Wow. I’m on my 7th version of this now. I do this every year, one month before I turn another year older, where I look back on what I did for the last twelve months and see how’s my life going so far.
When I wrote my entry last year, I was in a place that I didn’t like. This isn’t to say my 23rd year was the absolute worst. It’s just that I felt stuck half of the time. But that’s all in the past. They really don’t matter as much. Because right now, as I’m writing this, I’m sitting in my favorite coffee shop, in one of the most magical places on earth for me.
My birthday usually falls on the end of the summer. Which means it’s annoyingly hot outside right now, and surely for the rest of May. The sky is clear today. It looks like the kind of blue that I love. And the trees in front of me are motionless. Why is it important for me to say this here, you ask? It’s because I want to remember where exactly I am as I draft this. It’s a yearly tradition.
My 23rd year started in my room. As usual, I waited for the clock to turn 12. The moment my calendar changed to May 26, I closed my eyes and prayed. I thought it was the best way to start the year. And I still do.
After I said everything that I hoped for, I consumed my favorite drink and snack and chocolate. Again, it’s a tradition. I am weird like that. After I went over through my rituals, I filmed myself for the sake of having something to remember one day. Up until this very second, I don’t know what’s my point for doing such things. I guess I’m just really crazy about turning a year older and I want it to be extra. So whatever.
My family and I woke up at around 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. because we were celebrating my birthday at the beach. I was excited but obviously tired since I only had 3 hours of sleep. I saw the first sunrise of my 23rd year came up behind mountains. My uncle was driving the car and my sister and my cousin were beside me. It was a satisfying way to start the day — or the year. I was sleepless but smiling.
We had breakfast at a fast food chain. Drove for couple of hours before we made it to the beach town. It was raining quite hard at that time and we were all down because we knew we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the beach. The resort and the view in front of it were both mind-blowing. Saying the place was Instagram worthy was an understatement. But it was raining so it was still a bummer.
An hour passed and — finally! — the clouds cleared and we started enjoying the day. God is good like that, you know. I had my yearly photoshoot. My sister and cousin — actually all of us — joined the bandwagon of taking selfies and groupshots. It was fun. It was great. I loved it.
We dipped into the pools like we owned them. There were no people around because it was a secluded resort so it felt like the entire place was ours. There were two hills in the middle of the ocean in front of us. I felt calm every time I stared at them while I rested my elbow on the edge of the pool. In that moment, I felt like my life was in a movie again — something that rarely happened.
One of my favorite parts of the day was when we spent our remaining resort credits on foods. We had so much of them that we ended up ordering different foods that could feed twenty people. My cousin and sister and I were laughing so hard just realizing how insane the situation was. As soon as we had enough of everything, we packed up and went home.
I guess I was dead tired from the running and swimming and eating and sleeplessness that I passed out on the car. Our car came to a halt and I jolted awake. I looked on my right and we were on a beach mall. Time for dinner.
We ate at this pizza store beside the mall and I thought it was a cool way to end the day. It was completely dark when we came out and the breeze of summer air was the only thing that I could smell. Spending time with my family on the most special day of my life was one of the best things that I did.
If I’m going to paint the picture of what my 23rd year looked like, it’d be like this: quite boring, but extremely successful. I didn’t travel much for the last twelve months. Actually, I didn’t travel at all. And I know you’re wondering what the heck was I thinking or was I doing in life. But here me out, okay?
I learned so much in the previous years of my life. I felt so behind because my resume was so weak and so shallow that I told myself, “Fuck it. I’mma drop my cravings and desire for travel and focus on being the best shit in my generation.” I was sick of being thought as the kid who is great but inexperienced. So I flipped the table and gambled my time. And it worked. It damn worked. Still working.
I continued to work as an accountant in the morning and built myself to be a better writer at night and weekend. I worked 7 days a week — I shit you not. But I don’t recommend this to anyone. Because just recently, I have realized that it’s mandatory that you give yourself one whole day to not do anything.
I worked really hard and aggressive and strategic. At 23, I had a book published by an inpendent publishing house in New York. It was a dream come true. I still couldn’t fully believe I did it. It was insane. I mean, at 23? That was huge. It was a hard process to go through and I spent a lot of time building my portfolio for me to get a book deal, but I freaking did it. I hustled and bled and succeeded.
Since I didn’t like the city that I was living and I felt like the company that I was working with was dead end, I revamped my resume and jumped ship. I bumped at this fast-growing company that has over a thousand of employees and so far I’m liking it. So far I’m loving the small and laid back city that I’m in. I’ve been sort of wanting to be here before. So I guess everything is kind of okay.
Before my 23rd year wrapped up, I made it to the featured writers page of Thought Catalog. This was another big deal. This was another dream come true. I feel like if I look at my life on an outer persepctive, I would say I have my life running fine right now.
I mean, I have my own apartment. Something I never had since I moved out of home 7 years ago. My day job is okay. I have a book that is being sold worldwide. And a lot of people know I’m a writer and that I write for an international digital magazine. Life at 23 was a great life on paper. I didn’t step to new places and felt magic, but I put myself in a good spot in life. I didn’t have it all, but I had some things good.
I sacrificed my time. I saved some of my money. I disciplined myself. All in the name of building my resume. And I am proud of myself for doing so.
As I enter my 24th year, I can’t give myself a guarantee that I would have worldly adventures. I’m still being careful with my actions after everything that I learned when I was 21. It’s important to me that I save money instead of impulsively spending them on travel. People don’t realize the power of money and where it can bring them, but I do.
No matter what happens to me, if I have savings, I can be anywhere else I want to be. I can start a new life somewhere. I have a safety net to fall back on. And I can afford to have an independent life.
I think the thing that I want people to learn too is the benefit of not comparing ourselves to other. It’s easy to be like, “Fuck he’s been to a dozen of places and I’m here living an uninteresting life.” But what we forget to ask ourselves is, “Do I really fucking want to have his life?” Because I can guarantee you, 98% of the time, you won’t. I think it’s important to really concentrate on our own paths and stick to our goals. We all want to achieve something. And sometimes we slow down because we allow other people to drag us with them.
I have woken up and learned how vital my 20s is when it comes to establishing myself. I know I can be something more and someone bigger. I want to stay grounded and keep following everything that I’ve learned from successful people.
In my 24th year, I want to just remain where I exactly am physically and become stronger. I might want to go back to school and pursue a masteral degree so I can add more bullets in my gun. Of course there are infinite things in this world that I have no control of. But what I’m ultimately trying to say is I won’t stop doing the right thing for me.
Yes I’ve done enough at 23, but I do recognize that I’m still young. I have an amazing and beautiful future ahead of me. With God, I know He’s guiding me to make it into the promised land. Right now, He’s giving me everything that I need. And I know that from here, I can only take one baby step at a time to get to where I am going next.