Letters of Youth


/ 2 November 2020

Have you been floating these past few days in a world with a 2x speed up playback rate? Because I am.

I usually spend half of my time on my phone and the other half on my laptop. As I surfed the net, a similar theme among content creators became truly apparent: the promotion of full self-optimization and total productivity. The numerous advertisement of learn-how-to and be-a-something now shenanigans flooded the internet this pandemic.

Learn how to bake now! Be the boss of your own business now! Learn Japanese now! Be a content creator now!

As well as accomplishments, often from people younger than I am, popping every time in my feed. And I’m truly happy for them. Cross my heart and hope to die.

There’s nothing wrong with them and those promotions. There’s something wrong with me. Those promotions are beneficial; those accomplishments are inspiring and motivating. If I at least try to look at it that way. However, where inspiration and motivation should be, rest my restlessness and self-loathing.

It feels like no matter what I do, I’m still not doing enough. Managed to study one lesson today? Not enough, I should have studied more. Read a chapter from a book? Not enough, I should have finished it. Learned a phrase from a language I’ve been studying? Not enough, I should have been fluent by now.

With this much time, I could have done more. I should have done more, like all the other people on the internet. Everyone seems so in control of their life. All my friends appear like they were in a place where they desired to be. And I’m just stuck here, unmoved, in a position where I’ve always been.

I persecuted myself with thoughts of ‘doing more’ and ‘being more’ that I sometimes tire myself off to paralyzation. All my energy that should have been for doing something was, instead, wasted for trying to shut my thoughts off.

Everything that I do, everything that I did, seems so little that I couldn’t count it as an accomplishment. So I, once again, resort to either forcing myself to sit and work, which translates to reading a paragraph a dozen times because I couldn’t get it once, or even thrice, or staring at my laptop till the low battery notification pops up, or drowning myself in the short-lived happiness pool: Netflix series, Youtube vlogs, Facebook memes, and Twitter engagements.

However, one day, I came across this unusual and crazy Facebook post:

At that moment, I felt… nothing. It was something that I couldn’t comprehend. Something very new to me that I couldn’t grasp the first time. While everyone was preaching to aim for the sky and congratulating those who came near it, this post appreciated and acknowledged what I think is the bare minimum. Suddenly, I felt like crying.

Something heavy was unexpectedly lifted off my chest. It seems like the veil of clarity and peace was suddenly draped over my head. And my thoughts! My self-belittling thoughts that were once ear-piercing were now quiet as a mouse.

Nonetheless, those words might just be words, but I chose to let it heal and free me off my burden. Someone was proud of me, just for holding myself together. It was not because I have aced a test, won a competition, or reached a tremendous milestone. It was because I held myself together; I managed to survive yet another day.

Since you’ve also managed to reach the end of this, there’s something I want to tell you. Maybe it’s something nobody has told you yet. I am proud of how you’ve kept going even when everything seems to go against you, including your very own thoughts. Despite the silent struggles, I’m proud of how you can still manage a smile. I’m proud of how you try again– try to live again, try to love again, try to try again. I’m proud of you, and you should be too. (Cue: Pat yourself)

And if again, you found yourself struggling to fit the society’s absurd rule of living, and your very own thoughts are pressuring, face the mirror and ask yourself this: Why should you follow the standards of a capitalistic society where your worth is only based on the number of checks on your to-do list? On the number of things you’ve invented, composed, and accomplished? That society cannot even uphold itself during this pandemic. It has been nothing but a crumbling building, so save yourself and get out.