THEORY: Dream real, not big.

Finally being in-charge of your life is fun and liberating until one day it isn't. How and when the drastic shift happens is unclear but I just know that one day I woke up thinking "I make my decisions! Help!" from "I make my decisions! Yay!"

When I finally finished school, I had this entire five-year plan scribbled in some imaginary note pad as guide for what my next step in life is. I didn't have to actually write it down because I've been reworking the plan in my head for years that I've got it memorized. I was going to be living on my own, driving a car (doesn't even need to be brand new), working at a nice advertising agency, and going on cool trips time to time.

If you look at where I am now, I've actually achieved all of those things except for the living on my own bit. So I should be happy, right? Wrong. What my five-year plan didn't include was what would happen in the next five years and the five years after that. It also didn't account for taxes and insurance and food and phone bills and all the details that make the five-year plan a reality. I own a car but I struggle to pay for it every month. I don't even bring it all the time because the cost of gas and parking will just eat from what I would use to pay the monthly fee. I go on trips, yes, but I end up poor for the next two months. I get by by packing lunch and stocking on cookies and noodles in the office. I work at an advertising agency and it is fun and exciting and fulfilling but it isn't as fancy as I expected it to be. I don't make as much as I appear to be making. And the work demands more time and energy than I thought it would.

All the decisions I've made so far actually made my five-year plan a reality but it has also left me too poor and frustrated about what to do after the five years are over. I'm a little less than two years away from the end of my plan and I don't know how to move forward. I am afraid to make any more decisions for my own life. Look at where my decisions have taken me? I am even more afraid to make any moves as I can't correct them as easily because I'm running out of time.

What I do at this point in my life will dictate how the next phase will be. I can't dream too big and too short term. I have to dream real and plan for it.I find myself thinking of buying property for a future family, just to be sure I'm covered. I don't want to end up wanting to settle down and panic that we have nowhere to live. I find myself calculating the bills I will have to pay ten years down the line and figuring out how much I need to be making to account for all of it. Because of that, I'm thinking of ways to ensure my pay reaches X amount in X years. I don't want to be struggling month to month with an entire family having to live by noodles and cookies just to make it to the next pay day!

This is all too much and too scary for me. It's also very disappointing that I'm actually in this situation. I thought I had a game plan. I thought I was in control. I thought I was going to do better than the 20-year olds I observed when I was 12 (when I started the first drafts of the five-year plan). I am actually no better. I'm the same broke and struggling and lost person that some 12 year old is observing now. And the unfortunate truth is that in the eyes of the 12 year old, I'm living the dream. No, child. Be better than me. Any fool can dream big but it takes a better person to dream real.

STORY: What do I want?

I was listening to Alphaville's Forever Young on Spotify on the way home and it was one of those moments when a song you've heard so many times before suddenly becomes a trigger for some self reflection. When the chorus came up, I couldn't help but try and answer the question, "Do you really want live forever? Forever young?"

For the past months, I've been finding myself reflecting about mortality and what the purpose of everything is more often. It's not my birthday nor is anyone dying or dead for me to suddenly be aware of how everyone ages and eventually dies so this sudden obsession with figuring out how I feel about dying someday is weird, even for me.

But since I'm me, I entertain the thoughts anyway. I keep thinking about how it would feel to be old. What would my concerns be? What would my motivations be? What would my purpose in my family, in society, in life be? When you're 23, you don't worry about these things. You know you're needed somewhere somehow no matter how unskilled or uneducated you are. Your youth is all that matters. Your opinion is even constantly sought after. But what happens when one day you wake up a sixty year old person with no one concerned about what you thought about the latest movie, song or artist? What happens when you have nothing else to save up for? What if you work for the sake of work but no one really needs you to do it? Or what if you're sixty and you're still doing something you hate? What then? If there is still time to correct mistakes or achieve some dreams, will it still matter? Or what if you've accomplished all your dreams, can you still dream up new ones?

All these questions unanswered. And that's just the first part! Part of me wants to grow old and get life over with. I feel like I'm in one big race and sometimes when I'm tired I want to cut to the finish line already. Then all the questions above come in then I start to question what is so special about the finish line anyway. I mean, what would it feel like to suddenly not be doing what you've been doing forever to get to some place to not do what you've been doing anymore? Does that even make sense?
It's a weird and seemingly unending reflection process. But out of all of it, I actually realized one thing... you can actually fear something you want. I want to find peace after all these steps and phases and paths at the end of my life. But I'm also afraid of peace. When there's peace, there's nothing else to do! And being purposeless is scary!

I wonder if sixty year olds are feeling or have felt the same things I am feeling now. I wonder if I would feel the same when I do reach 60. I wonder if this will even matter to me when I'm 60. Whatever the case, I'm still trying to figure out if I want to reach 60. But that's going to start a whole other set of questions and I have yet a song to inspire that discussion. 'Til then.