I just celebrated my 37th birthday recently. 37 guys! When did I get so old???
Honestly, I’m having mixed feelings about ageing. On one hand, I feel like I haven’t fully adulted.
My friends Booboo, Boogie and I were talking one time over dinner. We remembered how, when we were in our twenties, we would look at our titos and titas in their late thirties, and be like, “Wow, they probably have their lives all figured out.”
Fast forward a decade later, we realized the awful truth: They probably didn’t know what the crap they were doing.
I seriously don’t feel any older or wiser now that I’m 37.
But, I have to admit that there are also times when I feel every bit of my age.
Whenever I watch or read something now, I would always side with the parents rather than the protagonist. I tried watching “Little Mermaid” again, and I swear, I felt like screaming at Ariel: “Why are you fighting with your Papa?!? Of course it’s a bad idea for you to roll with some dude you just met! Now, get back in that castle and stop stealing from poor shipwrecked humans!”
Anyway, Facebook has this awful, awful habit of showing you your past posts and forcibly making you remember how you were a few years ago.
I decided, on a whim, to look back at oldest posts- when I first started Facebook at 28, just for kicks.
ME AT 28:
Here’s the thing, I always thought that my twenties were the best time in my life. It seemed like everything was going for me.
I was young and had boundless energy (well, boundless is a bit of a stretch; I’ve always been quite lazy), so I was always out: Out at the beach (my bff Ynez and I would be in Boracay at least five times a year. Where did we even get the time – or the money?!?), out with family or friends, or out meeting new people.
I also had very little responsibility. I was living with my parents. And, since utilities were taken cared of, I had the money to spend or save in whatever manner I wanted.
So yeah, it was just a fun, carefree time.
Up until recently, I would I look back at that time longingly and wish I could stay in my twenties forever. But then, I started looking through my Facebook posts. All of a sudden, the truth hit me:
Dear Lord. I was such a complete and utter bore.
(Okay, to be fair I am basing this on social media. I probably had a tad bit more depth in real life. But still, I actually thought it was a good idea to post these things guys!)
For one thing, I was a vain, vain girl who took selfies of herself everywhere!!! And they weren’t even good, instagrammable selfies:
I also took oversharing to a different level. So I had posts like these:
Basically, I was reporting every little, boring thing that I was doing or thinking like some lonely, friendless freak.
Worst, I was incredibly emo. You know those cryptic posts where people would hint that they were going through something, without actually announcing what that something was? Annoying right? Guess what, I had a bunch of those:
Bottom line, if I were friends with my 27-year-old self on Facebook, I would have gleefully unfollowed her. (Thank you 2008 friends for not un-friending me. I have newfound affection for all of you. :p)
ME AT 37:
To be fair, I still post about ridiculously mundane things.
Sometimes I would post about my boring housewife life:
Or some random conversation with my husband:
Or sometimes, some stupid thing that just popped in my mind:
Or an equally random experience:
And yes, sometimes I still get emo:
I know my Facebook page at 37 is filled with long-winded fluff (sidenote: I actually made a conscious choice to keep my posts mostly personal. But that’s a different topic altogether). I would like to think though, that I now see these fluffy things in a different perspective.
So yes, much to my surprise, I realized that I’ve actually matured after all.
Looking back at my old posts, it dawned on me that the same thing I liked about my twenties – the carefreeness and the ease of my life– is the same thing that made me insufferably vapid.
You see, my 30’s, compared to my twenties, have been pretty crappy.
My dad passed away days after my 30th birthday (He was sick a good few years before then. But he was so emotionally strong that despite his increasingly frequent hospitalizations, our family remained upbeat. I think we were half-convinced that he was immortal.) A few years later, my mom moved on as well.
Around the same time, I had to deal with a few failed business ventures, a handful of health scares and a hella lot of relationship heartbreak.
But, in hindsight, going through all of these did help me grow up.
I think one of the reasons why I was incredibly emo when I was younger was that my life back then was so idyllic. So, when something went wrong, I had the urge to lash (and vent) out.
Around the same time I started Facebook, my life was slowly showing signs of drama. My dad was taking a turn for the worse, I was starting to have relationship issues… but because things were easy before then, I couldn’t deal. And so I let the millennial in my xennial take over and I released my frustrations in social media.
Then – I hit my thirties. And it’s as if life finally decided, “Ooh! You’re a full fledged-adult now! Here, let me give you more stuff to freak out about!”
