Last Thursday, I turned 20. I woke up with a renewed sense of energy as if I hadn’t felt it before. It scared me to think there was something wrong about the spontaneity of my genuine excitement for the day. I looked forward to treating myself with a gift, but I kept having the reaction that I didn’t deserve it. There was an automatic gesture in me that pushed me to leave the celebration behind and work on the ways on how I could prosper in my life and career. The party could wait.
As I walked to my morning language class, I thought about the passing of my teen years and the privileges I now lost. I’d tried to remember what a usual teenager would do during his teen years and I only came up with a short list:
- He would want to grow his circle of friends so he would reach out to strangers and that would be just easy for him as he knows how to handle a talk and is confident;
- He would not create a list of priorities;
- He would be reckless at times;
- He would sometimes, if not often, ditch his responsibilities and explore his world through his ways;
- He could slack and just do the things tomorrow;
- He would want to drink, smoke, go to parties, be with the wrong people, have sex anywhere he wants, and just define it as ‘relaxation’;
- He would not care about what the others think of him, even his parents;
Of course, the list is just a theory, but it got stuck in my mind as to how many from the list had I done in the past. Well, if not one, then zero.
Then it hit me how boring and elusive my teen years were. I didn’t have a lot of friends because I didn’t know how to talk to people (in general), and I didn’t feel the need to have tons. I was fine with the small circle I had and I would only seek out others if I needed something from them.
I didn’t have a list of priorities, but I knew I had them even without writing them down. Mine were long-term goals that up until today would be impossible to achieve. I had no room to be reckless because everything should be done to perfection without a scrape or scratch. I could never ditch the responsibilities I imposed to myself, do nothing today, or spend a wild night, partying. I had to work my way to the top and beat my previous best.
After the class, I picked up my bag and made a run to the door. I wanted to leave as soon as possible. As I stepped into the train’s cabin, I forgot the reason I should be excited for the day. Because my birthday was not an excuse for me to enjoy the day. Because I should study for an entrance exam in July. Because there was a breaking news and I should know about it. Because I had to keep the image of a ‘responsible, young man.’ Because I couldn’t let the day slip without achieving anything. Because it was just another day and soon I would forget about it.
I reached the street to my house, but I slowed down this time. I’d always wanted to overachieve at this young era of mine—to be the best among my age and be just that. But the longer I bear this need, the more I miss everything and become stagnant. I want to do all the things I want that it becomes cancerous to me, and leads me astray and to the path where I succeed at nothing.
I was on the verge on crying, but I stopped myself because it was my birthday, all right? But I sighed and looked up to the gray skies, the light shower of the rain descended, and I surrendered myself to my exhaustion.
I was tired. I wanted to sleep. I wanted to rest. I wanted to be healthy without restrictions. I wanted to just breathe and do nothing. But the stronger force surged and it was the first time I hoped it would not win.
I took my time walking and noticed the street had an English pub. Next to it was an ice cream store, followed by an Italian bar. Across the shops, there was a school, squashed between the two apartment buildings. I headed on the other side of the road and there was a bakery to my left. A hair salon opened beside it. Ah, it was a hardware shop after that salon. Then, a lottery store.
I turned to my right and took the long way to my house. I wanted to see if there were more shops in this street that I didn’t see before. Then the excitement hummed in me again. Then a real smile on my lips.
I might have turned 20 today, but I felt as if my soul was already in his 50s. At that moment, I shut down my old soul and powered on the ‘forgotten’ teen years. I didn’t know what would happen today or the day after, but I was scared. Yet I let the thinking go for once and savor the last hours of my birthday. Tomorrow could wait.
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