The Boy Who Cried “Let’s Hang Out!”

My Symphony: Something Here / Day Wave

Growing up is strange in that the people you used to hang out with everyday begin to gradually but steadily diminish into faces without names, and names without faces. Hours of deep, meaningful conversations at the football field have turned into minuscule scroll-down glimpses on Facebook. Countless heart-to-hearts have deteriorated into the most casual of “what’s up’s” and “hello’s”.

Who are we? Or, I guess, the more appropriate and less ambitious question is, who were we?

We were once kids, who (without doubts or hesitation) would knock on each other’s doors at two in the morning just because. We were once kids, who unconsciously spent more time with each other than with anyone else, on a daily basis. We were kids who drank their first beers together, smoked their first cigarettes together, and lived through their first heartaches and heartbreaks together.

Perhaps friendships are just naturally more challenging as we age. Back in high school, everything was just easy. We were in the same school, in the same classes, liking the same things, sharing the same goals (mostly consisted of passing Physics and submitting our Research papers on time). Some were even living on the same street, talking about the same trends, listening to the same music. ‘Follow’ meant literally following each other around school during lunch, recess and dismissal, ‘Like’ literally meant liking each other for and despite all his/her flaws and imperfection. ‘Friends’ literally meant people you cry with one second and laugh with the next. Life was a series of sleepovers, unplanned Saturday afternoons at the mall, secrets involving crushes and mortal enemies, and the usual horsing around over fishballs and ice crumbles.

But growing up has changed all of that. Hanging out is now a super-conscious decision you have to make. You don’t just happen to be in the same vicinity with your friends all the time. A mere meet-up for coffee takes a lot of scheduling, rescheduling and compromising. Nothing is as easy as it was. Now, you actually have to really want to see someone in order for you to afford the time and energy (and sometimes money) that it takes to meet with someone.

And this is exactly why friendships in this stage of our lives are the most important: these are now the friendships we choose to have, the friendships we choose to keep; the relationships we decide are gonna progress and develop into something larger and realer as the years go by. We no longer share our deepest darkest secrets to just everyone in our circle, and in the rare event that we have a sleepover, it isn’t just high school buddies passing time anymore; it’s like-minded souls mutually sharing in each other’s worlds, exchanging thoughts and ideas, basking in the light and warmth of a presence which, although rarely present, will always be genuine. We stopped being kids hanging out, and started becoming human beings connecting.

I love you, dear friends.

P.S. Let’s not be strangers…

The 10 Most Successful Men On Earth

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Photo credit: Dwin Formaran | IG: @thedwinformaran

When we think of success, we often think of larger, wider, brighter things that are constantly seemingly out of reach. We envision stack after stack of dollar bills, glossy skyscrapers, mansions with heated pools, hundreds of paparazzi and a seven-digit pool of Instagram followers. More and more, the ways in which we measure success have been close to society’s norms but far from the truth. We have been blindly programmed to keep on dreaming with our eyes instead of dreaming with our hearts. And aren’t dreams an occurrence that takes place after we close our eyes, anyways?

If you Google “The most successful man on earth”, the first result will be a bulleted enumeration of names that are familiar to almost everyone: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson and Walt Disney. Below you will find a link that invites you to see more of the article from which the enumeration was taken from. You will then be redirected to a page where you will see a larger list of people with their full names, their birth-death years and a brief description of their achievements, all cataloged under the area of industry or expertise they are/were best known for.

Now, don’t get me wrong; these people are undeniably notable, and they have achieved and invented a lot of things which have helped the world and a lot of people in many ways. This isn’t a hate mail addressed to them. They do deserve recognition, and they do deserve applause. But where it becomes worrisome is when we live our lives with the superconscious attempt to achieve as much as they have achieved, or to get as close as we can get to wherever they got to. Where it becomes ugly is when we start to view success as something that we need to work really, really hard for — when we begin to spend our days feeling somehow empty and defeated just because we do not look anything like Mark Zuckerberg’s chequing account or Kylie Jenner’s Snapchat stories.

