September 08, 2018

Am I doing things because I like it or because it makes me braver?

Here at Preen, we’re fully aware that adult life doesn’t always go as smoothly (and look as beautiful) as curated Instagram feeds. We all face challenges amidst all the good things. Meet Mikka Wee, a former food editor-turned-working gal in Singapore, who’s about to share all the ups and downs that come with adulting and living. Welcome to Bless This Mess!

“Our twenties are ending really soon,” I said, moments before my friend Kaye and I wiped out packets of Oreo Mooncakes and downed them with Raspberry Sprite Vodkas last Thursday night. I didn’t know why, but this fact hit me hard, and so we both lamented our step closer to the third decade. Alright, I may be overacting a bit—maybe a lot—maybe a reasonable amount, but here I am, 28 years of guts, glory, and gore fashioned into a tiny five-foot being with oversized feet and a face as round as the moon.

We wondered out loud about how things would’ve been, the could-have-beens, and what we have now. We did an inventory of achievements and things we would want to achieve. 28 feels both so old yet so young. We thought about how our mothers at 28 had children, what our dreams looked like when we were at the cusp of 20, and how the yearning of a wild and carefree life still burns within us, but with the need for a bit more stability in tow.

A few Saturdays ago, I was home alone and so, I decided to watch one of my favorite rom-coms of all time—You’ve Got Mail. And somewhere in the beginning of the movie, bookshop owner Kathleen Kelly, played by Meg Ryan, said:

“Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life—well, valuable, but small—and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven’t been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn’t it be the other way around? I don’t really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So good night, dear void.”

Perhaps that Thursday night, for the first time in years, I sent out the exact cosmic question out into the void. Am I just living this life because I like it, or is it because I haven’t been brave? Also, for the first time in years, I feel like my life has indeed become smaller, too. Friendship circles became closer and closer, and decisions have become more calculated.

It’s easy to look back at my younger self, spritely, and youth-filled, and yearn for a life filled with backpacks and beach trips, but there’s also a side of myself now that recognizes how that adrenaline has changed. It’s like the older I get, the more I prefer staying at a hotel or an Airbnb with better upkeep, as compared to a youth hostel where I’d retire in a hammock or a bunk bed in a shared room.

There are days when I still feel like I’m back to being 24—zealous and excited for ideas and plans and adventures; a bit reckless and impulsive, but with memories seared into my soul forever. I’m reaching the third decade of my life in a couple of months, and to tell you the truth, there is some sort of quiet confidence in there. A confidence knowing I can pay my own rent, my own bills; knowing I can take care of my day-to-day needs and start a family makes me feel self-assured that I am doing okay. There is a heightened sense of ownership to my decisions. My values are more grounded; decisions are easier to make. Mistakes are harder to bear, but it’s always a learning process.

There days when I wonder, what is my definition of success now? Is it to live a little braver? What does that look like? Is it measurable? This is my shout into the void as I lead my small—yet valuable, but small—life. I may have forgotten what it felt like to live big and do big, grand things. But that sparkle and energy of my youth doesn’t have to vanish. As I count the new, tiny creases forming around my eyes and the lines carved on my forehead—from laughter and late nights of challenging myself—I realized that maybe this is all I need to carry with me as I reach my thirties: A sense of wonder, a heart filled with gratitude, and a quiet determination to do more. Whenever I send a shout into the void, I, too, am not looking for an answer. It’s perhaps a reminder for me to be simply grateful to be where I am right now, to continue to hope, and perhaps, to live a little braver.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.

 

Art by Marian Hukom

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adulting, Bless This Mess, culture, life, Mikka Wee, Self-Actualization, Thirties



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