Song of the post: Paradise by BTS
7 is a special number so I thought I’d do something nice, something more for this year’s anniversary. I made the header myself and I’ve come a LONG way from my poorly, TeamViewer-ridden photoshop made headers. Granted, I didn’t have access to the same kind of technology but that also adds up. And I’ve come a long way as a person, too. So, I thought I’ll try something new. Very much inspired by this video of YoungK and partly by the YouTube channel ODG, my 17-year-old-self is going to interview my 24-year-old-self. I was 17 when I began this blog so it feels slightly monumental to have come this far.
I originally planned on writing (and crying) about YoungK’s Eternal album but it looks like I will be busy with work so I thought I’ll do this.
It’s going to be in script format (since I really enjoy writing it) so I hope you enjoy reading it!
An imagined scenario of my 17-year-old-self (17yo) meeting my present, 24-year-old-self (24yo).
17yo and 24yo come together to sit on the opposite sides of a bench. 17yo eyes are wide, even though she’s trying to contain her cool.
17yo: is this how I’ll look seven years from now?
24yo (giggling): yes, yes. We haven’t grown much taller, have we?
17yo: I still had a full year to grow!
24yo (patting 17yo’s knee): your height is the last thing you should worry about.
17yo: You seem cool, though.
24yo: I do?
17yo: you’re different from how I expected you to be.
24yo: Different how?
17yo: like a better version of myself, I think? I mean, I always had this grand idea that I’ll be like this and that but those versions of me seem too…idealistic, I guess? I don’t know, I think this is somehow better. More real.
24yo: well, I’m glad to know that.
24yo: You must have some questions for me.
17yo: well, I don’t know, really. You know that I don’t like knowing the future.
24yo: Yeah, but aren’t you curious?
17yo: …a little?
24yo (laughs): then don’t hold back.
17yo. Okay, first question… so like, you’re 24, right?
24yo: yeah, I am.
17yo: how does that feel like?
24yo: honestly, does anyone know how to feel their age? Or what age must feel like?
24yo: what age do you feel you are?
17yo (thinks): I feel like I’m 12 sometimes.
24yo: exactly! I don’t know what 24 is supposed to feel like but I feel like I’m 17. I mean, I know I’ve come a long way from that age—
17yo: seven years to be exact.
24yo: --yes, thank you. But I know that I’ve gained 7 years of experience but I still feel young and dumb and scared, sometimes. The world says that’s how you’re supposed to feel when you’re young but nobody tells you how these feelings amplify when you’re in your twenties, when you’re supposed to be the mature one. Someone who is sure of herself. Accepting that is…difficult. But we’ll manage.
17yo: but…you seem sure of yourself. You seem confident enough.
24yo: Currently, I focus being the best version of myself: as confident as I can be, as sure as I can be, as self-aware as I can be. I can’t guarantee that all the time but I try. with time, you’ll learn to put up a front, too. But soon enough, you’ll be so confident that you won’t need a front.
17yo: like a mask? But isn’t that fake? Isn’t that bad?
24yo: you need to be the judge of that yourself. You don’t have to stick to one narrative that someone else writes for you. If you decide you don’t like putting up a front or faking your confidence, then that’s up to you. Not because someone else told you that you have to be your true self all the time. It can be difficult. You need to do the things you do that can help you cope with it.
17yo (deep in thought, nods): I don’t think I understand that much, but you’ll say it’ll come with time, right?
17yo: then I’ll let time do its thing.
24yo (smiles): what else do you wanna ask me?
17yo: Um, second one. Are you…happy? Now, in life? With where your life is, with what you’re doing?
24yo: This is difficult to answer without scaring you off. But knowing you, I think you’ll take it in stride.
17yo frowns but bites lip.
24yo: happiness is…it’s fleeting. It’s not a final stage you achieve. Like, you go past all these stages in life and you reach peak happiness and that’s it, you’re done in life. That’s not how it works and I know you know that but sometimes, it’s easy to forget. I am happy right now, speaking to you. Will I go home feeling happy like this? I don’t know. But I like focusing on the present and if I’m happy right now, that’s all that matters.
