It’s been such a wonderful birthday so far, and with about an hour or so left of the day, I decided to relax and write until I call it a night. I haven’t been writing too much about my own thoughts over the past few months, so this will be an awesome chance to put a lot of my recent thoughts into writing. I sincerely believe that at my age I’m in no position to be giving life advice – the last thing I want to do is to come off as pretentious. What I do hope to accomplish in this post is to reflect on my past year and express the lessons I’ve personally learned. Shout out to Raakin for inspiring me to write this with an excellent 22 reflection of his own!
This past year has been one of my most physically active years in a long time. Apart from weekly swimming sessions and pick-up basketball, I’ve had the chance to go on quite a few hikes and longer road trips. I don’t think I’ve put my body to the limit like this since high school. At the same time, I can feel the wear and tear on my body, magnified by injuries inevitably brought on from strenuous activity. Throw in entire days of sitting in front of a computer at work, and it’s not surprising I’ve felt some part of my body aching or hurting every single day.
So it’s a strange paradox where I’m at the peak of my athletic abilities but feeling every bit of the discomfort that comes from no longer being in high school or college, and it brought me to a realization – aging is going to suck, but there are absolutely ways to prevent it from detracting from my quality of life.
For one I’m realizing more and more that being in good health is essential to my life. From getting enough sleep to staying hydrated to taking breaks when needed, prioritizing my health is the first step to being prepared for the reality of aging. I’m seeing it as a long-term investment, where the returns don’t necessarily show right away but will in due time. So I’m aiming to be more aware of my body’s needs in the coming years and taking care of myself, much more so than I did in high school or college. It will be a work-in-progress and there’s much I can do to improve what I’m doing today, but it can be a start at the very least.
More importantly, I’ve realized that the most essential thing to do when it comes to aging is to be mentally prepared for it. It’s inevitable, so accepting it as a fact of life and coming to terms with it will do wonders on how I’ll react to the effects of growing older.
I’ve also come to realize that the surest sign of maturity is learning to love and accept oneself, shortcomings and all. Like most people my age (and many other ages), I still struggle with insecurity as I identify my shortcomings. Sometimes I see others who are much better than I am at expressing love, encouraging others, or socializing in groups. It’s tempting to be down on myself, but I’ve learned that true maturity comes with accepting my whole self – not just my strengths, but also my weaknesses. After all, what’s the point of life if I’ve got everything figured out to a T? Life should be a constant quest of self-improvement, and loving myself as I learn from mistakes is all too important.
A corollary to this is being true to oneself. I was walking through the park on my lunch break today when I overheard a group of friends affirm another friend on how they loved him for always being him. Looking back at my own life, I can say with confidence that I’ve never regretted the times I was true to myself. So I hope in the coming years I’ll continue to keep this at the forefront of how I interact with the world around me.
Friendships & Family
This past year was my first year out of college, and one of the biggest changes was how I spent time with my friends. With many of my friends working full-time and living all around the Bay Area, it was much more difficult to hang out on a whim. It’s been one of my biggest blessings because it forced me to make a better effort at reaching out and maintaining friendships that were important to me. On the flip side, it’s also allowed me to focus on the quality of my friendships, something that wasn’t as common in college where I think a lot of friendships happen because everyone’s always at the same place.
So in the coming years, I hope to continue to be intentional with my friendships and focus on spending time with positive people. My barometer for a good friendship is someone who leaves me feeling energized and in good spirits, and that’s something I’ll continue to hone as I meet new friends and keep old friends alike.
It’s been a difficult year for my family in many ways. Without going too much into the details, I just wanted to say that I’ve come to appreciate my mom, dad, and brother so much more over the past few years. Sometimes the most important things in life are taken for granted, and it’s something I’m definitely guilty of, especially when I was still living at home. But in the past year I’ve had the chance to talk to and spend time with my family much more, and it’s really opened my eyes to how important family really is. Love you guys.
Looking forward (and thanks to Ben for getting me thinking about this), my goal is to always be open to new experiences and learning regardless of the circumstance. I think experiencing things is one of my strong suits – it’s the core of who I am. And I’ve learned that the only way to be truly loving of others is to understand as many viewpoints, cultures, beliefs, and stories as possible. And even though it’s not always the ideal environment, it’s still very possible to learn from any time or place, something I’ll keep in mind as I continue to live life outside of school.
I want to close with a quote I’ve written about in the past, by Dr. Carl Sagan in response to the image of Earth taken by spacecraft at the edge of our solar system:
“The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.“
Let’s continue to love one another in this crazy and chaotic world. Thanks for reading, and good night!