. This helped generate a whole list of nicknames from “Evil” to “Monster” and “The Beast,” which would never die down in my later years of middle school when I began to display my amazing volleyball skills during gym class (I’m not exaggerating here; no one could catch my spikes).

When I started high school, this personality had for the most part disappeared as I went back to being quiet. I was no longer shy as I joined sports teams and participated more in group activities and class presentations. However in my later years I didn’t put as much effort in being social and outgoing as I did in my studies and being conflicted over what I wanted to be when I grow up, what career path to take, and which school to go to.

Even now, I sit in this summer heat having changed programs, training for my newly acquired part-time job, editing for a magazine online and spending the rest of my time watching Korean dramas (for that I have my friend to blame for introducing it to me in the first place). I’m more open to new experiences, and I’m still just as worried about my future as I was a few years ago.

I try not to think about it most days. But some nights I find myself awake in the dark consumed by my thoughts and worries about my future, my career, my goals and my dreams. I start panicking and my breathing becomes uneven. I calm down after all the tears have dried up and I’m fast asleep. It’s hard to stay in contact with friends when it feels like they’ve all moved on in life with new jobs, new schools and new friends. Talking to my family is even worse when all they talk is sarcasm and humour; it’s near impossible to be serious enough without ending up in a shouting match. For me, summer is worse when I come back home with little to do and fewer people to talk to, as well as being holed up inside with relatives who question three things: school, career, and marriage (I come from a Desi background so even though we try to break stereotypes, these conversations come up more frequently when the older generation come to visit).

When I think about it, I’m just feeling stressed, paranoid, and lost. There’s no instruction manual on how to live, and growing up I realize there will no longer be anyone there to hold your hand. When I was young I was hiding behind my parents, teachers and relatives. Even in middle school when my character spiked a change, I always had a friend willing to join me and the expressions on my classmates’ faces when I joke around with them. It’s that thought of having the strength to push myself to talk to more people, try out new opportunities and learn to explore outside of the house more (thank you Pokemon Go). Until I try, and until I put in all of my effort being involved in different activities, I won’t ever be sure of future goals in life. For now that’s all I need, short-term and long-term goals. Whether that be focusing on a particular career I want, volunteering for different organisations, meeting the right partner for marriage in the future (at least that’s my relatives’ goal) or even saving enough money to earn a place to live for when school starts.

I am happy with the short-term goals I have now. Earning decent money from my job, writing and editing online, catching up with my dramas and exploring local parks with my sister. Of course, I will always want more in life. More goals, more dreams, more friends, more opportunities. Looking back, I’ve been faced with all  sorts of fears and problems and situations. I learned from my behaviours and my mistakes, and I learned how to move on. The biggest thing I learned is that I have changed, whether I know it or not. And I should learn to accept these changes, because if I was able to make it through life to where I am now, then I can make it through the next twenty years, or thirty years or more.

People grow up with different memories, experiences, emotions and opinions. It’s not worth comparing my life to someone else’s. And for that I am still growing, maybe not in height but definitely as an individual. I’ll end this long post with a quote I saw displayed on the electronic sign board of my local mosque, responsible for being the main conclusion point of this essay:

“A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.” – Muhammad Ali