I remember being eighteen and wishing I was not that girl. I did not really have a concept of wanting to be older, hence wiser. But I just knew, fundamentally, I did not want to be eighteen. I remember wishing I were not so naive, so tentative, so unsure of this being that houses my spirit, my core. I may have staggered through life after that. I turned eighteen and I just had no clue. So I tried on every personality, every face I could wear. Do you remember being so schizophrenic?
There were days you were very brave. You put on your warrior face. And there were days that you felt like this pupa, just waiting so painfully to turn into a butterfly. There were days that you succeeded and days that you did not. And there were the in-between days, when you were neither here not there—just sailing along like a piece of driftwood at the mercy of the stream.
And somewhere along the way—after years of picking out colors and music, costumes, plots, and characters (the heroes and the anti-heroes) that would complete the cast and background of your life story—you simply turn thirty-something. And in a flash, you realize you survived despite yourself; or maybe precisely because of who you are, you survived. Nowadays, you only stagger when you’ve had much too many drinks at a friend’s birthday bash. Because only your real friends would spend that much money on booze to get you that drunk. In an instant, you discover two things: First, wow! You do have real friends. And two, there is no blow that life can deal you that will be too fatal to knock you unconscious or even make you stagger, because now you know when to sit by the curb and wait it out.
You also know that every success or failure does not mark beginnings or endings—they are simply seasons that do come and go, and you learn to ride its tide. In fact, you’ve become quite the expert at riding tides. You can write the book on riding tides.
And every so often, you come across yourself, and meet her, and have a real conversation. You get to know the beauty from within her—her life story. You journey together forgiving yourselves for all the mistakes—the simple and the complex. You encounter the real you, and she’s not too shabby after all … not too shabby. She is the same eighteen-year-old girl. Only now she has blossomed into this interesting woman who had experienced life—a woman whose eyes had stared at sadness and came to know such joy too. But now she can now tell the difference. She had stared at passion and had learned to live with or without it. And she had looked for love and found it within her instead. She had seen discontent and befriended it until it yielded contentment.
Schizophrenia or not, you realized that everything you needed to live life fully was fundamentally there staring you in the face. But at eighteen, somehow you develop a tunnel vision that you lose sight of the bigger picture. Nobody could point it out for you. You had to turn thirty-ish first. You simply had to.