The twenties is a period of uncertainty, self-discovery, and figuring out who you are and what you want to do with your life – that’s what they all say. And it’s true. Adult puberty is this chaotic mess where we’re either searching or creating the person we want to be. Everyone will undergo different experiences, some may not have these experiences. But regardless of the next chapter in your life, it’s all about the process and the journey you undergo that enables you to grow and develop.
In my senior year of high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do.
I was lost.
I hoped to do something more with the world and I felt university could help me grow and provide opportunities for that. I just never thought I could do it. By having an I-probably-can’t-do-it mindset, I was my own barrier to moving forward.
If my seventeen year old self were to look four years ahead of her life, she would have never have imagined how much closer she is to the stars.
I took a lot from this unadventurous, treacherous, stressful first year. One regret I have is not going out and not making an effort to meet new people.
Explore the unknown.
We have so much to see and offer in our community. I was so absorbed in my own world and obsessed with studying I did not take care of myself at all. I held unreasonably high expectations for myself. I didn’t eat, I hardly slept, and dragged my body to school until it collapse.
Please take care of yourself.
Don’t wait until you pass out in a classroom.
It’s a little embarrassing.
And if you’re ever struggling during midterm season and wondering if all you’re suffering will ever be worth it in the end, just know you’re probably not alone in thinking that. It may not look like it but chances are everyone else is struggling as well. Another lesson I’d like to pass on to other students is never let a bad mark bring you down. Grades do not define who you are and what you can offer as an individual. Failure is alright because surprisingly, it’s actually the key to success. Mistakes are inevitable but they’ll give you opportunities to make things better.
Take your time.
Enjoy what life has to offer.
School is important, but so is your life.
Go out and enjoy it.
You may only be able to do it at that time and age once.
This year was so exciting because I was able to transfer into dream university in the city I’ve always wanted to live in.
I was amazed at the campus culture and how internationally diverse the student population was. I was surrounded by brilliant, bright, and accomplished people. I felt very intimidated but at the same time I was inspired. The downside to a big campus is it’s too big. It was harder to make friends, class sizes were huge, and professors for the most part didn’t even know half of the students they taught. I felt alone. I began involving myself in campus activities which helped and I made some amazing friends and discovered as well as gained many memorable experiences. I explored a lot during this year.
I was so excited to move out and be independent. I’m sure a lot of people can relate to this but this is the time where we think we’re all grown up and we know everything and have it all figured out.
If you haven’t found out already, you’re wrong.
In trying to find what I wanted for myself, I was involved in casual relationships that came and went.
I got caught up in one only to get entangled into a mess I couldn’t get myself out of.
I began to question my identity.
Who was I?
I didn’t know.
But I wanted to know.
I wanted to mould myself into a person I knew I could be proud of so I decided to get out there by traveling to Vietnam in the summer to discover my roots and find lost family.
This trip changed everything. It was a journey of self-discovery and it elicited another side of myself I didn’t even know existed.
The atmosphere was saturated with chaos, unknown sights, sounds, and smells which excited me. I never felt more alive. It was in that moment where I understood this was who I was. A wanderer. The world is a big interconnected place and the friends and momentary relationships formed will impact you in ways you’ve never even imagined. I took a step out of my comfort zone and that was when my life truly began.
Vietnam held a lot of intangible moments and experiences for me. It was wild, dangerous, chaotic, dramatic, and crazy.
I came back to school feeling empowered and inspired but it was this year where I was challenged with one of the most difficult obstacles of my life. I came back thinking I had my life and the world all figured out. But I was so wrong. Life has its way of showing you otherwise.
My lola had a stroke and was in critical condition. She lived on the other side of the globe. Though I’ve only met her once, I had such a strong attachment to her. This threw my world off balance. It hurt to think I may never see her again. On top of other ordeals, my mind began to get murky and foggy. In ignoring the transforming state of my mind, I allowed darkness to fester breeding demons that poisoned my mind with destructive thoughts and distorted thinking dragging me into an abyss. In the subsequent months that followed, this silent, malicious force grew until it was too overwhelming to handle.
I fell apart.
I woke up every day questioning my existence and wishing for my non-existence.
I couldn’t eat, I had constant headaches, and I was unable to absorb or process anything properly. I was a moving shell who operated methodically with no reason or purpose. In continuing to not acknowledge my current state, I created illusions and sought to keep myself busy.
Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Falling back on casual relationships, my actions were a cry for help and I longed to remove a mask that concealed my inner demons and pain.
For some reason I wanted to be vulnerable with someone. I’ve never felt so alone in my life. I was trapped in an isolated bubble. I began thinking to myself I can acknowledge its existence or continue to let it gnaw at me until I ceased to exist.
I wanted change.
So I decided to do something about it.
Recovery came when I faced the demons head on and acknowledged its existence. I had depression. And I needed help. I disclosed this dark secret to my best friends and family and it felt like a weight was lifted off of me. In attending counselling and therapy on campus, I slowly began to reconnected with friends and opened myself up to the world.
Recovery welcomed itself to me in the form of a spark which ignited into a flame and morphed into a tranquil light that shed a path out of the bottomless pit I drowned in.
I began to find purpose in myself again through training for a trek I was committed to undertake in Peru.
Don’t turn a blind eye to your emotions or state of mind.
Demons will take advantage of you that way.
Therapy is not a one time fix for mental health, I had to acknowledge these demons were a part of me. They will resurface when I am challenged with negativity and barriers in my life.
To cope with these demons is to accept the world is out of our control. We are better off redirecting our energy to the things we do have control over like our mindset or our passions. Negativity is short-lived and it’s within your power to choose to let it go or let it affect your life.
Peru created a new lens for how I saw life. I found inner strength in my solitude and I realized I didn’t need someone to fall back on.
It’s just me, myself, and I!
And I’m okay with that. If I can drag my body through the Andes, I can do anything. I stepped even further out of my comfort zone backpacking alone in a country with a culture and language I was not familiar with. Through this experience I came to understand people and places will come to you at the right time and place.
Things happen for a reason.
It may not make sense right now but the pieces will fall together in the future.
You will discover there is kindness and good people in this world.
Give them a chance.
Make an effort to dispel your misconceptions.
You’d be surprised.
In reaching the endpoint of my journey, I realized there’s no such thing as impossible. We all have within us the inner strength to breathe life to our dreams.
Everything that has happened to you in the past will lead you to this moment. Reflecting back on everything that has happened so far, I’ve come to appreciate even more my parents who have sacrificed and put themselves before my brother and I. In living on my own, I begun to appreciate and see in a different perspective everything they have done for me. Nothing inspires me even more than watching my parents work hard to create a bright future for us. Love your parents. Because they have done nothing but loved you back and invested their time on a bright future for you.
The things we take for granted now are the things we come to appreciate even more in the future.
New knowledge and truths will give voice to itself.
We are only human.
At this moment in time, my lens are clear. They are knowing and they look at the world through forgiveness and acceptance. But they are dynamic and will change throughout my life course. Yours will too. As long as you can keep them clear, you’ll be able to move forward in the direction you want to go.
Surviving adult puberty will be different for everyone but to do so is to:
Live a life you will not want to regret.
Involve yourself in the pursuit of happiness.
Go on spontaneous adventures.
Cultivate a positive mind.
Follow your heart.
Meet new people.
Because we’re all in this together. And you are not alone.
What’s your story and where will it take you?