Everything I Never Imagined Life Would Be As A Twentysomething
I know, I know, I keep mentioning that I'm turning thirty soon, and it's probably a "gentle reminder” for you to buy me a present (lol, of course not!) but if I’m being completely honest, I think I keep saying it out loud to convince myself that thirty isn’t such a big deal, yet at the same time I want to make it special—you get what I mean?
In the same way that my peers keep referencing the book-turned-blockbuster movie Crazy Rich Asians, omitting the “rich” when referring to themselves, I’d like to say I’m not quite thirty, yet flirty with life, and thriving in non-monetary aspects. What do you think?
The past few months have got me reflecting (I know, I seem to be perennially on reflection mode, right? Well, blame it all on the school papers I took so seriously before!) on how funnily interesting my life as a twentysomething has become so far. Long story short: it was nothing like I imagined it to be.
NOT KNOWING EVERYTHING
I used to think of every twentysomething as all-knowing. They can file taxes on their own, write off checks, fill out VISA application forms in a breeze and without any self-doubt. They also know their geography by heart and can drive or commute everywhere and anywhere. But surprise, surprise, being in your twenties doesn’t guarantee that, or any real-life knowledge for that matter.
So far, I have learned all the aforementioned through attending seminars, Google, asking elders, and consulting with peers who’ve done it before, each time ending with both of us asking, “why didn’t they teach us these life skills in school?”
BECOMING A PARENT TO A PARENT
Growing up, I always thought I could ask my mom or dad anything, and would get an instant answer. They were Google to me, even before I knew of Google. It was my dad, in fact, who’d love a good Q&A—which probably explains why I, too, love digging into stories and asking questions wherever it interests me.
But I don’t remember my parents talking about taking care of their own parents. Not even in school—it wasn’t in the least bit slightly mentioned. Parenting a parent—I realized only recently how much of it is a reality that must be faced and, perhaps, talked about. I soon learned that not all adults have had the privilege of caring for their own parents, too, so perhaps that explains the lack of discourse about the topic. It can, at one point, feel like such a burden. After all, you've relied on them forever. But I read somewhere how it can also be seen as a privilege. Consider yourself lucky, if you are able to aid your parent until his or her last breath. If you have helped him or her tread through unknown life destinations, maybe because you might know better or maybe because you are the only one who can do it.
Becoming a parent to a parent, for me, can mean as far as teaching your mom or dad how to download games, to explaining how Grab works and why Grab Pay gives you more discounts. It can also mean caring for them when they are ill and becoming completely responsible for them, making life-changing decisions on their behalf. I don’t remember this being taught or discussed anywhere, until I myself experienced it and opened it up to friends. Which then makes me want to say that if you, who are reading this now, or anyone you know may want to talk about it, I’m here.
STARTING OVER FOREVER
Whenever I’m about to jump, take risks, and wildly decide on impulse, I’d often be told to just go and do it. Quit overthinking. After all, how will you know? Where else will you get the answers? If not now, then when? These are a few of my favorite lines in the world and I wish for everyone to read it whenever they are in doubt.
School was a clear and direct path. We all needed to graduate. That was the common goal. But real life is completely different. When it comes to choosing a career (switching careers, even), what to do with your savings, and even deciding what kind of person you want to be—there isn’t a step by step process. As the coffee advertisement goes, for whom or for what do you wake up in the morning for?
As for me, in the last several years after graduating from college, I found myself starting over and over again (sorry, can't help but cue the image of Toni Gonzaga and Piolo Pascual in their heartbreaking film). And I guess while that’s pretty unexpected, it's an experience I appreciate, after all. There’s nothing like a fresh start—and having the privilege to do it. Again. And again…
I don’t recall my parents blatantly asking for help from others so it’s either they were extremely self-sufficient, or they might have done it discreetly well. This is probably why I am quite surprised at how often I seek help from others, friends and family alike.
And you know what, it’s actually a good thing. I realize that despite being an adult, I can’t really traverse through life’s greatest tests and trials alone (while of course there still remains aspects you’ll have to deal with on your own), and at the same time, seeking help also opens doors for myself to be of help to others. And that’s when I truly feel blessed without the hashtag or superficial connotations. Simply put, I feel grateful that there is still help to be received, or that I am in a position where I can help.
I remember staying on the dining table for hours and hours as a child, prohibited from leaving it until I finished my veggies. It's funny how my parents would force me to eat gulay (veggies) and fruits, but are smokers. My dad would always buy me Piattos, especially when I'm sick. Oh, and the coffee-drinking, too. I grew up to the smell of coffee every morning, thanks to my parents.
Back then, I thought that one magically just grows up into an adult, complete with an acquired taste for gulay and all the healthy foods. For a time, though, I did start craving for gulay and sabaw (soup), which I used to hate. But ultimately, I thought living healthily doesn't come with age.
For me, it comes with the fear of getting sick, as well as self-taught knowledge on the importance of food and exercise, a.k.a. realizing that all the favorite junk foods I've been consuming since kindergarten are in zero ways good for me. At this age, I still make bad decisions, such as eating ramen before I sleep or having a McDonald's meal delivered on impulse as a midnight snack. Forming healthy habits in mind, body, and spirit, is hard work.
Remember all the boys and girls on your news feed flaunting their workouts, yoga poses, and such? They're all there out of their own choice as adults. To be fit and healthy is borne out of their constant, daily decisions, not age.
I mean this in all ways: mentally, emotionally, financially, what have you. It doesn't come naturally. Even having a stable job doesn't automatically equate to one being and feeling stable! As with purpose, I think being stable is also a continuous pursuit that requires constant work.
ON WHAT REALLY MATTERS
Funny how before I only wanted a job that would allow me to dress however I wanted to. That was one of my top requirements! Another was that it should be located in Makati, because I've always imagined myself living that fast-paced, working girl life.
I'm lol-ing in the deep at myself here, because five years after, I did a total three-sixty. I'm now pro-slow living—well, to an extent. Because of Manila traffic, I no longer want to work in a far-away CBD. Location and compensation became top priorities, but also these: I want to be able to do work I'd be proud of, so much that I'd put my name on it. I want a company that values your output, your creativity, and not blind you with money or a benefits package that will only eat your soul. I want a brand that makes money out of good things, not fooling the market or making them even feel even worse or lacking. I want a boss I can look up to, who will allow me to work on projects on the side, and be genuinely supportive of it, too.
PSA, if you are any of that, please hire me or let's work together!
This might be a common sight growing up: adults working nine-to-five jobs, doing household chores regularly, caring for the family, and even having time to meet with friends and relatives from time to time. Now how exactly did they reach that level?
I always find myself wanting to conserve my energy and be on my own. I’ve reached to that point where I unconsciously streamline where I go or who I must be there for. I honestly thought twentysomethings would be teeming with energy and party all night because they’re earning their own money and it’s about time parents let go of them, right?
Uh, not for me. I've had energy gaps more than I can drink Milo everyday. Maybe even in my early twenties I’ve aged too soon and have become a tita in spirit. Well, to each her own.
How about you, what misconceptions have you had about life as a twentysomething? Share them with me in the comments section!
COVER PHOTO BY ARVIN BAUTISTA, SHOT AT BGC HOSTEL & DORM, MAKATI.