This Must Be What It Means To Be Young


Seventh of July. I ran to the bathroom as soon as the clock hit 5. I quickly found an empty toilet booth, hung my bag on the door, closed the toilet lid and sat myself down. I remember feeling extremely low, though I can’t remember specifically why. I just knew I couldn’t face the world for another minute. And so I hid myself and burst into tears right in that work toilet like the biggest loser in the world, ready to give up.

The funny thing is that, my situation wasn’t even that bad at all. I even thought I was living the dream of my life until things went wrong all of a sudden and I crashed. I was unprepared. Like that day. I felt weak, helpless and pathetic. I questioned my whole existence and became unsure about everything that I had ever been sure about. At that moment, as my nose started to get red and I was quickly conscious of what was happening — the seventh day of summer, the last toilet booth, bruised toes, wanting to quit — it suddenly hit me hard, “Shit, this must be what it means to be young.”

It must be what it means to be young, like when I woke up to a text from a boy I hooked up with for a month and a half, saying our relationship was nothing special, then gradually accepting it and letting him go. Or when I was all alone at an unknown train station, feet swollen, eyes red tired, expecting someone to give a damn about me and ended up realizing, sometimes there’s no choice but to be strong, and in the end, it’s me who will have to pick myself up. Or when I actually picked myself up from some shit hole of emotional dramas that I knew would be all shit but jumped in anyway because I’m young and dumb. Or when I blamed young and dumb for all my stupid mistakes.

I had always thought my life would gloriously come to a point where I finally transform into a grown woman who’s all wise and strong and incredible, and from that moment on, I will never make the wrong decisions again because I’ve done it all and know myself too well. Well, guess what? I was wrong. There’s no point as such. There’s only me learning and messing it all up, coupled with a lot of failing, crying, feeling like the biggest loser in the world, then again, learning more and more and repeating it, until I understand that I’m allowed to be this way and I seriously need to give myself a break. We all need to give ourselves a break. Maybe even laugh about it all.

What’s the big deal, right? And this is not just about being young. Even if I was in my forties right now, I could still make stupid mistakes and realize there are always new things to learn about myself, about being human, then perhaps I would feel a little bit embarrassed, a little bit ashamed, a little bit like a loser, want to hide, want to give up, want to kill myself, want to save myself, have to save myself, all over again like the typical 21-year-old who’s struggling to forgive herself and find where she belongs to. She doesn’t even know when this would end, or if there’s even an ending at all.

All of that — embarrassment, shame, mistakes, self-hate or even suicidal thoughts — is simply the human thing we humans do, whether young or not. It’s alright because we’re not perfect. We’re here to experience, not expected to be perfect. We’re expected to be this imperfect person who’s irrational, emotional, unpredictable, self-contradictory like any other imperfect persons. And thus we have the permission to royally fuck good things up, to get carried away, to say the wrong things, to make a fool of ourselves, to love the wrong person, to get hurt, to feel lost, to be the unfiltered us even if it means not being liked by certain people we wish would ever lay theirs eyes on us like we on them.

As I was sitting in that toilet booth feeling like I shouldn’t be that way, feel that way, shouldn’t have done what I did, I allowed myself to feel, to do, to screw up. All the tension started to dissolve into relief and I felt me and alive again. I guess, just like that, because we’re imperfect, we sometimes forget that we’re indeed imperfect and we don’t have to give ourselves such a hard time. We are allowed to be wrong, to be imperfect all the way we are. And maybe we’re full of cliches, missed opportunities and heartbreaks and it sucks sometimes but hey, it’s probably what it’s like to be young. It’s definitely what it’s like to be human. It’s all part of the fun. So, we better have fun.