Becoming an Adult

So I drove my car a while ago around our subdivision just to practice maneuvering in narrow roads. When I walked back to the house, I felt a sense of independence and freedom, knowing that I can finally drive wherever I want, whenever I want. The feeling of being an adult is finally sinking in, and I like it. Yeah, I am a little scared, but that’s just something you have to deal with.

Being alone in our house for a few days gives me enough time to reflect back on everything that has happened, and how I’ve dealt with these things as they have passed. How much have I changed with the way I think, I talk and do? In 3 years, a lot of things have happened and I’ve dealt with them in…different ways. Through this, I am finally learning about the reality of this world, absorbing like a sponge while I remain true to myself.

I believe I have condemned my own self for too long, resulting in a long period of identity crisis. I knew who I wanted to be but neglected my own desires for myself because they seemed radically different from what I was seeing in my environment. Such condemnation wasn’t helpful when I was exposed in different stressful situations, to say the least. I had no real sense of boundaries nor a clear vision of my values. I was living a lie for years.  Perhaps it was my own unconscious self that manifested when I choose this degree that I am currently taking, despite Psychology being the third of my choices. Maybe deep inside, I was realizing that I was not going to spend my 4 years in college wasting time away in a degree that I chose for practicality. Maybe I foresaw that I wanted to see through these four years actually learning something that I can love and advocate for.

I didn’t know who I really was and what I stood for. I had a clouded judgment of my skills and my own character, seeing myself high up on a pedestal. Thus, I didn’t know how to handle problems when they came my way. This resulted in what would be a long duration of being depressed and losing a sense of direction in my life. This was when I felt as if death was the only option because no one can save me. I saw myself as a worthless person not worth saving, at all. I was too deep in the rabbit hole, romanticizing every wound that I inflicted upon myself.

At this point, all these things that have happened to me have reduced themselves into mere stories—significant, but now they’re just stories. They have helped me understand what are the things I value in life and they have helped me understand my own self in their own ways.

I have learned that despite being weird, I am pretty average. I am different only in the sense that I have rather unconventional preferences in the environment that I currently live in. I don’t believe I have “special” talents or skills. I just like doing what I put my mind into and fighting for what I love. Generally, I’m an average 18-year-old girl with a predisposition to occasional insanity. (The only thing “rare” about me is that I’m an INFP.) I sort of tip toe around the issue of being “special” because I used to see myself as one. Things happen to you as you grow up though, and the following quote then makes sense:

“You are not special. You’re not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else. We’re all part of the same compost heap. We’re all singing, all dancing crap of the world.”
― Chuck Palahniuk

I still believe in the importance of individuality. But in order to develop your character, there is a certain kind of harshness that you need to see yourself with to critically evaluate who you are right now and what needs to be done. Through this, you discipline yourself enough to realize the harsh truth that the world doesn’t really care about who you are but what you do for it.

I’ve learned that there’s nothing bad about finding people who are just as weird as you are. People you can talk to for hours about the state of the country or about the paranormal, people you can talk to for different ideologies and opinions—I have developed a tolerance for this kind of diversity because of my genuine interest to learn about different kinds of perspectives. At the same time, I’ve learned how to set boundaries to keep my open-mindedness in check, a safety net to look after myself while I plunge in on someone else’s world. I still have some work to do with regards to my impulsivity and occasional hot-temperedness but at least I’ve been making some good progress. For one thing, I’m not passive-aggressive. (All that CBT reading has led me to learn cognitive reframing and in that way, I am learning to have control in what I do and say and not feel like a victim.)

I’ve learned that it’s important to have a critical eye and an honest mind. It is also helpful to put your feet on the ground. At the same time, there’s no harm in taking care of your soul and letting your head fly to clouds sometimes. Mental toughness is essential but sensitivity and vulnerability are things that should be nourished as well. Your family is your lifeline, your friends and special one your life support—all these matter to your wellbeing and you matter to them as well.

Above all, I’ve learned that you either survive or live. And I have chosen the latter. It’s a constant refining and retuning of your own philosophy that you live by. You will be haunted with the idea that death is always an option and that’s fine. Because at the end of the day, you chose to live. Perhaps this is what it means to have become alive once again.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ― Howard Thurman

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