Life is not a race, and it is definitely not a contest. Sometimes, the small things are actually the big ones, and the best things in life aren’t even things. So if you think you are not successful, have a look at this rather unorthodox list of the ten most successful men on earth…

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Photo credit: Alfred Marcial | IG: @alfredmarcial

  1. The Man Who Has Loved

It is one of the oldest stories in the world, and probably too old that it has transformed into a succinct cliche: “Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”. It’s true! If you, at any point in your existence in this world, have felt that warm, cozy, almost-indescribable feeling in your chest when you look at someone deeply in the eyes, then consider yourself not just lucky, but successful. When we were younger, fairytales and rom-coms made us all believe that falling in love was easy. And then we grow up and learn that it doesn’t happen to everyone. True love takes courage, trust and, most importantly, friendship, and it only happens a couple of times throughout a lifetime. If you’ve ever experienced it, congratulations!

  1. The Man Who Appreciates Nature

The more you live, the sooner you realize that there’s no better place to be than right next to nature. Sunsets are more than just about days slipping into nights; they are a reminder. Blue skies are more than just nice sunny days; they are an enlightenment. Waterfalls and oceans aren’t just liquid grazing solid; they are an awakening. If you are someone who can sit still in peace as you appreciate a magnificent view of mountains, beaches, canyons and fields, congratulations!

  1. The Man Who Truly Knows His Value

The modern world dictates that we need to do this and that because if we don’t, we are deemed failures. We as a society have become restless – always looking for ways to please people, always obsessing over more Likes, more Followers, more Retweets. Life has become less about genuine connection and more about virtual recognition. Most people nowadays turn to social media for affirmation, for attention and for valuation. If you are someone who is confident and mature enough to know your own value in this world without seeking validation in all the superficial corners of the Internet, congratulations!

  1. The Man Who Can Be Moved (Literally)

There’s a reason why we do not have wires and cords attached to us: because we are human beings. And as humans, we are capable of change. We are allowed to grow, to get to know ourselves in our own ways, and to take on new life challenges that will later on help us become better individuals. We are not meant to stagnate in the same space for the rest of our lives. We are adaptable, versatile beings who are biologically designed to overcome struggles, drastic changes and overwhelming circumstances. If you are someone who welcomes change and challenges with brave and open arms, congratulations!

  1. The Man Who Can Be Moved (Figuratively)

Another reason why we do not have wires and cords attached to us: we aren’t robots. We are allowed to feel. We are allowed to cry, to laugh, to smile, to frown, to feel like we’re on top of the world one minute and in the deepest, darkest depths of hell the next. We are emotionally mobile creatures. If you are someone who can encounter a piece of art (a painting, a film, a writing, a song, et cetera) and be greatly moved by it, congratulations!

  1. The Man Who Knows Kindness

It is absolutely scary to think that kindness is fast becoming a sort of an “endangered” virtue. It is also something that people think can be translated to a couple of nickels and dimes given to a street beggar every other week. Kindness is more than just the act of giving someone something of your possession; it is about empathy and compassion. When somebody is down, miserable and lonely, and you (despite your hectic schedule) decide to be there for them to comfort them, support them and encourage them? That’s kindness. If you’ve ever been there for someone during tough times, congratulations!

  1. The Man Who Is Present

These days, it is too common to see people everywhere looking down at their smartphones and tablets that in the mega rare instance that you see someone who’s not, you think apocalypse just arrived and you have less than ten seconds to have your final look at everything around you before you vanish into the vast unknown. It’s nuts! Genuine eye-to-eye conversations have now turned into mouths speaking to each other with eyes staring directly down at separate screens. Most people just aren’t present in the present anymore. They are somewhere else all the time, scrolling, sharing, liking and commenting. If you are someone who knows the value of a moment enough to put your phone away and see someone clearly in front of you as you speak, congratulations!

  1. The Man Who Isn’t Friendless

Friendship is one of those words that have gained traction but lost meaning. In reality, friendship, just like love, is a rare thing. Companionship happens a lot, and so does affiliation. But real, long-lasting friendships are rare. Friends are the people whom you can count on especially in times of emotional distress, and they are also whom you can count on in times of complete fun and randomness. Friends offer a type of love and care that you cannot feel from other people, and they are often the people who have seen you in your best and your worst. So if you have a solid circle of people whom you call friends (regardless of how big or small that circle is), congratulations!

  1. The Man Who Does What He Loves

Life is too short to do something that you do not enjoy doing. However, life is also not that simple. There are bills to pay, and not everyone gets the chance or the opportunity to do exactly what they love to do in a professional setting. A lot of people who love dancing work in banks; some who are passionate about painting work in sawmills; others who are very talented at singing work in hotels as housekeeping attendants. The list goes on. But let’s take a moment to appreciate the guy who changes from slacks to sweatpants to join dance rehearsals after his 5-PM end-of-shift at the bank. Let us appreciate the girl who vacuums floors and washes sheets at hotels so she can afford singing lessons. Let us appreciate the people who keep on painting despite their already-tired hands from working so hard in sawmills. If you are someone who may not be loving what you’re doing professionally but still finds ways to do what you love, congratulations!

