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이루마 (Yiruma) – 너의 마음 속엔 강이 흐른다 (River Flows In You)

I woke up to a text. It was Andrew’s mom. Andrew, the third grade boy I tutored for awhile, the boy who looked up to me, the boy who told me how he wanted to be like me when he grew up. He misses you, she said. He misses me. Almost two years after our last goodbyes, he still talked about me, woke up wondering what I was up to, looked forward to the next time we’ll meet.
Someone misses me.
Electric bills, gas bills, water bills, internet bills, landlord emails, insurance company calls, and potential roommate interviews; who knew the theme song of adulthood would be elevator music and prerecorded please-hold’s over the phone on my way to work? I did it, I was finally back in Boston, in a place I could call my own, lying face down on the air mattress that wasn’t even mine. I finally paid off my first set of bills, albeit a week late, and I felt like I could breath once again.

Moving out into my own place meant having that space I could have just for myself, but there was so much more to it. Days felt like months and months felt like weeks as I trod that fine line between loneliness and aloneness. The world still moved at the slow pace of one day per day, but little by little, on every day’s end, I left behind of piece of that self-imposed criticism and burden I have put on myself over the past year. I no longer felt trapped, not by my surroundings nor by myself. I began to be more like “myself”, or rather something I have never been before. I soon found myself looking for help, talking to those around me, and sharing my own thoughts and emotions. I opened up to my coworker about my struggles and had conversations on topics I normally would only babble on about on this blog: family, friends, life, and love. And her response was always along the lines of “yea”, “interesting”, or “same”, but there was something to her nonchalance that made everything seem so meaningless… in a good way. It gave me comfort and it gave me hope, and as I said last time, it pushed me towards finding a purpose in my life.

When I was 18, 25 seemed old. When I was 21, 25 seemed like an adult. Now at the age of 25, I feel like I’m still too young. There’s so much I haven’t done and so much I want to do. All my life, I felt the need to be different, but not too different, to be unique, but not too unique, to be weird, but not too weird. Well to be quite honest, even being called too weird felt good. But none of that shit mattered when I was left all alone. I had no one left to impress. I wrote down some things I’ve always wanted to try, even the ones I’ve previously shunned. I was sick of keeping up with a character, so I started to do whatever I felt like doing.

To start with, I dyed my hair:

Cooked more.

Tried baking bread.

Learned new skills.

Got a cat.

Traveled across the country.

And I even tried out dancing.
(That’s me in the lab coat)

And with each journey, whether I ended up liking it or not, I learned a bit more about myself. I learned of my own values, who I was, and who I wanted to be. I once again had goals and slowly made steps into becoming someone I could feel comfortable being. I learned how regret is inevitable, and that accepting defeat, accepting that I was once wrong, and accepting that I can become better is just a part of life. I learned that life isn’t about being happier than others; it’s about being happy, period. And finally, I learned that I’m not alone, and neither are you.

(This is your cue to play the song before you read on)
For the past few years, immediately following my graduation, I entered a phase which I can now call as depression (and I use that word with caution). I started each day wishing for its end, and only games or alcohol seem to stop me from beating myself down even further. I was jealous of anyone who could smile, and hated myself for being so petty. I always considered myself a nihilist, believing life was pointless, but for the first time, living itself felt pointless. As I laid flat on the floor, my heart racing faster than I could keep up with, I thought “what if this is it?” while she, with all the good intentions asked me, “what if this is it?” All I could see was the end while she saw a future.

As I swayed in and out of consciousness, I remembered that time in third grade when I cut myself in the leg. I jumped onto my friend’s back, onto his backpack, as an open pair of scissors dug deep into my right upper thigh. I started bleeding, but I hid it. I hid it from my friends and I hid it from my teachers. And as soon as I got back home, I took off my jeans, got on my knees, and scrubbed, scrubbed, and scrubbed until the foamy red turned white. I still have that scar, a scar no one else has seen. I don’t know why I couldn’t tell anyone else. I just couldn’t.

And it took me a bit too long to learn how to share that pain. I didn’t want to show anyone that I was weak, especially to those near me. It hurt to admit that I was struggling, and it felt like I had to be perfect for anyone to like me, or for them to be not disappointment in me. I had to be the person they wanted me to be. Each day passed by like any other: work, game, drink, sleep, work, game, drink, sleep, and the little vent I got was by driving up to Boston for a weekend or writing it all off on this blog, but even that was taken away when those I wanted to rely on the most started to say “that’s so not you” or “why are you so sappy?”
But I’ve changed. Some thing, some thought inside me has changed. Little by little, day by day, I’ve changed.

For the first time since 9th grade, my Myers–Briggs type went from INTJ to INTP, from “Judging” to “Perceiving”, from detailed plans and deadlines to spontaneity and surprises. And it really does go beyond just that one letter difference. As I sit here three years after my college graduation, I can finally look back and crack a smile. I think it’ll always be true that no matter where we are in our lives, if we were to look two three years back on ourselves, we’d feel like we were so naive and so stupid. So young. And it’s no different for me this time around. I’ve learned invaluable lessons I’ll never forget: people matter, people who care about you matter, and even if it feels like nobody cares, you matter to you.

Now all I wish is that two years later, I’ll look back on this and say “How naive. How stupid. How young”, all with a smile on my face.



Michael Administrator

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L. K. Wijaya
L. K. Wijaya

This is so worth the wait, Michael. I wish the best for you, and thank you so much for sharing this writing means so much probably more than you think. Cheers.


So when’s our dinner


just found your blog today I have to say, ever felt that the universe is playing with you by connecting you with connecting you to the right place at the right Time? That’s what I felt when I was browsing your page and I have to say that I’m glad that this exists in my life, especially at this moment when I just recently and gladly escaped from a destitute state of isolation.
Great read btw and I look forward for more entries in the future.

An aspiring 20 year old college student.