Being 26 on 26th

By Laili Muttamimah - October 28, 2022

Beautiful landscape from Manggarai Station.


I supposed to write this on August 26th, my birthday. But many things were going on so I finally can write this now while sitting on the train on the way home. A lot of "strange" feelings have been bubbling up inside of me lately. A friend said I feel this because I have passed the quarter phase of life, which according to a book she reads, our brains are more “formed” as they should be in this stage.
  Maybe "formed" means we’re more mature in thinking and making decisions.

After turning 26, I found myself different as who I used to be. People around me have complained about how strict and uneasy I was once, and criticized how idealistic and tough I was when I wanted to achieve something.  However, that side of me began to fade slowly after going through a lot in the past years. I prefer to go easy on everything rather than overthinking about it. I often laugh at the situation instead of criticizing it. I’m also better in able to hold my emotions cause I realize getting angry and crying require a lot of energy. I'd rather save myself now.


I was quite worried beforehand about the future. Will I live the relationship I expected with my partner? Are we going to live in our own house? Will my career rise to the highest level? Will I become a great person? But in the end, I grew tired of my own thoughts and speculation about things that haven't happened. I can't control something that's not meant for me, I can only live it to the best of my ability.  In the past years, I have been faced with the fact that I have failed many times, my safety point has become unstable, and I have to struggle outside my comfort zone.  But strangely, when I accepted all of that, I was actually fine.  Maybe one day I won't be a great novelist, won't be in a C-Level of career, won't be able to build a successful business—I'll just be mediocre.  But now that I think about it, I found out there's nothing bad actually, as long as I enjoy my life.


My boyfriend and I often joke that maybe we don't live beyond 60—then why should fill it with worry? I think, that has a point. So I stopped controlling things against my will, and even stopped being hard on myself. I actually think more about the little things I can be grateful for: watching those funny videos, sitting comfortably on the train, playing with my cats. I no longer expect to be on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list or pursue a PhD at a top overseas university or get the prestigious award I once dreamed of.


In short, I simplify life, by not seeing the future from the perfectionist Virgo's point of view (haha), but rather preparing to accept all possibilities and adapt to them.


Even in this transitional period, I sometimes feel that something is not right.  Like how I was frustrated by my unfinished draft of my thesis, my research that had not been accepted for any publication, and that I couldn't digest the lessons as deeply as I used to.  I even feel bad when someone invites me into a discussion about why I decided to go to graduate school?  Then feel left out when I don't follow the latest trends and tend to stay at home more.  I even told my mother that I needed my ambitious self for this academic thingy.


But I realized that I can't have it all at once. I have to select what is important and what should be my priority. So that it affects to how replying those chats from friends on WhatsApp is very tiring lately. Surfing on Instagram is no longer as exciting as it used to be. Coming to social events is also very energy draining.  For now, I want to be selfish with these stuffs—and I’m sorry for that.


So let's see what kind of life will take me in the next step, what opportunities will come, and what good things will I receive. At least, today, it's enough for me to know my parents are healthy, I can eat my favorite fruit, and my colleagues keep me company until my overtime is over. As I wrote in my novel, Fresh Grad, that small opportunities are as valuable as big ones. 


Being enough, is what is most needed, for now. :)

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