The wonderful thing about therapy is that it taught me to look at myself through a kinder lens. There was never any judgment in this space, only reflection and acceptance. I told my therapist that recently I’d done a lot of crazy things I was ashamed of and regretted. He asked me, why would you say it was crazy? I told him, well it’s because normal people don’t do that. He asked, who are the normal people? Who says you can’t do what you did? You did what you did because you were triggered. You were under the influence of your emotional stress. There was a reason. And he was right. I didn’t accept my own reason, but instead, I shamed and blamed myself, I tortured myself with regrets. I didn’t realise they were the mistakes I was supposed to make because that was the only way I could learn to not do it next time.
I’m 25 now. And I’m starting to think that this is the best age to fuck things up. Because when else would you do it? You don’t want to do it at 35. You want to do it now so at 35 you get to enjoy a better life with some fine decision-making skills and on-point judgment. Perhaps I’m doing 25 just right. This year, I pushed and crossed a lot of boundaries, I exposed myself to things that caused me massive stress, I did things that were hard to comprehend, I made mistakes that put my wellbeing at risk, I asked endless questions, deep questions, difficult questions, I lost myself once again and I was discovering the answers I truly needed. It’s easy to go with the flow, to follow a laid out path, to let that path shape you well into your mid-life, but it takes a lot of strength and resilience to get lost and found halfway through, to envision and build up your life out from confusion, depression, repeated failure, broken dreams, and a deeply broken heart.
Who are the normal people? I recall my therapist’s words. Why did I let others dictate what’s normal for me? Why could I not make my own judgment of what’s normal and what’s good? Why could I not trust my own judgment? You got to trust your own judgment; otherwise, the ground you’re standing on will get shaky and you will make bad decisions. You got to trust your judgment even when it hurts, even when it’s blurry. You got to trust your judgment to make a decision now. Your judgment might (and will) not be 100% correct given that your experiences at 25 are still limited, but at least your judgment will instinctively prioritise your wellbeing and it will move you forward in the direction you feel true to the most. Don’t be scared that the judgment will not be 100% right. Take that risk. Learn where it might be wrong, and when you know it, go ahead and update that judgment and make a better decision then. The point is, trust yourself and be decisive. Don’t waste time second-guessing.
The world will tell you a lot of things; the people around you, close and far, will tell you a lot of things; you’ll get exposed to contradictory information every single day — about what’s right, what’s wrong, what’s good, what’s bad, what’s normal, what’s crazy. Listen to them, learn from them but don’t mistake their realities for your own, don’t internalise them. Form your own opinions. Choose what works for you and stand up for it. Don’t try to be right. Try to be right for yourself. The world is big enough for different groups of people with different ways of living and different realities to co-exist in peace. We don’t have to shove our ideology and lifestyle and philosophy down others’ throat. We don’t have to force ourselves to take in anyone’s ideology and lifestyle and philosophy either. We don’t have to insist on who’s right, who’s wrong. We just need to know what is our way, find our own people and respect the differences of others. These differences are good. When we meet someone different, we get to learn what doesn’t work for us and open up our mind a little more, then we send them off their way, and that’s okay. Be grateful for the growth and expansion.
I’m 25 and I’m slowly learning what’s best about me. It’s my depth — the depth that’s mainly carved out of mistakes, horrible ones, painful ones, unimaginable ones. My words have depth, my thinking has depth, my character has depth, my decisions have depth, my love has depth, and depth gives substance. This is the depth that can’t be found in privileges, in happy childhood, in smooth-sailing relationships, in well-planned careers, in predictable success, in being right and normal. This is the depth that is born from pain and shame, the depth that gives rise to compassion and humbleness. I finally know it now. I do stupid things now so I don’t have to be stupid the same way 10 years later. I do stupid things now so I can get the big decisions right. I do stupid things now so I finally learn to appreciate what I have and build a life that’s right for me. Maturity isn’t something tangible. It isn’t a clear-cut point. It’s slow and subtle. Your entire being absorbs it gradually each day until one day you notice your judgment gets slightly more well-rounded and your decision serves your long-term interests a little better, and you know. And you will have that knowing moment again and again.
Being 25 is weird. I woke up one day and started freaking out about the blank space in front of me. I was also fascinated by it. There are so many paths I could follow, so many choices I get to make. I feel the weight of my future, of the opportunity costs of my decisions on my shoulder. But it’s okay because I trust my judgment now. I got to trust my judgment now. After all, I’m the first and, many times, the only one I can lean on. I know shit will happen and life will get easier and harder but as long as I find meaning in this journey for all its ebb and flow, it’s all okay. See, I thought I was going the right way but then all of a sudden I strayed so far from the path that I was terrified I would never find my way again. Luckily I was wrong. Straying now and then is necessary. It means I’m being challenged, I’m pulled by different forces that signify something to me. It helps me re-evaluate my values and goals. It helps me reaffirm some current choices while redirecting future steps. Every time I break easily, it’s a blessing in disguise because I’ve just discovered my new weak points and now I could strengthen them one by one. At 25, I take full advantage of all this falling apart. It’s how I pull back together stronger and better. It’s how I grow and keep on growing.