If there is one ultimate fact of life that sinks in deeper and deeper into my stubborn cranium every day, it’s this: You are not getting any younger. I admit, being 24 is still widely considered “young” in most societies, but something about reaching my mid-twenties is causing a tad bit of internal panic inside of me.
There have multiple occasions where I was slapped with the reality that my body is changing. It simply does not bounce back the way it used to. I recall taking a weekend trip to Santa Catalina Island a few weeks ago and feeling like I was hit by a truck when I returned. Since when did I get exhausted so quickly?
Upon accepting this realization and the fact that there is nothing I can do about aging, I asked myself the question, “So what are you going to do about it?”
I recently came across a quote Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the New York Times Best-Selling book Eat Pray Love, that I found incredibly profound:
“There’s a part of me which has always wanted to hear a man say, “Let me take care of you forever,” and I have never heard it spoken before. Over the last few years, I’d given up looking for that person, and learned how to say this heartening sentence to myself, especially in times of fear.”
So what I am going to do about it? I’m going to take care of myself from now on: emotionally, physically, mentally…
There are two sides of me: the free-spirit risk taker and the obsessive control freak.
On one hand, the first Adrielle has grown a reputation for pulling spontaneous mischiefs with whoever she’s with. From illegally hiking up to the Hollywood sign to spontaneously getting a tattoo after a Sunday brunch along the Venice Boardwalk, she is a person who craves adventure, who jumps before she thinks, determined to have those horses run through her veins, no matter how momentarily they may stay.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, the other Adrielle always wants to be in the know. She’s the one who hates surprises, the one who can’t stand being in the dark because she’s terrified of what might happen once she’s left face-to-face with uncertainty and the unknown. The one who rarely lives in the present because she’s too caught up either dwelling in the past or daydreaming about the future. The one who creates timelines and checklists on how she’s going to live her so-called “life.” The one who over-analyzes every single detail and overthinks herself to exhaustion in order to protect herself from a potential ambush.
You see, there are two Adrielles, the fearless girl who lives and the cautious one who exists. And truth is, neither of them has it all together.
When I was younger, I thought I’d have everything going for me by the time I was the age I am now. But the deal with life is, it’s unpredictable, always changing, filled with unexpected drops and loops. And within my brief 23 years of being in this beautiful world, I realized that most people live life within their comfort zone and hardly go near the edge. Why? Because it’s when we walk closer to the edge that life gets frighteningly chaotic and downright overwhelming. Nothing is more terrifying than knowing how quickly everything can fall to crap.
And it is at this stage, when life becomes an uncontrollable whirlwind, that I start retreating, where I sprint back to my unscathed shell instead of pushing through the discomfort and pain. It is at this level where I manage to convince myself to believe that staying within the lines of my comfort zone will somehow grant me contentment. That having a body that has never been chipped or a heart that has never been broken will earn me the most satisfaction by the time I’m six feet under, nailed shut inside that coffin. That not having a scarred soul will somehow catapult me on top of the leader board once my final breath escapes my lungs.
What I didn’t realize is that on a long enough timeline, the survival rate does drop to zero. What I didn’t realize is that none of us will make it out here alive, so I might as well make the most of it, whether I’m in gutter or on top of the world. What I didn’t realize is that those nights where I cried myself sleep, where I felt most vulnerable and raw because of the blows that life throws at me are reason enough for a celebration because I didn’t allow the fear of getting burned and hurt override the fear of living, the fear of loving.
What I didn’t realize is that every shed tear is another battle scar. That every letdown is an opportunity to turn over a new leaf. That every mistake is a lesson learned. That every hurdle I overcame will only give me additional strength for the next one.
From this day forward, I promise to start embracing the mess, to welcome the chaos. It’s time to free myself from the obsession of always wanting control, to let go, to let the ball cross over to the other side of the court. It’s time to ride the wave, to go with the flow, to let the chips fall where they may and live life the way it was meant to be: out loud.