  1. The Man Who Has Connected To Another Man (Or Woman) In A Genuine, Penetrating, Effervescent Way

This is probably one of the greatest successes one can experience in his lifetime: to feel a great connection between you and somebody else. If you come to think about it, this life we live is full of complications. There are more than seven billion people on this planet, and we are all just trying to live our lives the way we know how to live them. And we do get moments of joy and clarity, but there will always be nights when we hit our beds after a long day at school or at work and feel that something is missing; that something isn’t right. So when we happen to cross paths with someone who just “gets us”, someone who lights up our day just by existing, someone who literally finishes our sentences and someone who speaks to us without saying a word, we hold on to them. Because we know that genuine connections don’t happen everyday. If you are someone who knows somebody whom you feel that electric chemistry with, CONGRATULATIONS!

The Effervescent Flair Of My Peter Pan Love Affair

My Symphony: Magic / Colbie Caillat 

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Sometimes, life gets too hectic that I forget how quickly things can change at any given moment. One minute you are so deeply in love with someone with everything that your heart could possibly give, and the next, you are broken up with that person. Your eyes are red and puffy from crying yourself to sleep three nights in a row, and all you really want to do is disappear for a solid month or so just to give yourself ample amount of time to heal.

But when it gets really interesting is not in the beginning nor the end. Just like with all of this world’s greatest stories, the juiciest part is in the details – in the middle of everything. When it gets really amazing and worthwhile is in the little moments that make up this large, exhilarating mental collage of love, life and everything in between.

I am at the point in my life where I am no longer a kid, but also very far from being an adult. I am in this blank emotional space that puts me in a tight spot between wanting to settle down with someone, and wanting to explore the world around me. Given my restlessness, my occasional histrionic antics and my constant indecision, being in this space hasn’t been easy. I have to admit I have always felt like I am on the edge of a precipice, just letting the wind cradle me back and forth, waiting for life to happen.

And then, out of nowhere, I find myself in a completely different place. Quite magical, very surreal, somehow scary but nonetheless invigorating. What do I mean by this? Well, you know that feeling when you were a kid and your parents brought you to the candy store? That has been me lately. I feel like a little kid in a candy store just completely overjoyed upon the sight and the scent of sweet treats right in front of me.

In this case, though (partly because I am 23, and partly because I have outgrown candies), my source of joy has been a boy – a boy who has gotten me on a sugar rush that never ends, inside a candy store that sells no candies.

I honestly never thought that love could be this simple. I guess maybe that’s why young love is so special. Unlike mature love (a.k.a. the rational type of love), young love is straightforward. It is fearless, it is bold, and it is so many kinds of wrong in all the right ways. And if it were up to me, I would continue giving my heart to people as if I had never gotten my heart broken before.

With you, I feel like my young self again. You make me fall without fearing getting hurt in the process (because it is inevitable, anyways). You make me want to take miscalculated risks, because we know those are the only risks we’re not going to regret having had taken by the time we get older.

Instead of settling down with you, I want to take it off with you. I want to go places, see other cultures, learn languages and embrace every single living thing a little tighter than I already do. You inspire me to grow, but not necessarily grow up. And it’s a good thing. It means that you keep me centered, but just enough so the tip of my toes can still reach out to the sides and feel the edges. You make me fearless, and you ground me just enough so I can eventually be catapulted into action.

Whenever you kiss me, I do not feel owned; I just feel loved. I do not think about the logical side to kissing whenever our lips meet. In fact, whenever our lips meet, I do not think at all. I do not have to worry about the next move, or how I am going to slide my lower lip and press it against the tip of your chin after I bite your tongue casually. I just let go.

Even hugging you is playful in the most romantic way. The second our bodies meet, I melt into yours and you melt into mine. There is nothing complicated about it. Just two bodies with like-minded souls coming in contact. I think it’s beautiful.

When we talk, we do not have to compete or make the effort to sound smarter than the other, because being smart or not is not the point. Conversations in this young love are filled with ideas, unfiltered thoughts and realities, and the sheer pleasure of learning more about each other, one verbal paragraph at a time.

