Eighteen. To be honest, I still am unable to wrap my head around the significance of this number. It seemed like just a breath ago when my lungs were desperately grasping for air the night before my English ‘O’ Level examination, and before I know it, I am catapulted right out of the secondary school system and am strapped firmly on a rollercoaster heading full force towards university.
Eighteen. I guess that is what eighteen feels like.
Literally, my clothes start to wrap taut around my shoulders. Clearly, the remaining trails of puberty are still littered across my face in the forms of conspicuous blemishes and acne scars (mind you, I did not sign up for this part of the Growing Up programme). Perhaps, this is a metaphor of growth: the time we begin to feel awkwardly discomfited in our own skin, striving to slowly wrench out of this shell that is obviously becoming way too small for us. A sign of maturity? More like ungrateful, ungainly dancing.
This clumsy twirling and whirling, however, does not necessarily translate into an act of collective humiliation pinned to the oddities of growing up. Rather – call me an idealist if you may but – what if this agony in growth is a microcosm of beauty?
Truth is, at eighteen, I lie a lot. The school asks if studying overseas is really my dream; my parents want me to be no less than a hundred percent sure of the course of my choice. I reply them with a resounding “Yes!” Truth is, I do not know. Weirdly, I am more frightened of the prospect of them finding out the Truth than I am terrified of my own internal shattered career compass.
What do I do now?
What is the point of burning midnight oils, working towards a non-existent goal? What is going to be left of me, should I continue on with this seemingly lethargic drive?
What do I do now?
The answer, ironically, lies in time. Only time will tell. Until then, it is okay to feel this way, to be this way, to live this way. Until then, withholding the Truth does not make me a criminal, strolling aimlessly alongside the vicious cycle of life does not make me lost. Until then, I am simply on my way.
What fundamentally matters, is choice. The choice of living, loving and laughing, the choice of allowing yourself to live, love and laugh, the choice of painting the walls of the time you are confined to the brightest golden hues. Go to school, not because you are sprinting across boundless plains only to arrive at a piece of barren, parched land; go to school because you are intrigued by the endless possibilities of this earth, as you surprise yourself with the expanse of knowledge you are determined to accept. Go out and realise how, as you grow, the whole world moves with you, and the choices you make can either shatter the ground beneath you, or launch you into a space filled with bountiful opportunities.
The conception of choice is that simple: choosing to tell yourself that maybe, just maybe, awkward dancing is not that bad after all. It is only through making both good and bad choices, that we flourish.
On hindsight, I may have twirled and whirled a little too much, almost enough to make me dizzy; but at least now I know, that I may well be on my way to perfecting the pirouette.
Eighteen. I guess that is what eighteen is suppose to feel like.