22 thoughts on 22
And now, two minutes past my birthday...in the spirit of my 22 years of existence, and following my birthday blog post last year, I've decided to make this year's equally as introspective but a little less serious. These are some scattered thoughts I've collected over the past year. I understand that I'm not old enough to know the answers to everything, but I'm young enough that I want to learn as much as possible.
This is pretty much a plus-sized version of the Minute Thoughts series ^_^ so thanks to everyone who reads these and keeps the blog alive!
22 THOUGHTS ON 22
1. It’s so surreal looking back to where I was last December, and seeing how much has changed. How much I’ve changed. I’ve been surprised by things, by people, by myself, more times than I can count. And I suppose it can be said for any year, but it's amazing just how different things are. A lot happens in a year. But I think this past year was an important one. I spent a lot of time by myself, reevaluating my life and my purpose, stuck in an existential crisis (so what else is new). But I also got close to a bunch of people I didn't expect to. And it's nice.
2. One of my favorite things that I've stumbled upon in the past year is the Thai word “jai” (ใจ). From my research and understanding, literally translated, “jai” means “mind.” But when used colloquially, it can mean “heart,” “mind,” or “soul.” And I think that's really beautiful, because it acknowledges the existence and usefulness of the soul when discussing both matters of the brain and emotion, a sentiment that really resonated me after reading De Anima in two of my classes last year. In my opinion, the soul is a vital part of human existence. Without getting too scientific or too religious, I think the soul is what makes us alive. I don’t know how accurate it is, but I once read an article about the weight of the soul. So I thought it was exceptionally elegant of the Thai language that it should have a word that recognizes the relationship between three different but interwoven parts of aliveness. I think as I get older, I understand more deeply and with more clarity just how fascinating and delicately complex human life is, and the more I want to learn about what it's composed of, all of the tiny little distinctions that make it worth living.
3. And with getting older, I realize that a lot of people, once they’ve lived their lives, are focused on finding happiness and purpose. And a lot of people are content with just going through the motions. And I'm always curious as to whether both kinds of people consider the merits of the other side. But the closer I get to adulthood, the more frantic I become, the more pressure I feel to make something of myself. And the more excited and simultaneously terrified I am.
4. I don’t think compassion is a reflex or an instinct or a compulsion. I think it’s a consciously learned behavior. And it's interesting how we often let cynicism overshadow it, and have to re-learn.
5. I am now 22 years old and I am still so happy with soft blankets and/or pillows. I am not a difficult person to please.
6. One of the most difficult things I've had to learn (and am still learning) is how to change your mind gracefully. That is, to accept new information and adjust your perspective accordingly.
7. More than anything, before I die, I want to leave my mark on the world. I’ve talked about this with a couple friends, all who share the same kind of frustration with convention, and who all want to have the same impact. We want to solve the world's problems, not subscribe to the practice of making the already-privileged population's lives marginally more convenient. We want to make a difference. And I don't want to have worked hard in my life only to find that I’ve accomplished nothing, or traded real happiness in favor of comfort. It's a naïve ambition, of course, but I feel like your existence isn’t validated until you’ve done something remarkable. And it doesn’t have to be anything big or extravagant. It simply could mean making a difference in the life of one person. But it has to be something. Something that makes you more than just a speck in the universe.
8. You are never, ever too old for Calvin and Hobbes.
9. Familiarity is always reassuring, and it’s increasingly difficult to leave it behind as you get older.
10. One of the most important things I’ve learned is that you have to spend your time on the right people. They say you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, and I've always taken that to heart. You have to surround yourself with quality people, and you should only invest in people that are willing to invest in you.
11. My mom sometimes calls me a bull in a china shop, because I’m really clumsy and I often have zero regard for spatial sense whatsoever, but I’ve realized that I can also be a really reckless person with other people. As much as I like to think I have empathy for others, I sometimes hurt people without realizing it, just by being selfish or careless or insensitive. And it’s something I need to work on. It’s something I’m always working on.
12. For someone who doesn’t “need” a lot of people in my life, I tend to intensely need a select few people, and those people are always there for me. I am very grateful for that.
13. There’s this quote from one of my favorite TV shows, Nikita: “The truth is what we choose to believe.” And even though it was written by some TV writer to make the character seem dark and mysterious and brooding, I actually think about it all the time. It's a very honest statement, though not something everyone wants to accept, because we like to think the truth lies in absolutes or facts. But our reality is shaped by what we choose to filter in and internalize. And often that’s the terrifying part.
14. I said in my post last year that timing was a bitch. Well, it’s one year later and it still is.
15. I hate when people quote Marilyn Monroe. She's beautiful and funny and pretty damn tough, but I hate when people say “If you can't handle me at my worst, you don't deserve me at my best,” for three reasons. Firstly, it's widely disputed that she ever even said that in the first place. Secondly, she did virtually nothing. While she wasn't necessarily the dumb blonde/party girl history books have painted her as, and while I respect the fact that the characters she portrayed are not representative of her actual persona, she was one of the most famous movie stars in Hollywood and an iconic part of American cinema and pop culture, and she didn't really do anything with it. Audrey Hepburn achieved the same kind of status as Marilyn Monroe, but became a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF and a notable humanitarian instead of appealing solely to the male gaze. And lastly, the people who invoke that quote tend to always be at their worst, and the kind of people that mistake aggression and entitlement for feminism or empowerment.
16. As feminism becomes more “mainstream,” it's important to remember that the goal is equality. Too many people get caught up in gender politics and political correctness, and end up seeking to blame someone. “Feminist” has become synonymous with “man-hater” or “angry,” and so much of feminism is trivialized simply because it isn't approached in the right way. Feminism and masculinity are two sides of the same coin; one cannot exist without the other, and it's important for men to be involved in the conversation too.
17. I hate writing cover letters. I hate that they’re still so formal and structured and, quite honestly, very dull. The whole process of writing one, regardless of how invested you actually are in that particular application, is so disingenuous. It's like a whole flirtation, a carefully-constructed courtship, and I just wish it were more straightforward.
18. I recently found out that a girl from my high school committed suicide a couple of months ago. I didn't know her personally, but I knew her name and her face. I searched her name, and nothing about her death came up. I can't decide if that's respectful or not, but given the caliber of journalism nowadays, I assume news outlets just didn't think it was worth their time, which is pretty tragic. It's a terrible situation, and even worse that no one is talking about it. It's concerning to think that young people honestly believe that there's no way out of their path than to kill themselves. We need to have a serious conversation about the way we treat mental illness.
19. I’ve realized I need to be more open with people. It's like a learning process, with every relationship I have, and I have to start from the beginning each time. But it’s difficult.
20. I don’t believe in soulmates. And if there were such a thing, statistically, you’d never meet them or end up with them. So I think the best thing you can look forward to in a relationship is someone that makes you laugh so hard your stomach hurts, and following the glitz of the honeymoon phase, still wants to make you happy and is willing to put forth the effort and commitment to make it work. And mostly, someone whose company you really, truly enjoy.
21. I love psychology. It’s so fascinating. Being able to understand the way people think and how they make decisions is truly valuable (and I think this is why advertising appeals to me). It makes you question your own humanity, your own morality. Hitler is one of the most interesting and terrifying examples of psychology. And while most people regard him as a monster, he was still a human. He honestly believed that he was doing good, and he was dedicated to his cause. It's easy to distance ourselves from awful people, to believe that we would never be capable of such despicable things (see the Stanford Prison Experiment and the Milgram Experiment, two of the most well-known psychological studies). But it's much more difficult to understand that we are similar in many ways.
22. I even procrastinate on my blog posts what is wrong with me...