XX

It rained this morning on my way home from the university. It drummed loudly on the roof of the shuttle I was riding and it whipped against the windshield with surprising ferocity.

I was reminded of past rainy birthdays in Bicol. December days were wet, December nights achingly cold. I used to dislike it as a child. The foreboding nimbus clouds rained on my parade. Birthdays should be spent basking in sunrays and eating cake. I’ve never been fond of the rainy season, but as I rode that shuttle earlier today, it reminded me of how I used to be.

Perhaps this is the nostalgia of a 20-year old. I have made it to the second decade of my life: still whole despite everything, amply loved and cared for, and perhaps still a little bit sheltered. There is an ache in me for such a miracle. So many things could have gone wrong along the way, and yet, here I am: blessedly intact.

Still, I wonder, in that coming-of-age way, what I have accomplished in my small life.

A blink or two. Fingers poised over the keyboard. Deep breaths.

Maybe it’s high time I stop counting everything I’ve done in this world and start paying attention to what I can still do for the future.

As Tadashi Hamada advised to his brother Hiro*,

“I’m shaking things up! You need to look at it from a different angle.”

The thing is, when you’re 20, you no longer have the excuse of being a teen (although it’s just a technicality) to cover up for your mishaps, your mistakes, or your misadventures. It’s not like that’s even a valid excuse to begin with, honestly. As young adults, we are given elbowroom to discover our ways in this world and we are allowed to be wrong, to fail, to err, because we don’t know any better yet.

But the truth remains: it is time to grow up. It has been for a long time.

It is time to handle my emotions more maturely without using hormones for a lousy excuse. It is time to steer in the direction of independence, because that is the goal, ultimately. To graduate from being the supported to being the supporter. It is time to save up for the future. (Med school is no joke. Tuition fees are astronomical.) It is time to manage time more wisely. It is time to wake up earlier. It is time to be responsible for my actions, because even the smallest things we do create invisible ripples. Like the butterfly effect, tiny fluttering wings that may affect hurricanes, our actions can influence others.

It is time to think less of ourselves and more of others. Sure, that sounds very altruistic and idealistic, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Indeed, we should strive for it.

Fair warning: don’t get carried away. Change does not happen overnight. Take it slow, or you run the risk of overwhelming yourself. (As I do to myself a lot. Sigh.)

***

40.
40.

I owe my 2 decades of existence to the light of my life, my mother: my twin sister, my friend. Happy birthday to you as well. God gave so much meaning to my birthdays because I get to share mine with yours. I love you, I love you, I love you. I will do my best to become a better woman. You teach me how to dream, Mommy. I will always be your child.

As cliché as it may sound, I wish for more memories to carry with me as I go through my haphazard journey in this life. And to everyone who has been with me so far: thank you for making me. And to those who have left: thank you for marking me. I wish I could put into words the immutable gratitude in my heart.

20.
20.

There is so much in me that I want to share.

*Big Hero 6 (2014) is my favorite Marvel film of the year. My apologies to the Guardians of the Galaxy, to Stever Rogers, and to Peter Parker.

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