At night, when I go to bed, I feel like I am sleeping right next to my bestfriend. There is no heavy emotional stuff to discuss before bedtime, so we talk aimlessly and then we laugh. And then we laugh a little more until we find our eyelids getting heavier with exhaustion. And then we fall into slumber. That simple.

I hear your name and butterflies fill my stomach. I see you and I instantly become giddy. It is love we have, but it never has to be overly complex and dramatic. It is love, but I still have a crush on you. It is love, but you still somehow make me speechless and occasionally stumble on my words. It is love, but you give me momentary speech impediments.

We are young, and what we have is definitely young love. And I like that.

I like that our normal is other people’s crazy. I like that we have allowed ourselves to fall for each other without thinking of any consequences. I like that we get to be lovers and friends at the same time and build each other up without even trying. And I like that, even just for now, I get to spend my life with someone so alive, so pure, so amazing. Someone who definitely makes any ride worthwhile.

We are young, and we have so much more to learn. But, boy, I have decided. You are one of the rare ones. And I am keeping you in my life forever, no matter where this zigzagging road called life will take us.

Afterall, little boys can never be sad inside a candy store. 🙂

Pre-Birthday Thoughts

My Symphony: Gucci Bag / Reema Major 

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Almost 23.

At this point, it is safe to say that I have reached the equilibrium of my post-adolescent years (a.k.a. my early 20’s). I think that for the longest time, life for me was an unnecessary emotional struggle (90% of which was self-inflicted). I don’t know, maybe it is kind of normal for a pubescent creature to be melodramatic and somehow masochistic. But I feel like I’ve gone through enough bullshit in my life that now I am almost immune to it. Needless to say, life has been easier for me lately simply because I have managed to develop a mental process where I eliminate toxic people, excess things and rotten thoughts slash memories from my entire system. It’s been great!

I don’t believe that people change. People never change. You are who you are, and that’s probably who you’ve always been and who you always will be. That is my main belief system. And looking at myself right now, I am proud to say that I am still the direction-less kiddo you all knew from college. The truth is, I do not know what I want (generally speaking). And I am happy about that. Not knowing everything that you want only means being open to possibilities. Larger, wider, brighter possibilities. Not knowing comes with a sense of calmness. It comes with a pinch of excitement and mystery. It is quite beautiful, actually.

I grew up in an environment where everyone around me seemed to know every specific detail of what they wanted from life. At some point, I was also kind of pressured to know what the fuck I wanted to do with my life after college, and “stressful” is not a good enough adjective to describe what I went through with all that. But, see, the thing is, I have always been this way. I’ve always never known what I want from life, from the world, from the people around me. I rely more on my feelings and my gut instinct when it comes to my short-term decision-making (because I only ever really make decisions for the short term). The minute I consult my brain about what to do, I get into this repetitive tip-toeing from one thought to another, and it is never productive. This is why I thrive more on taking life one day at a time as opposed to carefully planning out every single detail five, ten or twenty years too early. That’s just not how I roll.

When I turned 22 last year, I was bulldozed with a lot of overwhelming questions about my grand plan for my future. And I know at least half of those people were probably genuinely concerned about me and my well-being, but I mean, let’s be real here: the other half just wanted to make me feel like shit. And they tried to make me feel that way! But they failed (hashtag LOL). To everyone who was so aggressive towards me on my birthday last year, and asked so many personal questions that didn’t need to be asked whatsoever (and also to anyone who is planning to sit me down and give me another pep talk about the great mother effing future this year), here is a piece of my mind regarding the matter:

Ladies and gentlemen, the biggest deception of life in the modern society is the greatness of the future and the fleetingness of our youth. Because the reality is, the future isn’t that great. Maybe it is kind of peachy, but it can never be as good, and as fabulous, and as spectacular as the here and now.  Why, you ask? Simple. Because it isn’t even here yet. It may or may not happen. That’s why it’s called the future. NO ONE KNOWS. And our youth? It is not at all fleeting. It is actually decently lengthy, and the only reason it doesn’t feel that way is because you jamokes have decided that for some reason, turning twenty means you have to go out there and start “adult-ing”. And I’m just sitting here eating my fries thinking Nah-uh! Adult-ing is so overrated and so overhyped. There is absolutely nothing special, impressive or even remotely satisfying about it. In modern day terminology, adult-ing refers to relatively young people complainingly taking on tasks that are supposed to be deemed “adult-like”, “responsible” and “mature”. But the fact of the matter is that, just because you are paying a couple of bills and not living with your parents, doesn’t mean you need to consciously label yourself as an adult. It honestly just metaphorically makes your youth go by faster. It’s a not-so-healthy state of mind which you blindly put yourself in. I swear to god, this world will judge you for being 22 and not successful. But that is a whole ‘nother blog entry because first of all, success is different for every single person. And second of all, screw society. So, for the love of perky coconut trees in the Bahamas and Mary Kate Olsen’s luscious locks, enjoy your youth and don’t let anyone take that away from you. Youth is not the one that’s fleeting, but your resistance to society’s pointless yiddie yaddah yaddah’s. 

