So I just turned 32 when I wrote this. I’m legit old. I’m not complaining or anything. I just feel like my age right now. A certain feeling of satisfaction is soothing my senses as I’m writing this. Either that’s years of experience assuring me that everything will be alright, or that’s the amount of cake and ice cream that I ate earlier.
I just realized I haven’t written anything these past 2 birthdays that I had. So let me get you up to speed (assuming you really want to know).
- I had to take a break from dealing with people and live like a 5-foot-4-inches yeti for more than a year.
- I had to deal with lots of demons in my head: from the past, from the present, and the future.
- I had to atone for a lot of shortcomings and bad decisions. I still do to this day, and hopefully, it will all be done soon.
- I’m gradually getting my life together.
- I get to work for a company that believes in me and I love working for them.
- I got a car now (finally).
- After all these years of searching and waiting, I finally got a partner who loves me as much as I love them (I know, even I can’t believe it)
- I’m building up my savings from the ground up. No more YOLO lifestyle babeh!
- I’m trying to get healthier. I’m trying to go back to my healthy habits. Yep. No more YOLO lifestyle.
So now that we cleared that up, let’s talk about 2020.
This year is a total mess. A global pandemic has hit humanity really hard. We lost a lot of people. It’s not just the fact that people got sick that is the tragedy. It’s also a matter of how they got sick.
Some did their best to keep themselves and their families safe but they contracted the virus at some point.
Some chose to serve the public, got the virus while doing their duty, and died as heroes later.
Some didn’t heed the warnings of experts and instead listened to spawns of Satan.
We can go on and on about how people got the virus and how absurd it is. But I think we can all agree that this sucks big time.
We lost a lot of legends this year too. Some died due to the virus, while some of them didn’t. Regardless of how they died, they were all devastating in their own ways.
Eddie Van Halen is not much of an inspiration for me personally. But I admire him as a musician and how he inspired the next generation of rock guitarists.
Chadwick Boseman gave life to King T’Challa, and his inspirational scenes and speeches always make me tear up.
John Lewis is a civil rights icon that fought for everyone to the very end. I learned a lot from him through his interviews and videos.
I only discovered John Prine recently when I was watching Colbert and it’s sad to see a legendary songwriter pass.
Listening to Bill Withers and Kenny Rogers on the radio indeed was a remarkable part of my childhood.
Finally, I was never a hardcore basketball fan. But it’s always a treat to see Kobe Bryant play. Even when he retired, watching his interviews and speeches can really motivate people. It’s always sad to see a man with so much passion leave this world so soon.
This year has also been a year of protests. In Hong Kong, the protests against the controlling and unwelcome arms of the mainland government became violent and it appears that a peaceful ending is still out of reach.
In the US, the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and lots of people of color before them ignited the spark of revolution inside every American. It brought attention to a lot of systemic issues that they’re having. But it also widened the gap between progressives and conservatives.
Here in the Philippines, the situation is a bit hard to explain. The pandemic made the situation even more complicated. The people started to see the blatant incompetence of certain people in power and the clear double standard that applies to their allies. Certain people saw these shortcomings as what they are and want to hold these people accountable. Certain people doubled down and defended them. The discourse is getting worse by the day. We haven’t mentioned the recent aftermath of typhoon Ulysses (Vamco) yet. Talk about kicking a guy when he’s down. Just my word of advice: help in any way you can, and stay away from social media for now if you can’t handle toxicity very well.
This year has been a terrible one in general. But we need to help ourselves to appreciate the good things no matter how big or small they are. At times like this, we need to take solace from whatever we can find. If we can’t help ourselves, we can’t really help anyone else. Embrace small improvements. Celebrate small victories. Finding joy from small things will keep us going as we heal from all the wounds.
Speaking of joy, I would like to talk about success. This year, I was reminded of the things that I realized during my social media sabbatical a long time ago. I would like to share them here. Hopefully, someone can learn something.
These days, success appears to be measured by how much stuff you own, or how much money you have in your bank account, or how much you travel, or whatever. If you’re not a person with a clear view of how the world works and you don’t know what you want to do with your life, you will believe that this is the case. You will believe that to be successful, you have to get more stuff than you need. When you don’t have certain stuff, you will ask yourself why you don’t have the things other people have. When you finally have them, you are happy for a bit, but that happiness is fleeting. There will be times when you start to doubt yourself.
