Leaving my twenties behind took a while to sink in. It bothered me so much that I was turning 30 and still have nothing to show for. I have not graduated from my master’s degree, I didn’t have the perfect job, I didn’t have enough savings, I wasn’t married, and I certainly didn’t have kids. All these insecurities nearly took the best of me, as I compared myself to my peers who have traveled to Europe, earned their master’s degree and continued to PhD, gotten married, and had their kids. As if those insecurities weren’t enough, I had problems with my personal relationships as well. Typically, I prepare myself for a few months, saying I’m 24 when I was still 23. This time, however, it took my two years or so to finally accept the fact that I’m turning 30, and there wasn’t anything I can do about it. My depression began when I turned 27, and it peaked in the next two years. My demons nearly got the best of me, and the people closest to me knew about that. That’s a different story altogether.
It was only last year when I decided to do something about my mental illness. I paid my credit card bills, I enrolled in a gym, and I focused on myself. I accepted some harsh realities of life:
- Two lost people can never make a relationship work. As much as it was difficult to understand then, I knew there were reasons why things happened that way. It was easier to accept once I owned up to my own mistakes. It also helped that I really fought for the relationship, so I knew I did what I could to save it. For the first time in my life, I begged someone to take me back, but she didn’t. And I was thankful for that because it opened my eyes to the reality that I was lost, too, and I needed to find myself just as she did.
- Loving yourself can be selfish, but sometimes selfishness is a good thing if it means you find peace in what you do. For as long as you do not hurt anyone or step on someone’s toes, you should be fine.
- You don’t owe anyone an explanation for the things you do – again, for as long as you’re not hurting anyone. I know some people throw shade at me when they ask whether or not I’m in MNL during certain dates because they know I’m always away. Who gives a shit about why I spend my money traveling anyway? It’s the same thing when you decide to stay home or decline invitations from friends or acquaintances. There are just days when you want to spend time alone.
- On that note, the most important lesson I learned is that it’s okay to be alone. Being alone doesn’t mean you’re lonely. There is happiness in solitude. If there’s anything I can take from all these, it’s that finding happiness in solitude is one of the most important steps in healing yourself. Oftentimes, we pity ourselves for going to the mall alone, eating alone for fear of being judged, or hell, watching moving alone. But all these, I have sincerely enjoyed since I started going out of my comfort zone. Sure, it takes a while to feel a sense of normalcy when you go out alone, but eventually, it does feel good, and you will find yourself preferring some alone time than hang out with friends.
- Finally, finding happiness in solitude goes both ways. Don’t take it personally if other friends do the same. Understand that, as adults, people have different ways of coping with their problems. This means that they, too, can decline your invitation because they would rather be alone.
My celebration for my 31st birthday was, I must admit, out of pain and frustration. I had big plans for my 30th birthday last year because I saw it as another milestone in life – the big 3-0. But, circumstances did not let me do that. So as soon as I saw a seat sale, I immediately booked myself a ticket to Kuala Lumpur because I have been wanting to go to Penang for a long time now. I also knew that I didn’t want to spend my birthday here. I just wanted to be away from everyone.
As the days approached, and people have been commenting about my birthday, my only response was, “Oh, I won’t be here.” Then, once they found out that I will be traveling alone, the immediate response was, “Are you sure?” A close friend even asked me, “Are you okay?” My only response was, “Yes, I’m perfectly fine.” There’s absolutely no other way I would rather have spend my birthday. It took me four years to finally find inner peace and happiness, so I guess, four more years isn’t such a bad thing after all.