Amen.

‪‎Love Is Not A Game I Play Anymore‬

I think that at the end of the day, the greatest irony of love is that no matter how many times you fall, you never get used to it. It is a constant struggle, a constant push-and-pull, a constant give-and-take. For the longest time, I thought that being in love meant so much more than what it actually does.

Love is a theme many artists have bled for, many warriors have died for, many friends have fought for. But love is simple. And it took me almost a decade to realize that love, at its very core, is nothing else but friendship. A friendship that lets you grow, encourages you to be better and effortlessly inspires you to be kinder. To things, to people, to life. To the world in general.

And right now, I am seeing it (love) in the brightest light. I never thought it could be this real and this non-complex. Love is a verb, not a glittery adjective or an excessively imposing noun. It’s something you do.

And that’s exactly what I intend to do. You can stay in my heart for an eternity, or you can stay for a mere second. But as long as you are here, I will love you for all that I am, with all that I have, because of everything that you are. ❤

I Have All The Chill In The World (Until I Actually Like Someone)

My Symphony: Follow Me / Hardwell feat. Jason Derulo

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Today I just had one of the most major realizations in my life — I realized that I have all the chill in the world… until I actually, seriously, legitimately like someone. 

If we were just hanging out or, say, casually dating, I wouldn’t mind being my chill self at all times. You could text me those super cheesy Snapchat stickers and I would respond three or four hours later with a “haha” or a simple “omg you’re so cute”. 

Because I’m chill like that. 

You could choose to talk to me whenever, wherever you please, at your own convenience, and I wouldn’t feel stupid or taken for granted. We’d spend one night together having sex, making out, watching your favorite TV shows and hanging out with your pet cat, and then not see each other for another week or so, and it would be totally fine with me.

Because I’m chill like that. 

I would talk to five other guys on Skype and Messenger while you and I throw sweet nothings to each other. I wouldn’t mind you being with your girl friends, your guy friends, your gay friends, your lesbian friends, or your family for the better part of the entire month. I wouldn’t even complain if we made a weekend plan together and have you text me 12 minutes before we were supposed to meet up that you “couldn’t make it because of a social emergency” a.k.a. you having been invited to a high school house party last minute. I would read your brief sorry text and shrug it off, as I sip on my third glass of red wine at home, consequently opening Grindr or Tinder or maybe even Craigslist.

Because I’m chill like that. 

As a modern day nonconformist, I would be even more chill in the sense that I would never ever doubt you, or feel any sort of jealousy with the people you spend time with while we’re still just dating. I would never, ever, be the first one to ask you to spend some time with me. I would totally be cool with a couple of casual kisses and a couple of casual fucks here and there every other month.

Because I’m chill like that. 

But here’s the thing: I like you. A lot. And when I like someone, I don’t hold back. I immediately lose all my chill, and I like and love with all that I have.

Do you even have any idea how much energy it takes for me to hold back? To tread lightly? To “take it easy”? I am a lot of things, but stingy isn’t one of them, especially when it comes to life experiences that I very well treasure and hold close to my heart. Experiences like you, and your smiles, and all that you are.

I am one of the chill-est people you’ll ever meet, but expect the exact opposite once I have fallen in love with you. Because, babe, I love out loud. And I am not going to sit back, feel sorry for myself and apologize to anyone for being this way. Because honestly, if you ever get overwhelmed with the way that I love and eventually decide to walk away, I would rather be walked away from because of loving too much and showing too much, rather than loving too much but showing too little. I am not chill like that, no. Not when it comes to you.

