Looking Back At 2017
"When you're 6 years old, a year feels like 1/6 of your life. When you're 60 years old, a year feels like 1/600th of your life." This was one of the most profound yet harrowing quotes I stumbled upon on an AskReddit thread. Surely enough, time flew faster the older we got, noh? Even if we're just in our late teens or 20's, we feel like each year before the present always felt like days instead of years passing by.
2017 was quite an adventure, though not how I expected it to be. Setbacks threw me back hard, and I didn't know what to do. Such situations forced me to reflect on my life and how I've lived it. Come to think of it, I lived through the same template the average 1990's Filipino kid did. Take 10 years in basic education, get a bachelor's degree, and gain work experience. Then if you can, settle down with That Person and teach the same schtick to your kids. Society set this pattern as the key to getting the best out of life. But even if I did follow the first half of that pattern, I had one question: "That's it?" Then a worse follow up popped in, "Am I a failure if I don't tick the check boxes of the 'perfect life'?"
Upon asking these things, I then realized I didn't have a good image of my future. I didn't have specific, focused goals set in stone. It didn't help I had this bad habit of going through my social media to see how my peers are doing. Freaking out about my own state can't be helped, but then I realized most of them had a different path than the one that I chose. So I took some time to evaluate my skills, sort out my priorities, and figure out my next step. I'm 23, and society says if I don't get shit together by 30, I'm doomed. While I believe in redemption no matter what age you are, I also believe it's better to sow the seeds early in.
As I reflected, I realized I had to have tunnel vision when it comes to the direction in life I'll take. The last time I tried to do this was when I was 18, amazed by the tourist-level glamour of Los Angeles. Visiting Hollywood then, I was pretty sure I was to be an actress. I researched acting schools, took some local workshops, and read anything related to acting. I had the passion, but I realized I wasn't cut out for it as I thought I was. Am I giving up on it? No, but I'm open to trying out other things. So I worked in a postprod house, a graphic design studio, in corporate, and an ad agency. My (full-time) work experience spanned over three years looking back I did have a diverse experience working as a creative. I was 20 when I started working, and now I'm 23, honing my craft and working with projects here and there.
While it's good to have a plan, thinking about the future increased my anxiety. When it's time to do my goals, I freeze. The fear of not getting things done always paralyzed me. Spoiler alert: it manifests a lot. The other bad thing is that I blame myself for not finishing tasks earlier. But what can I do about the past when it's done? I'm stuck in this pendulum where either I drown in the sea of what-if's of the past, or I jump on the edge of the cliff above the expectations of the future. That's 2017 for me–dwelling in the past or contemplating on tomorrow.
I spend so much of this year looking at an hourglass, either at the sands that passed at the bottom or at the sands at top that haven't fallen. Yet it didn't occur to me–I shouldn't just look at the hourglass... I should do something while grains of sands passed through the center. Forget about what happened on March 4, 2017, or where I would be on December 31, 2017. All that matters is the date for today. Waking up today is a gift, "that's why it's called the present" as Master Oogway said in Kung Fu Panda.
The year started off rocky. But as I type this entry, I'm still happy. I'm grateful for my parents–especially my mom–finally understanding my working style. There are friends who still believed in me and looked out for me, even if they said things I didn't want to hear (but for my own good). I'm happy I can work anywhere at any time, and enjoy the little things like cafes with sockets and wifi. The best part is? Blackheads, be gone. :) Call it silly, but clear skin is just one of the many good things that happened to me this year. Just because the bad memories weighed heavily on me, it does not mean the good ones are invalidated.
I may have spent 2017 either worrying or blaming myself, yet in the end, I learned to stop and face the moment. That's all that matters. So a note to self, and to you all: think of a bad year as a lesson learned instead. That way you feel like you gained more wisdom, right?