Being bombarded with all these unfortunate events made me realize that no matter what I do, life will not go on according to plan. And I could either spend a lot of precious energy ranting about it, or I can just accept it. (I kinda tend to do both. I throw extravagant pity parties and then when it’s over, I shrug my shoulders and move on. Life is all about balance after all. :P)
My values and my expectations have also gradually become less rigid. I figured that like me, the people I encounter were all just trying to figure out things out. We all have our messes- and we’re all kinda broken, kinda flaky, and kinda weird. Recognizing this helped me stop taking every little thing personally. And it reduced my need to lash out dramatically.
Another thing about going through sucky, painful moments is that the rest of your life becomes quite rosy in comparison. It used to take a beach or a shopping trip to get me on a high. Now, I’m actually just grateful for an afternoon of worry-free napping.
When I was younger, I would make a production out of my birthday. I would either plan a trip (which, in hindsight, was incredibly stupid. I was born in July- smack dab in the middle of typhoon season. My beach trips would always get canceled, but I doggedly kept it up for years) or I would throw a party. This year, I was perfectly content just vegging out in front of the TV.
Having adult problems helped me see the non-exciting, everyday moments with pure joy and appreciation.
It also helped made me gain a new level of love and gratitude for the people who were there for me. And although I’ve always been grateful for my constants, going through painful experiences brought a depth to my relationships that was not present when I was younger.
I realized that at the end of the day, my relationship with God (yes, I do have a relationship with God. I’m just not really evangelical by nature), with myself and with my closest circle are the only things that matter. The rest are just trappings. (Okay, fine. Admittedly, sometimes, they’re I-cannot-rest-until-I-get-you trappings. But they’re trappings nonetheless.)
Memories with loved ones and uninterrupted me-time are my new life highlights. The rest I kinda just tend to gloss over.
On developing a sense of humor
I come from a family with a robust sense of humor. Among all of us though, I was always the most emo. (Okay. Scratch that. Mom was the most emo. I was the most entitled.)
You see, my personal belief was, because I was trying hard to be good person, the world owed it to me to be kind back. So whenever sh*t happened, I would either feel a sense of indignation (I deserve to be treated better) or guilt (I must have done something to merit this). Either way, I felt compelled to react or do something to combat these turn of events.
The thing is, I was bombarded with so much drama in my thirties that I was left with no choice but to see ridiculousness and absurdity of my situation. After a while, it just became easier to just laugh it off instead of fighting back.
And then, it dawned on me that if I could find traumatic life-changing events funny, then everything else was fair game. I mean, after going through grief, for instance, a tita tactlessly calling me fat was no longer something I brooded over- it just became another funny story that I could tell my husband.
There are some things in life that cannot be fixed. And there are some that are not even worth fixing. So rather than obsessing about it, it became much easier to just laugh and let go.
PAIN = GRIT
When I got the idea of looking back at my Facebook posts, I had every intention of making fun of how I had officially turned into a tita.
But it suddenly hit me: if I had to choose, I would rather hang out with my issue-laden, extremely prissy 37-year-old self than my fun, carefree but grossly self-absorbed 27-year-old self.
That doesn’t necessarily mean though, that I am all rainbows and butterflies right now.
Like I said, I still like throwing pity parties. There are days when I’m still overwhelmed and afraid. Sometimes, I go would find myself involuntarily bracing for the next traumatic event, even if there’s really nothing going on in my life.
I was talking to my friend who is currently going through her own mess and I told her, “the thing about going through pain is that you have to accept that you will never be the same.”
At that time, I meant it with the gravity of someone who still occasionally goes through major crying fits in the morning and chain-smoking insomniac episodes at night.
What I realized while reading my old posts is that the transformation caused by these unfortunate events isn’t all bad. Yes, pain has turned me into a jittery, overly-anxious tita of Manila. But at the same time, it allowed me to develop grit, clarity and a sense of humor. And more importantly, it brought about a sense of gratitude.
So yeah, author of old cliché, you’re right. What doesn’t kill you does make you stronger.
With that, I’m ending with a special shout out to my dear friend (and I guess everyone else) who is feeling a bit lost:
You may not see it now, but you will come out of this mess intact. I can’t really promise you that life will get better. But I can promise you that YOU will get better. In the meantime, keep your chin up. One day, this will all make sense.