• Personal

    Turning Twenty

    8 August 2015

    Turned 20 but still look and act like I’m 12.

    I know I’m rushing things but turning twenty has honestly made me feel extremely old (and kind of wise). It’s a weird thought .. Being two decades old. For so long I’ve had 1 as the first digit of my age and now it’s a 2. The only thing I’m comforting myself with right now is that I’ve ‘levelled up’. I thought it’d be nice to do a little post about some things I’ve learnt whilst I’ve been alive. And yes .. This is still part of my self-therapy in order to make myself feel less mortal than I already am.

    This is a complete cliché, and I guess a lot of people experience it too, but self-discovery has always been a non-stop process for me. It started in the high school days, when rules and restrictions were prevalent and heavily emphasised on pupils. If you don’t fit in a certain category (i.e. intellectual students) then you fail; if you don’t follow the ‘accepted standards’ of the school, you get punished. These factors all have a severe impact on the poor little teenagers’ ability to find themselves, essentially undermining their ability to see how they can fit into this world without being a certain someone or something.

    I’m in no way saying I’ve found my ultimate and true self now that I’m twenty. No. I’m still embarking on this journey of unveiling myself and finding out what makes me tick, what I’m made of and how I identify with the world around me. It’s a fascinating thought – that we’re never ever constant. The world around us has so much influence over us that we morph into the person we become, not in a vacuum, but in a soup of cultures and values that society has engraved into our minds. I’ve slowly learnt that just because society has a certain perception of what makes one ‘acceptable’ or ‘pleasing’, I don’t need that kind of validation in order to find happiness or satisfaction. It’s what makes me different that really helps me discover who I am and what I want to be – and that’s what gives me validation. I’m different and I’m SO okay with that.

    This flows from the previous notion of fitting into a certain category or meeting a criteria in order to be classified as ‘intelligent’ or ‘smart’. Numbers seem like everything in high school, whether it be marks, body weight, calories, or for some, telephone numbers of their cute little crushes. My teenage years were built solely on numbers: I need to get at least 90% in this exam, and if I don’t my whole world will collapse. And, even with the privileges of hindsight, I don’t think I was stupid at all for thinking that numbers were important, because the world around me was constructed on the basis that they were. After graduating and finally receiving my final results that I needed to get into university (law school), I realised that hard work does pay off, but I wouldn’t have had the motivation or strength to push on and study hard if I didn’t have the mentality that numbers are important. I’m not saying that numbers are incredibly important, but I’m saying that the cognitive process and self-discipline we put ourselves through will distinguish us from others.

    And this applies not only academically, but also in other facets of life. How often do you hear people talk about accounts with a lot of followers as if they’re some kind of god or idol? Since early last year, I attracted more viewers on social media than I had ever anticipated, but since then it’s almost like people can’t start a conversation with me without mentioning Instagram or my followers. I think it’s quite terrifying that so many teenagers now (I’m saying teenagers a lot in this post cause I’m no longer one, HA) measure how popular or accepted they are according to likes and followers. Success is often erroneously equated with a high subscriber count. And there’s nothing wrong with using numbers as a way to market your own brand and reach a larger audience; but there’s a fine line between using those figures to understand your audience’s reaction, to figure out a way to build upon that, and merely using those figures to either put yourself down or make yourself seem superior to others. I know the Fashion Bloggers TV show has the tagline ‘building their empires one post at a time’ but some people need to relax and realise that it’s just Instagram. Yes, it’s a marketing tool but it’s not your life. Don’t depend on it entirely.

    It’s so easy to take things for granted, and it’s human nature to instantly regret not cherishing something that we once had or could’ve had if only we hadn’t done this or we hadn’t said that. It’s normal. Notwithstanding my phase of having a strong dislike (refraining from using the word hate because birthday posts need to be A+ positive) for the people I was surrounded with back when I was a teenager (not because there was anything ‘wrong’ with them; it was just a projection of the world inside of me) I can say that the people you don’t realise will stick around, usually do. It’s the people that talk to you when you’re left out of the circle at recess, or the kid who asks if you’re alright when you fall down in the playground and need help going to the school clinic. They’re the ones that stay by you even though you’re being a complete ass crack to them.

    In saying that, know the people you need to detach yourself from and the groups you need to keep a distance from. This is something I’m still learning and I’m sure we all still are as life moves on. People enter our lives, stay for a while, have a good time, then something happens and they either leave or bail on you. Even with the advances of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and what not, we still find it extremely difficult to rekindle our connection with the people that we’ve somehow lost contact with for a period of time, even the ‘bffls’ we had in primary school. But I’ve learnt that just because people have accepted this as a harsh reality of life, so long as I make an effort to preserve the relationships I’ve had with others, then at least I can say I’ve tried. This leads me to a side note and the final point: The world will constantly put you down for not being ‘good enough’ or ‘something enough’ but the only thing that ever matters is whether you know you who are, whether you want to do what you’re doing, and whether it makes you happy. If it doesn’t, leave it.

    This is just a little thought I’ve had for a while but didn’t know how to integrate into this blog. Somehow I thought it was quite fitting to do it on my twentieth birthday. I hope you gained a little bit of insight into the strange little head of mine. Be blessed.

    Some Suggestions

    • Ciara

      Wishing you a very happy 20th birthday Jeffrey!

    • Aw, happy 20th birthday Jeffrey! Also, I couldn’t agree more about how people nowadays depend a lot on the number of likes and followers on Instagram and such… It’s quite sad really.

    • It only gets better from here on. Happy birthday.

      Buckets & Spades

    • What a great list. How often we find ourselves forgetting these simple, inspiring truths. Wishing you the best 20th year.

    • Happy birthday Jeffrey! here’s to 20 being another year of wisdom and countless experience.

    • Happy Birthday Jeffrey! What lovely sentiments for you to have at the big 2-0! The last bit really struck a personal chord with me. “The only thing that ever matters is whether you know who you are, whether you want to do what you’re doing, and whether it makes you happy. If it doesn’t leave it” This is one of those “harsh” realities (in my personal life at the moment), that has been very difficult to grasp and accept. As many other people may experience; sometimes putting yourself first in this manner, makes you feel guilty because it may or may not resonate well with others. But as you said, it doesn’t matter, all that matters is ourselves in the end.

      Wonderful post! Again, wishing you a very happy birthday and thanking you for the thoughtful insight you always seem to provide. <3

    • eun-yee

      Happy Bleated Birthday Jeffrey! Loving your post, I couldn’t agree more with the three thoughts that you have listed above. In your post, especially “I am who I am” relates to me the most.

      I’m constantly still trying to find my true self as a teenager too, bumping into obstacles as I grow. Just like you said being different is okay. It is what “help me to discover who I am and what I want to be.”

    • Albert Wijaya

      Happy Belated Birthday! Have a great and wonderful year ahead!!

      Best, Albert | Palming Pebbles
      Palming Pebbles FB

    • Heythere dreamer

      Ahh, can’t believe you’re so young! I’ve been following you for quite awhile via Instagram now, and I love what you do – I hope you never lose your passion and do continue doing what you’re doing!

      https://heytheredreamerblog.wordpress.com