It’s the second year of recapping the year as I turn a year older, and I plan to keep this going on as long as I can. For me, the feeling of growing up passes by gradually, most of the time unnoticed. Birthdays are one of the occasions that signal a time to intentionally delve deep into oneself — to witness, to acknowledge, to look back on and to remember life’s big and small moments that don’t necessarily make me “older” but “wiser” in terms of just experiencing more of what life is (the good, the bad and the in-between).

Where to start?

I looked back on last year’s entry and I already knew write off the bat that this entry will sound much different. Last year had a much more positive and hopeful tone, and you’ll find that as you read, my words now are tinted with hints of resignation and anticipation. As cliche as it sounds, the phrase “coming of age” can be the title of the beginning chapters of my 20s. This period came “late” to me in a sense that it’s usually associated in the teen years but I finally understand what it means to wrestle with one’s identity. I never felt it so strongly as I did the past year.

What I was expecting led to my biggest challenges…

I thought that last year would be the toughest, and I thought that the adjustment period would be quick, but it never came. I also didn’t anticipate that the end would still be nowhere in sight. This year, I thought I would find better footing in the different areas of my life. I didn’t expect to stumble and to lose grip completely on one of my biggest responsibilities — being a student. I always associated learning to academics, but this year completely shattered that notion. My curiosity and desire to learn never left me, but the pains of online schooling numbed me to the title of being a student because I didn’t feel like I was learning anything. I felt the weight of the pandemic more because my patience and hope seemed to have dwindle, and acceptance was just an unfathomable concept for me. The longer things seemed stagnant or even getting worse, the more worn down I became.

What I am proud of are also things I am incredibly grateful for…

When I say I’m a learner at heart, I mean it in the sense that I don’t think I’m someone who lets life just pass me by without me learning and getting the most of out of things. While online school doesn’t work for me, I’m incredibly grateful that I’ve found some sort of school of life in climbing. It’s been fulfilling my physical, mental, social and emotional needs the best way it can. I’ve been exposed to just an amazing set of people I find so much comfort and joy in, and I’m in an environment wherein I’m free to explore who I am without any judgment. I’m the strongest I have ever been, thanks to guidance from my climbing friends and I find myself falling more and more in love with the sport and all that it brings — including being exposed to my weaknesses and frustrations. Another constant I will never not be grateful for are my relationships, even the strained ones. Pockets of happiness pop up in my day because of sweet and short exchanges from select loved ones and this year really taught me not to underestimate the value of a simple check in with someone dear. I’m also grateful for all my low points, especially when I couldn’t feel His presence as much as I did before. As bad as it sounds, I know I have to trust that I am in that wrestling phase with my faith. Instead of struggling to get back to where I was (which is not something I’m even sure I want to go back to), I want to let myself wander and trust that I’ll eventually embrace my faith too. What I am praying for especially now is that I intentionally learn more about His character. It’s been a spiritually dry season, but I’ve felt extraordinary amounts of love from people I consider huge blessings so I guess I still attribute the happiest moments as blessings from Him.

A place for the thoughts I occasionally make some time for. (