20 seemed to be a monumental thing
Written in early 2020

20 seemed to be a monumental thing months ago. But, upon arriving at the age, I waved it off. People were dying. I’d be silly to think my transformative change would tap me on the shoulder in the midst of a crisis. I’m sure the underlying spiritual powers residing in this world had more important things.

The night of my birthday, I felt inclined to speak to someone I had strictly avoided speaking to for a good 10% of my life. Call it isolation desperation, but I wouldn’t agree. I had my 6 feet apart birthday party in a park with two friends — I was good. Circumstances aside, that was my ideal celebration anyways, give or take. I live alone, I’m no stranger to being alone, and yet there I was, on the phone at 11 pm: a child lost with purpose in a city so large that everything looked the same. Some kind of mission.

And yet this inclination was so inadvertent, that I barely acknowledged betraying the two years of solidarity that I had committed to my own personal movement. I was a vegan at a steakhouse, and I felt like I had just ordered the entire menu. Fork and knife in hand, plates of cognitive dissonance deluded my sense of well-being.

The phone call went as phone calls do at hours like these. You talk, but you don’t really listen, you just think of what you need to say next. You’re more important than the world at that moment, because who else in their right mind would speak to you in a situation like that, unless they loved you?

Yet love is unconvincing. You love me for who I allow you to think I am, and not who I need to become. Clones of ourselves populate this world; seven billion people never sounded so fake when I, myself, have been at least seven different versions in the same body. But when we spoke, I couldn’t even find one of them. Infuriating, like when you try to pull someone out of the rubble, but your grip keeps slipping. So I fell silent many times on multiple occasions, and you hummed to fill the space.

You told me everything you had become, and I felt like I had just turned 20 alone. I had ditched the me that had left you, and maybe that was my identity. Now, I didn’t know who I was.

Sometimes we overlook just how exponential change can be. Two years feels like ten in a world where the acceleration of things is, itself, accelerating. At 20, I feel like I should be doing more. Yet I am so worried wondering how to start this journey, that I refuse to begin. I read a lot more, but I am afraid to write. I study harder, then I ask for an extension on my exams. I cook healthier, then I starve myself. In fearing my potential, I ground it.

Not sure what led me to pick up the phone that night, but I’m glad I did. Energy is not created, nor destroyed, simply transformed: If I can’t hate you anymore, then maybe I can finally see myself.

In this time of standstill, I would like to meet my fears, shake their hands. I turned 20 in a room full of strangers. I might have not found them if I wasn’t alone.

“He knew that any given thing on the face of the earth could reveal the history of all things. One could open a book to any page, or look at a person’s hand; one could turn a card, or watch the flight of the birds…whatever the thing observed, one could find a connection with his experience of the moment. Actually, it wasn’t that those things, in themselves, revealed anything at all; it was just that people, looking at what was occurring around them, could find a means of penetration to the Soul of the World.”

— Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist