Alexa, play “Ain’t it Fun” by Paramore.
Months ago, one TikTok trend blew up on our FYPs: A series of children’s snaps asking their old selves how they turned out to be. While that prompt has taken our TLs by storm, I realized how different I have become today. Not to mention the failed dreams I glued onto my vision board when I was a teen.
Speaking of teenage years, we’ve long been hardwired to the mindset that fun actually starts when you reach 18. I mean, why wouldn’t we be, especially if that’s what coming of age movies would tell us? Pair it with the fact that at that age, we finally become entitled to do things we’ve all been dying to try. The “bata ka pa, hindi pa puwede” curse starts to wear out.
But, as we walk through this era, the word “fun” becomes tricky in our own eyes. We get slapped with the hard truth that the young adulthood phase isn’t all about doing chaotic or—quoting those 2013 Tumblr posts—YOLO shenanigans.
Truth be told, young adulthood is a stage where real character development hits you. A phase where you’ll realize passion alone is not enough to live the dream. Young adulthood life is an endless loop of being thrown into the water; finding out who you’ll become even before your much-awaited graduation. Spoiler alert: There is no reset button.
It’s been four years since I turned eighteen. It hasn’t been too long, but it’s enough to say that the time has taken the wheel. Hopping on the trend, here’s an open letter introducing my present self to 18-year-old me.
Dear 18-year-old self,
You’ve never been prouder than today
I’m grateful I met tons of amazing people because of your energetic character. Remember the times you would teleport from one classroom to another to meet your friends? Breaking news: You’re an introvert now.
Long ago, the internet ate you up and made you completely naive to its perils. Now, you even delete your Instagram Stories whenever you feel like you’re “oversharing.”
Ever since the pandemic came, you had no choice but to isolate yourself. You never imagined that twist, but you found an unthinkable joy in learning things on your own while maintaining relationships. Another surprise? Social media breaks have gotten into your habit. Long ago, the internet ate you up and made you completely naive to its perils. Now, you even delete your Instagram Stories whenever you feel like you’re “oversharing.”
Here’s a silver lining, though: Congratulations on graduating college, as well as accomplishing its sequel. You know, lining up alone to get government IDs, doing bigger errands, and, most importantly, braving that job interview. Even if we have a different timeline from others, the YA life remains a universal experience because we all have to step out of our comfort zones, whether we’re ready or not.
And that includes getting out of your bed. Sometimes, daily tasks like that would feel like a huge feat. But don’t fret, adjusting to this phase is totally okay and valid.
You were so excited to go to college. Unfortunately, you didn’t end up with your dream degree
I know you’ve always wanted to use the arts to tell stories. So, choosing an undergraduate degree was a no-brainer for you—of course it would be fine arts. But as you were one step closer to enrolling, your dream program unexpectedly became unavailable in the blink of an eye. At that time, most universities had already closed their doors for applications, and it had been two months since the classes started. NGL, swallowing that first harsh dose of college was heartbreaking. Not to mention the pressure and opinions from the people around you, too. So there you were, walking towards the path of mass communication instead.
“Sometimes, we do not land on the path we wish to take. Instead, we accept opportunities based on our means and what is offered to us, even if it’s against our will.”
Given the unfortunate experience you had was just one proof of the many struggles students face upon stepping college. Sometimes, we do not land on the path we wish to take. Instead, we accept opportunities based on our means and what is offered to us, even if it’s against our will.
To college hopefuls, family pressure, the fear of being left out, and financial difficulties remain hindrances. And if you’re looking for a sign: Go ahead, hit that scholarship application. Besides granting a chance to continue one’s education, it also offers a bigger understanding on the value of giving back.
Although it’s hard to absorb, you need to be constantly reminded that college isn’t a race, too. We’re all bound to the same finish line so it will never be too late to get your diploma. And if you’re not in your dream school, remember that skills and experiences will weigh more than anything else.
You’ve finally cast your first vote
Remember, political engagement and civic participation are crucial aspects not only of your young adulthood, but of everyone else’s as well.
Though it took you four years after turning 18 to finally accomplish your first ballot, I want to thank you for finally exercising your right to vote. Remember, political engagement and civic participation are crucial aspects not only of your young adulthood, but of everyone else’s as well. It develops a sense of purpose, initiative, and above all, social consciousness. As someone who was once a victim of false information, you know how important it is to assess the political figures and other public personalities you decide to stan, read verified news daily, and be a responsible citizen.
You found a philosophical perspective in coming of age films
All this time, coming of age films have served as your teleportation machine, allowing you to fantasize about who you’ll become in the next few years. Shoutout to your favorite movie “13 Going on 30,” because just like Jenna Rink, you now work in publishing.
Shoutout to your favorite movie “13 Going on 30,” because just like Jenna Rink, you now work in publishing.
What makes coming of age flicks stand out among others is how they teach us lessons on relationships and growth. Being a young adult, movies amplifying character development are as important as ever, tackling the nitty-gritty of adulthood, hit-or-miss opportunities, romantic excitements, and all our exhilarating firsts. Whether we’re watching them for the nth time or experiencing the story for the first time, they never fail to offer us a unique perspective on reality.
And lastly, I’m proud of your personal growth
Let’s face it: We’ve all been through naive, angsty, and flawed stages in our lives. It’s time to admit that life isn’t all butterflies. I know how much you regret all the mistakes you’ve made, but, again, there is no undo button. Today, you gradually learn to accept your shortcomings and correct the mistakes, doing your share of unlearning along with other folks in the midst of growing up.
So here’s a reminder to cut yourself some slack, too. Back then, you drowned yourself in painful words like, “Nagkamali ka, kaya deserve mo lahat ng kamalasan” (You made a mistake, so you deserve all the misfortune). Don’t do that again. It’s not helping.
At last, forgive yourself. It doesn’t mean tolerance, but rather opening the gate for easier self-acceptance.
Following the first thing I said, I couldn’t be prouder, Justine. You now cringe at your old self, which is a sign of growth. At last, forgive yourself. It doesn’t mean tolerance, but rather opening the gate for easier self-acceptance.
After all, just like in those coming of age movies, character development is a long and tedious process. But the protagonist makes it. And so will you.
Art by Yel Sayo
Still from “A Cinderella Story”