So, yes. I want all of you with all of me. I want you in my Saturday nights, but especially in my Sunday afternoons. I want your name popping up on my notifications every now and then, and I want to hear your voice as often as possible. And no, I am not saying you have to be by my side every second of every fucking day; All I want is for you to at least want to be by my side every second of every fucking day. Because I want the same thing, and I need the same thing. When you can’t see me for the night or have to cancel a plan we made due to the other elements in your life propelling into action, I just need you to respect and love me enough to at least let me know, and make me feel like you feel badly about it, even if you don’t. I want your cool kisses in the morning and your warm embrace at night, and when I go hop in the shower I want to hear your voice saying “Wait for me”.

Because I am not chill. Not with you, no.

With you, I am honestly a raging, skyrocketing, samba-dancing strip of lava just ready to take over everything. I am not chill with you, and I don’t want to be. People always talk about settling down in relationships. Well, I don’t want to settle down with you; I want to freaking conquer the world with you and live out loud with you. I don’t want you to be my resting place; I want you to be the spring that catapults me up to fly into the vast skies above. I don’t want us to chill. I don’t even want us to “hang out”. We are better than that, and you know we are realer than that. Screw hanging out. Let’s motherfucking DATE. Screw chilling, let’s motherfucking have a DINNER. And screw “see you tomorrow”, let’s motherfucking “see you now”.

I am not a fan of holding back, and it sucks that I am feeling worried about the possibility of you being scared away by the reality of my heart’s functions. This is me, and this is it. I love you, and I wouldn’t be so non-chill if I didn’t. And, I guess, I just feel like life is too short to hold back when it comes to the matters of the heart. I’ll save the chilling and the holding back for the shallow, boring, non-engaging people I meet along the way, but definitely not with you. You are one of the most amazing people I have ever met, and I’m not going to just settle for a once-a-week kind of romance with you. You deserve more (way more) than that.

P.S. Yes, it’s safe to say that it’s not you, it’s me. 

What It’s Like To Be Inside Looking Out

My Symphony: “Always” / Panama 

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If this was high school, I’d be the perkiest, coolest, most popular kid to ever grace the corridors and hallways of my Alma Mater.

But nope.

This ain’t high school. This is the real world. I am 22 years old, and the only thing I am gracing isn’t the hallways of a school but the streets of this small town, as I try to look for a job that will support me and my lifestyle choices.

At this point, it is safe to say that I am not living the dream. In fact, I feel like I am living the nightmare. My very own version of nightmare. You might say that I am being a little too dramatic about this, but I am not. This is actually the bold, bulging truth. I am happy, yes. But I am not living. 

You see, my whole life, I’ve never been the type who conforms to what anyone else tells me to do. I’ve never been fond of career goals, business plans, 401K’s or the idea of spending close-to-a-decade amount of time in Med school. To state the obvious, I’ve never really been a follower of the whole “Right Path To Success” platform. That’s not to say I am a dreamless bastard, though. In fact, I have this huge dream, this glittery, flowy, almost ethereal dream that has perpetuated within me for many years. And this is the purpose of my writing here today. I need to get this one out, because when the American poet Maya Angelou said that there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you”, she probably wasn’t fucking around.

So here I go…

People usually wonder what it’s like to be “in”. It’s just how it typically goes. Ever since we were  little kids, we were being unconsciously bombarded with elements and factors that contribute to the whole obsession with fitting in, with getting there, with making it. We were encouraged to excel at school, to make as many friends as we could, or to be a part of as many activities and clubs as possible. Not everyone will admit this, but once upon a time in Kindergarten World, we had wished we had the same lunchbox as our seatmate Elizabeth, or that we owned a pair of shoes that looked exactly like what our super gross rich classmate Harry Campbell wore. Sometimes, being seven and clueless, we would take an accidental glance at the neighbor’s kid named Sarah McDowell and wonder (very deliberately) why she always carried with her a cute little shiny handbag while all we had was the same old backpack that aunt Debrah bought us for our third birthday.

It was stressful.

And then we grow up thinking that it will get better, but it doesn’t. Sometimes it does, for sure. But most of the time, it actually gets worse.

We are faced with expectations (lots of them, especially when you are in your 20’s). There are college applications and then, right after you’re done with college, you are faced with career expectations. Inject throughout both those scenarios the cruelty of relationship expectations and you have yourself the perfect recipe for a 20-something’s psychological and spiritual downfall.