“I’ve been doing this and that. I worked hard to the bone. I already have this and that. Why am I not happy?”
This is a familiar situation to me. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to have a lot of stuff. I want them because they look so cool. I don’t really have any plans for myself. I don’t have any specific career in mind. All I really wanted was to make a lot of money and buy a lot of stuff. I guess I just got lucky that I got a career that turned out to be my passion and it also pays well.
I’m not earning boatloads of money. But I sure bought a lot of stuff. When I buy new stuff, I feel happy as I pick it up, open it, have a whiff of that clean factory smell, and hold the thing with my two hands. But that happiness is fleeting. I start feeling empty again as that happiness fades away. Then I would want to buy more stuff. It’s a vicious cycle that gets pretty tiring in the long run.
At some point, I just found myself with lots of stuff but I still can never consider myself successful. I’m in my 30s, all of my stuff are depreciating assets, I got nothing in the bank, and I completely took my investments for granted. Sure, some people would argue that money does not define a person’s success. Sure, I agree with them. The only problem is you really can’t feel successful when your assets are depreciating and you got nothing reserved in case an emergency arises.
It then hit me. Success is never really about how much stuff you bought or how much money you have or where you spend your holidays or if you can flex on social media. Success is about having that peace of mind that no matter what happens, no matter what you, your family, and everyone that you care about needs, you got what it takes to help the situation. It’s that soothing realization that you’ve made wise investments in terms of money, time, and energy. Success is a sense of fulfillment for yourself, so flaunting what you have is not really necessary.
Finally, I would like to talk about balance and responsibility.
I think if I have to pick a tagline for this year based on my experiences, the first phrase that would come to mind is “happy medium”. This year has taught me a lot about finding that happy medium. Being in an actual romantic relationship is something new to me (surprise, surprise). It’s not easy to make two people with two sets of views agree with each other. We grew up differently and we were raised differently. Sometimes our beliefs would clash and sometimes there are arguments. But the best thing about the two of us is that we’re willing to talk about our differences and we always work to reach a compromise. The term “happy medium” always comes up in our conversations. From what we understand, you’ve achieved a happy medium when both of you agree that you have different sets of views but you’re willing to work on those differences, establish a compromise, and make each other happy. It’s not about winning or losing. It’s about working together as a team and being one with each other. A relationship won’t work if people just do whatever they want and not consider the other person’s welfare. You should be partners in every sense of the word.
Another thing that comes to mind whenever I think about our relationship is responsibility. I’ve been dealing with everything on my own my entire life. I sure have friends and family that I can count on most of the time. But I believe that what I am right now is an effect of my decisions. If I fail or succeed, it doesn’t really matter since it’s just me that will be affected. That’s why for years I did not care about my savings, my career, and my health.
Getting in a real commitment with my partner really taught me a lot about responsibility. This time, I can’t be as careless as I was since it’s not just me that would be affected by my actions. I really have to save up for the future. I need to step up in my career because I want to be someone my future child can be proud of. I need to be healthier because I want to live longer so that I can be there for my partner and I can see my future child grow up to (hopefully) be a better person than I am.
It was not easy to swallow at first. At times I ask myself if I really have to do it since it really makes me uncomfortable. Sometimes I just get angry and it feels like everything and everyone is against me. So many responsibilities all of a sudden really overwhelmed me, and this time, I just can’t mess it up since I’m not the only one who will get hurt.
But that’s the thing, actually. I’m not alone anymore. My partner is a great person that is willing to deal with all these changes with me, help me process these changes, willing to set up compromises, and is willing to take over when I’m not able to deliver. I don’t have to do everything on my own anymore, and I can’t wait for the time I can spend my entire life with her.
Despite all the hardships and anxiety 2020 has offered everyone, I sure am looking forward to 2021. I hope and pray that we can all find the strength to end this year standing and look toward the next year with our head held high. Let’s all help those in need when we can, and be nice to everyone whether or not they’re nice to us. Hopefully, 2021 will be a better year for all of us. Well, I’d definitely write about it on my next birthday regardless of how good or how bad it is.
Bien is a software engineer for more than 10 years, focusing on Microsoft .NET technology. He developed solutions ranging from embedded systems to accounting systems. He spends his free time trying to understand the world and its people.