20: Becoming an Adult
Turning Twenty is Weird.
From a pragmatic — perhaps arbitrary — point of view, birthdays are really weird. To celebrate the day you began to exist on your own, with balloons and cake. We enumerate ourselves, systematizing our time spent surviving by the rotation of the Earth around our sun.
Of course, trying to view such a tradition from such an abstract mindset is really just a faint coping mechanism. An attempt at distancing myself emotionally from the sentimentality of coming to terms with actually, kinda-sorta, becoming an adult.
But no amount of logically arguing the physical realness of birthdays — with myself — can change the fact that they exist. And instead, my time is better off being used thinking about life so far.
Being a child is weird, being a teenager is even weirder. Nobody ever tells you how little anything you do actually matters in the long-run, and even if they did, you wouldn’t believe them.
Every tiny action feels like the end of the world when you’re a kid. Maybe I was just hypersensitive when I was young — in fact, I know that I was — but I can remember freaking out at every slight mistake. Band-aid wounds feel apocalyptic, white lies feel like treason.
That feeling slowly fades when you become a teenager, but it’s still strong enough that you waste your time being anxious over trivial things. I can’t believe how many pointless things I stressed about. School assignments marks, bad comments publicly left on social media, the grandiose politics of cliques.
It’s almost as though we make the bigger picture impossible for ourselves to see. We put the racing-blinds on ourselves to make sure we don’t drift into the realms of impossibility, like our parents and our teachers tell us not to.
And the disconnect between how we feel and what we say is vast. How often do we find ourselves acting in a way that we promised ourselves we wouldn’t? We lose our values in the heat of the moment. We’re weak. I’m weak.
All that being said, I don’t regret procrastinating homework or moving school-to-school, I also don’t regret acting like an idiot most of the time. I do regret not being nicer to people, not giving compliments to passers-by more freely, not taking the high road.
The earlier you can realize that your career, your material possessions, your clout or anything else are completely dwarfed by the importance of quality time with others, the better.
Of course, I sound pretty silly — ruminating on my past as though I’m an elderly man at the twilight of life.
It’s ridiculous for me to look back on my childhood and not take the responsibility my actions. To stop hindering myself from creating a better future, as opposed to always complain about what-might-have-been.
I’ve also done a few things that I think are pretty cool, like composing and producing two neo-classical albums:
As well as being a musician for the visual novel Featherbent. A fan-made production based off of Homestuck, which coincidentally ended today after seven years of production.
I do, though, feel embarrassed by the fact that I haven’t produced any music for a number of years, now. Procrastination is, I suppose, a nice name for the anxious feeling of paralysis.
As a lyric from a The Mountain Goats song goes:
Making contact gets harder as the silence grows longer,
And isn’t it only me.
I’ve also been a fan of writing for quite a while. I’ve hoarded dozens of poetry books over the course of my life, particularly enjoying 20th-century American transcendentalism of Whitman and Dickinson. The post-modern and prophetic worlds that T.S. Eliot created inspired me so much, that I took on the moniker Hyacinth Boy as an allusion from The Wasteland. (This wasn’t as nerdy in my head, I swear.)
I manically wrote three to four hundred poems over the course of my high school days on Tumblr, two-thirds of which are gone forever from deactivating the account a few times over due to that end-of-the-world thinking I was talking about earlier. The amount that I do still have I’m slowly moving over to Medium.
But as I’ve written before, I’ve taken more of an interest in non-fiction and essay writing. As much as I enjoy writing poetry, I can’t really take it seriously, but maybe that’s just a lack of confidence.
Leaving a Legacy
Footprints in the sand
The real reason, I suppose, that I’m writing this is to start a yearly review. Yet another idea that I’ve shamelessly borrowed from Buster Benson. I need to take a step back and really consider what I’m doing with my life — what my plans are, if any.
I don’t know how much time I have left. Nobody does, as much as we enjoy pretending we’re immortal. It boggles my mind how so many people care more about their money or energy as opposed to their time. You can always get more money, you can always get more energy, you can’t get more time.
I want to use the time I have to the best of my ability. I have a lot of interests, a lot of programs and schools I wish I could go to.
But I can’t do everything, so I decided to go into computer science. As lofty and idealistic as it sounds, I figure I can do the most good for the world pursuing this field. I want to work for non-profits and humanitarian efforts, maybe specialize in bioinformatics or astrophysics. But that’s all a long way away.
My biggest dream — not an uncommon one — would be to work for NASA or SpaceX, to find a way that I can help expand humanity past our pale blue dot.
For now, I’m content with just working hard at a constant rate. I think the most important realization I’ve had is that life is work. It’s just a matter of finding work you can enjoy.
That’s all, I guess. Happy Birthday to me (it’s still weird).