To live alone and make the most of my time require disciplines.
I am writing from a small room in New York City. I have an hour to write for myself in future, who is eagerly waiting to read about her younger self. To my disappointment, I don’t know what to write, as I am not objectively aware of what I am doing right now with my life. And as clichéd as these words may sound, I will have to repeat them – strong and loud – because it is the truth, so as to fully absorb that my transient life — the life that I subconsciously regard as special and meaningful — is also as mundane as the lives of others. We are all lost, sometimes lonely, doubtful and even ignorant.
“I am a lost in the world of adulthood – a word that I cannot define.”
I have no idea how many times I have thought so this year — my second year in college. Whenever I have problems, from feeling ridiculously unaccomplished during my internship to breaking down during subway commutes because I thought the stress I was dealing with isn’t worth it. From pursuing an aspiring professional life that involves contrived networking and pressure to put on a certain image, to feeling deep down inside that I want to spend time doing something different, like film photography, coding, cooking exotic cuisines, immersing in literature and making websites. From proudly sharing with my friends about my aspirations, to silently questioning, “Am I doing it right? Am I really helping anyone with these charity activities? Am I seeing the big picture? Maybe, I should be pursuing a career that promises a better financial life that will enable me to do more meaningful things in future.” From facing insecurity about my non-existent romantic relationships, to throwing “whys” (instead of “hows”) at everything that is expected of me (dating, putting on makeup, dressing nicely). And, this is the most scary thing, from watching certain people pass away to half-acknowledging that my grandparents, my parents, my relatives would one day leave me alone in the world.
Whenever encountering these problems, I dust them off with that cliched thought,”I am just confused. This is perfectly normal.” I remember something my friend said, “You are 20. You should complicate everything in life.” And that’s it.
Yet, I don’t know if I am being confused or reckless. I don’t know if I am using confusion as an excuse to make less practical choices, choose easier thoughts, act with fear and lengthen my adolescence (all of those constitutes recklessness). I also don’t know if these questions hit me, because I think too much, or simply, because I don’t have enough knowledge to answer them myself.
See, I think, I am an idiot.
I don’t know if these questions hit me, because I think too much, or simply, because I don’t have enough knowledge to answer them myself.
However, I am learning to slow down. New York opens new venues for me to discover myself. I embrace them. But being open to opportunities also means being able to filter through all of these choices. It means resisting, rejecting, letting things go. It means being receptive to these life invitations, but critical and composed enough to think, “Hold on. I need to think about that again.” It means being disciplined and hard on myself, so that I don’t let go of my initial objectives.
It means resisting, rejecting, and letting things go.
(these are personal goals to ensure that I care enough for myself)
- I will learn how to take portrait photos with a film camera and will have at least one meaningful photography project. I am waiting for 8 rolls of film to be delivered. Recently, my friend took a photo of me with her old film camera. As opposed to a digital camera which allows us to take many photos, a film camera only allows a limited number of shots. And that limitation makes our conversation sort of more memorable. “Nhi, can I take a photo of you? I have started to take photos of people in my life. This is my mom’s old camera,” she said, taking a Nikon film camera out of her white bag. “Sure,” I said, smiling. “But should I change anything? Like does my hair look fine?” I asked. “No. Beautiful. Don’t ever change anything,” she said. Several months later, she developed the photo and sent it to me. The grainy texture, vibrant color and my smile, make me happy every time that I look at the photo. I think the photo captures my personality well. And I want to do the same thing to people who I will take photos of. Make them love how they look and the qualities they radiate.
- I will read 52 books (and watch 30 challenging movies). I have set the goal on Goodreads and updated my Kindle. This is a must. And it is fun. Why not.
- I will try food from at least 10 countries and learn how to make 20 new types of food that I have never heard of. As I am living with housemates who are so ridiculously generous that they will force me to eat their food, I am suddenly addicted to this idea that I can discover about new lands through food. Yes!
- I have to at least think about traveling and planning. I am not forcing myself to travel if I cannot afford to do so. But it is important to try and do some researches before giving up.