17yo: what if you’re not happy right now?
24yo: then I go on with life feeling the non-happy feeling and then it will go away.
17yo: and it will be replaced by happiness?
24yo: hmm. I don’t think that’s how it quite works. Happiness is not a default setting in you. And you don’t just feel two things, right? there’s a lot of in-between feelings, feelings you feel like they’re bursting from inside you but have no names for. You’re sad but also you’re happy. Sometimes you’re happy but you’re also sad. Other times you’re angry and frustrated but also feel like crying and sobbing. You know you don’t have anything to feel sad about, but you still are. When it goes away, you feel calmer. Better. Happy is not quite the word. And in time, you’ll learn to define happiness by your own terms.
17yo (confused): sometimes I feel like life is too much. Like, so much that I want to break something, or scream or anything. Just so I can make sense of everything around me.
24yo: yes, exactly. We can’t name these things but with time, we’ll learn how to deal with them because it’s one thing to feel so much and think that this is out of our hands. But it’s another to let it affect what we do.
24yo: you’re bored and I’m annoying you, aren’t i? (laughs)
17yo (lies): no, no
24yo: I swear, I’m not preaching you what happiness is and should be. It was a difficult question to answer.
17yo: fair enough, I guess.
24yo: I suppose you have more questions for me?
17yo: I have written some down. I have like 7, since it feels like a special number.
24yo (grins): okay, shoot me.
17yo: I feel like that’s an inside joke that I don’t know about.
24yo (laughs): you’ll know—
17yo: --soon enough, yeah I know. (takes deep breath) okay, three. are you where you want to be in life?
24yo (thinks): honestly, no. But it’s not really in my hands at this point so I’m taking anything I can get, within reason, of course, and simply trying to go forward. However slow.
17yo: that’s depressing.
24yo: it is, isn’t it? But it’s also not, sometimes.
17yo: how so?
24yo: because there will be little things in life that you can appreciate and sometimes, they seem worth living for.
17yo: is it one of those things that you’ll know once it has passed?
24yo: that depends on you, doesn’t it? If you want to, you can cherish this moment right now, while it’s happening. Or you can think back on it and choose to cherish it later.
17yo: how do I know which moments to cherish? What if every moment I live feel like I need to cherish it?
24yo: it’s simple, you cherish everything because sometimes they repeat and sometimes they don’t.
17yo: you know how you sound like?
17yo: you know when there’s an event and there’s a panel discussion and a bunch of people who look pretentious sit there and say a bunch of stuff that I don’t understand but I admire anyway because they sound so smart, even if they are not sometimes?
24yo: are you saying I sound dumb and pretentious?
17yo: no, I’m saying you are one of those people. But more genuine, I guess? Definitely more honest and tad pretentious, but then again, I think most people are pretentious anyway so it doesn’t count.
24yo: and you admire me?
17yo: yeah, I guess?
24yo (laughs): never change, love.
24yo: So, what’s your next question?
17yo: can I ask you for some advice?
24yo: of course. I’m not good at it, but I’ll try.
17yo: Do you have dreams? Like, ambition-dreams? This is question 4, by the way.
24yo: Like becoming the CEO of a company in 10 years, or being in so-and-so position by this year? Something like that?
24yo: not really. Before I answer you, why do you want to know?
17yo: it’s just that, people around me seem so sorted, you know? Like, they have big dreams and want to do big things and they know just exactly how to get it. But I’m like, I don’t know what subjects to choose next semester, bro. Or what extra credit course to pick. Much less what I want to do ten years down the lane. When people ask me what I want to do with my degree, I don’t know what to say. I seem to subconsciously borrow other people’s dreams and make it my own until I find my own.
