The biggest lesson of 2018

It’s still a couple more weeks until 2018 officially ends, but I’ve definitely identified this one.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is this: there is no point thinking or worrying about what other people do or think, especially if it doesn’t directly affect me.

I’m guilty of gossiping about other people and occasionally being snarky or mean. I’m not proud to admit it. It’s one of the things about myself that I would like to change. It usually starts from a place of “I need to unload my feelings about X” or “I need to figure out how to deal with Y”. But it’s so easy to go from there and have a full on gossip session.

Last year, a friend helped me realise that it was taking up a lot of my energy and this year I realised that I did have a choice in what I thought about. (Yes — it took a year to really sink in.)

I’m not saying I’m not going to care about my friends’ lives. I still love talking to them about their lives and vice versa. Rather, I’m no longer going to think about them any longer than I have to. There’s no point in worrying or ruminating about other people — I’ve got my own life to live. (Especially if they’re not truly friends in the real sense of the word. Why should I worry myself with what they’re up to?)

This is also linked with my resolution to stalk people less (haha!). I realised I couldn’t be bothered looking up other people’s lives anymore. “They have nothing to teach me,” I remember thinking. There’s no real point in picking apart someone else’s life. There’s no need to satisfy pointless curiosities.

Life goes on, part two

Recently, I found out that a friend of mine from uni had passed away. I have to admit, I didn’t stay in touch with her after I graduated. We were connected on Facebook but… well… I don’t really use Facebook.

I’m still in a bit of shock and disbelief over what happened. Living far away, it’s easy to not have to believe it. After all, we hadn’t spoken in years. It’s not like I was in frequent contact with her and she was suddenly gone. In some aspects, she had already been absent from my life for a while, and one could argue that this, from my daily perspective at least, wasn’t much of a difference. But that isn’t true… Even if I hadn’t been in touch, now there is no chance of it ever happening, and that makes the difference…

I can’t help but remember the times we spent together. We were in the same political party in uni. During campaign season, we would spend long hours after classes. Rehearsing and planning. Eating and talking and laughing. She helped us out after we got elected. I remember talking about ghosts and “third eyes”. I remember her tarot cards. She believed I had psychic abilities that I could tap into if I wanted. I believed in all of it back then — I don’t anymore, now — but it still makes me smile, thinking about those days.

Funnily enough, I’d actually talked about her recently, before she passed. I talked about she had eaten improperly-cooked meat at the food stalls near uni and had contracted hepatitis. “She turned bright yellow!” I’d said. “Like highlighter yellow! And apparently she had been more yellow, and had already gotten better at that point!”

It hurts to think that she is no longer living and breathing on this earth. That this person, that I had spent a part of my life with, was gone.

(I guess that’s one of the reasons why I’ve been a bit melancholic these past few posts. It doesn’t help that it’s also December so I’m in a “where has the year gone?!” mood.)

Life goes on

A few weeks ago, I noticed that the family in one of the apartments opposite mine had moved out.

When I moved in, the building opposite me was still under construction. I remember watching with interest as it was finally completed, then as people started trickling in.

From my little balcony, I observed people’s movements as they went through their lives — hanging up their washing, moving around their living rooms, watering their plants. To be honest, not a lot of people spent time on their balconies — I guess everyone prefers to be indoors nowadays — so when someone did hang out the same time I was out there, relaxing, I always took special interest.

In one of the top floors was that family — a couple with their small child. I remember when I first noticed them — he would’ve probably just turned one, a little boy dressed only in a nappy, taking a few unsteady steps as mum hung up clothes to dry. Sometimes they had friends over, also with small children. But usually it was just the three of them. Sometimes they would enjoy beers in the afternoon sun, chatting while their son played with his toys.

One time I crossed paths with the father on the street and almost said hi, that’s how familiar they felt.

When I sold my single bed a few years ago, the man who bought it brought along his son, who would be getting my bed. After letting his little man inspect the bed and give it his approval, we took a breather on the balcony. “Look,” the man said, pointing at the opposite apartment balcony, where my unknown neighbours were relaxing, “there’s a little dude.” And with the enthusiasm that children get when they observe other small fry, the son started waving madly and yelled, “Hi little duuuuuude!”

My unknown neighbour growing older has always been my marker of how much time has passed since I first moved in. I remember one day, with a start, that the “baby” was a toddler now.

Then, a few weeks ago, I noticed that their balcony had been seeming a bit empty. I observed the dad enjoying a solitary beer, staring out at the view, seemingly lost in his thoughts. His son strode in — with even, measured steps — he’d outgrown the quick, hurried steps of a toddler who is still making the most of the newfound skill of walking by running in short bursts.

Then they left the balcony.

Then they were gone.

On getting older

On one hand, I do know that every day, everyone’s getting a leetle bit older 😉

However, two things happened lately that made me think about getting older. The first is that I had a birthday. (And yes, I know that technically I didn’t turn a year older then — I turned a day older, which happened to be exactly N years to the day I was born.)

The second is that I renewed my driver licence and realised that I’ll be 40 the next time it’s due. Forty!!!

The thing is, I don’t feel as old as I thought I would at this age.

Energy-wise, I feel around the same as I did when I was in my twenties (unless there’s been a gradual decline that I haven’t noticed). I can still fit into the same clothes and I’m just as active (if not more) than I was a decade ago. But I can tell that my body has started to shift.

I have to take a closer look at my diet, otherwise I seem to gain weight more easily. I can’t take as much alcohol as I used to (though I’m not sure if because I started cutting down on alcohol years ago). I get up earlier now, and can no longer stay awake late at night.

I don’t have any white hairs yet (I’ve told S to be brutally honest if/when he spots any). But I’ve got more wrinkles round my face and spots on my skin.

Mentally, I’m in a much better place than I was 10 years ago. I’m less skittish, less seeking of other people’s approval. I’m more accepting of myself and less accepting of BS from other people. I am happier to spend time myself or in quiet moments. I’m no longer in the rush of always needing to find something to do.

All in all, I’m pretty happy where I am.

But, but, whenever I see my age presented to me, I sometimes have a bit of a shock. Am I really this old?

Obviously, most of my friends are in their 30s now too, and I see some of them posting about how they’ve fully embraced being in their 30s. I’m not going to lie, I’m not quite there yet! I like where I am, but I can’t seem to reconcile it with the number that is my age. The truth is, I usually forget my age and I’m happily plodding along. But when I’m confronted with it, such as filling an online form, I think, whoa, really?!

One of these days, I’ll get over this age thing. 😛