Unfortunately for us, we do live in a material world. Most of us don’t mind it, because most of us don’t even notice it, but it’s true: all that surrounds us (and I’m talking about people who live in the city in particular) is an insistent visual reminder of what we should be doing. Every way we turn and every sight we see, we are being reminded that if we do not accomplish this or that by the time we turn x years old, we will be deemed failures. Society and that Pumpkin Spice Latte drinking office girl sitting in the corner of Starbucks will frown at us and maybe even choke upon the sight of us.

So, yes. It is stressful, I figure. But you know what else is stressful? Wanting the exact opposite. 

My whole life, I didn’t feel like someone on the outside looking in. I’ve been the exact opposite. I’ve been  inside looking out

I have always had inside of me this incompressible yearning to be elsewhere. Just… elsewhere. Anywhere but here. Something like that.

I’ve always had in me this powerful longing to escape, to break through walls, smash through roofs and fly over mountains. It’s this sort of constant itching to go on the wildest adventure of my life, of dropping everything and just going somewhere nice. Somewhere warmer, open-er, livelier. Maybe even somewhere nobody else has been. And I don’t know what exactly this inside-looking-out personality of mine has coagulated from, but I know that this has been me for the longest time that I can remember. It’s usually more difficult for most people, but determining whether or not a life of conformity was for me has been very easy. I just had to ask myself these ten super simple questions:

  1. Do I really have to have a six-digit income, compromising my time for money?
  2. Do I really need to have a triumphant coming out as the Entrepreneur magazine’s youngest tycoon in year 2018?
  3. Do I really want whatever materialistic things everyone else has?
  4. Am I gonna die if I do not marry and have kids at 25?
  5. Will it hurt my soul so bad if I decided to buy a one-way ticket to Indonesia or Thailand instead of buying the newest iPhone and the newest Jeep?
  6. Say I decided to work as a cashier at Walmart; will that really mean I have failed as a human being because I do not sit for 8-9 hours a day behind a mahogany desk on the 36th floor of Manhattan’s busiest commercial building?
  7. Would I really be happier if I owned more? If I had more? If had earned more?
  8. Does being alive mean making ends meet and making sure I pay all my bills?
  9. Do I really have the capacity to envision myself working for a corporation for the rest of my life?
  10. And, most importantly, will I ever be ready to trade all of my time and my energy for a dream that, somewhere down the road, may turn out to be not mine but someone else’s?

And the answer to all of these questions is a big, fat, poutine-devouring, cholesterol-obsessing, obese-looking NO.

At the end of the day, I refuse to obsess over society-dictated goals because I have my own mind, my own will and my own person. I do not have to trace out the edges of my life against some carefully carved out model designed by someone else. If you come to think of it, almost everyone is on to some grand master plan for the future – go to school, get a job, pay the bills, find the man, have kids (make them go through the same cycle), be happy. It is this vicious cycle where your freedom and right to a life of your own are being taken away from you without you even knowing it.

There has got to be something bigger than just schooling, or working, or buying a house and making money. There has got to be something more to life than just surviving, or financially thriving. Sometimes, I even ask myself the question, “Would I rather be rich and die not knowing who I really am, or would I rather be so-so (meaning roof on top of my head, food in my mouth three times a day, clean water in my stomach and a few good real friends and family), and die not only knowing who I am, but also die knowing that I have gotten to know the world that I once lived in, that I once breathed in?” 

This has been said before (a billion times) but I will say it again: life is fucking short. We are all here right now, but a time will come when we won’t be. We won’t be here anymore. Hell, even our planet Earth will one day collapse! The sun will explode and everything that we know right now will be non-existent. Where will your riches take you? How will your 13-million dollar condo unit in LA save you from feeling already dead even minutes before you actually die? Will you be laying in your death bed remembering all the hours you worked in the office? Or will you be laying there remembering the few moments in which you truly felt alive?

I personally would rather invest in actual life experiences rather than tangible materialistic possessions because at the end of the day, I have been through enough in life to realize that things are just things. Money is just money. When it comes down to it, life is meant to be lived and experienced (not owned and achieved). It is already there! Our lives, in front of us. This is it. The clock is ticking and we only get this one run to experience love, laughter, friendship and even crazy-ass adventures that will always keep us human.

There is a reason we do not have wires attached to us. We are not electric appliances or robots that were made to conform and follow a specific program. We are allowed to make our own goals, our own plans. There is so much out there to see, so many people to meet, so many highs and lows to go through, and so many oceans to swim in!

So, I guess, it really is time for me to act on this. It’s been 22 years. If I do not start working on my dreams now, when will I?

I am determined to live.