24yo: I’ve thought about it a lot, too. People around you want you to do different things because they think you’re “capable” of doing it, in whatever sense that is. But what I’ve come to realize is that dreams look different to different people. If you ask me today where you want to be in five years, I will say by the end of the day, I want to go to bed feeling happy and satisfied with my life. That’s my dream. Is it less valid than the others? Not at all. Does it mean you don’t want to aim high in life? Absolutely not. Even at this point, I don’t have high ambitions. My only dream is to find the right and perfect opportunities at the right time.
17yo: but that’s not in your control.
24yo: exactly, so that remains a dream, after each passing opportunity.
17yo: I don’t think I understand, though.
24yo: Let me quote you something: “It’s okay even if you don’t have a dream as long as you’re happy”. Does this make sense?
17yo: A little.
24yo: I know, it’s scary not being clear about your life in this highly competitive world. But the sooner we learn that we all need to move forward in life in our own pace, the better. Just because someone else is studying and doing a million other things in life doesn’t mean that we can, too. If we want to, yes, definitely, but this pressure of being busy, having to sort out your weekends and plan your relax days is not healthy for us.
17yo: but it doesn’t make things any less scary.
24yo: nothing gets less scary; we just learn to handle it better and not get scared.
17yo: okay question five. One piece of advice you want to give to me.
24yo: you know when you unintentionally hurt someone with your words, and you see their face fall as they struggle to seem to be unaffected by it? But you notice it and you suddenly hate yourself for making them feel that way?
17yo (nods): Too many times.
24yo: What happens when a friend does that to you? And they apologize to you?
17yo: I forgive them. It was unintentional and yeah, even if I was hurt, it’ll go away, right?
24yo: right. So when that happens from your end, you need to treat yourself as a friend and forgive yourself. Take time but you need to learn to be kind to yourself because one mistake won’t define you. Even in that moment.
17yo: So I should just let it go? (frowns)
24yo: No, you’re going to reflect on it and be more aware next time. SO that you don’t repeat it. That’s how you move on. It’s not entirely letting go, but in some sense, it is. It might take some practice and it might feel a little selfish but you need to take care of yourself before others.
17yo: sounds like a paradox.
24yo: it kind of is. But you gotta do what you gotta do.
17yo: okay moving on to number 6. Is there something I need to work on, in the future? To become this…this best version of myself?
24yo: Apart from keeping an open mind and learning to question everything, I also think reading is an important aspect. I know you read, and I know non-fiction is boring and “too political” but I hope that you’ll have a foundation of some sorts.
17yo: but why would I need to learn about politics? I’m studying environment.
24yo: you understand how environment and biology and chemistry and science in general are all interlinked right?
24yo: social science is the same way. Science cannot exist without humans and we can’t disregard them in our lives. We can’t disregard ourselves. It’s important that you try learn to see from all aspects.
17yo: You sound like you’ve gone into politics and seen too much.
24yo (shakes head): Just some observations. See, we have this whole notion of what being political means. It’s not going to protests and throwing stones and telling the government to resign. It comes with the small things. The choices you have, the options you choose, in literally anything, has a political and social reason factor to it. Once you recognize that, you can’t decide that you’re going to stay far from politics. That’s not who you are.
17yo: that sounds sad.
24yo: it is, but that’s just the way the world is. The only way to change it is to start with yourself. You’re a bit young to understand these things right away, but two, three years down the lane, you’ll understand. It’ll help you understand yourself better and helps you be the best and confident version of yourself.
17yo: You’re not going to give me details, are you?
17yo (sighs): Okay.
17yo: Last question.
24yo nods and smiles.
17yo: Do you have any questions for me?
24yo: Were all of your questions answered?
17yo: Nope. I have more questions now but they are more like, time will tell types.
24yo nods: Curiosity has never been our strong trait, has it?
17yo sighs and shakes head.
24yo: I suggest you develop it. Being afraid to ask questions only holds us back. Okay?
24yo: stay happy and be brave, okay?
These were some things that I wish someone had told me. I think there were more things I want to tell but for now, I’ll leave it at this.
I’m glad for 7. Things aren’t very different from how 6 was, but that’s okay. I’ll be here for 8, so let’s hang on and do our best until then.
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