Still from C’mon C’mon (2021) dir. Mike Mills

How safe is too safe

A pre-birthday entry

발이 떼지질 않아 않아 oh
My feet refuse to move, oh

잠시 두 눈을 감아
Close your eyes for a moment

여기 내 손을 잡아
Hold my hand here

저 미래로 달아나자
Let’s run away to the future

Life Goes On, BTS

(This was written on the eve of my 23rd birthday in early August)

5 years ago I was 18. Those years did not fly by, at least not for me. I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs, elations and disappointments, happiness and sadness, as well as the quiet moments in between. 5 years ago I wondered about the future.

Back then, the future would have been right now.

And right now, the future looks like me sitting on a couch at 10pm typing on a laptop with a sitcom playing as background noise. The future looks like a tiring Wednesday where I worked overtime and gaining joy through revisiting a childhood movie.

The future is feeling strangely calm hours before a birthday. I am turning 23 tomorrow.

The future is right now and I still don’t know a lot of things. As a person who feels like they need to know everything, always be prepared, and can’t afford being seen as someone who is lost or confused, I wonder why the contentedness in my heart overpowers all the other complicated feelings I’d usually have.

One of those feelings is fear. I don’t think I would ever be free from fear. It’s just a question of what I fear. A while ago I used to fear being in certain situations; anxious while trying to achieving a goal, scared of trying something new, impatient and waiting to finally be over certain phases of life.

Looking back now, those are things I am supposed to feel. And now it has been a while since I had worried about something for a long time. Why am I mourning this loss??? It does feel good of course, being in the present and enjoying it for what it is, with no weirdly aching feeling in my heart. But I have to ask myself: Have I become braver, or safer?

Am I not feeling as scared because I have become more courageous and less focused on those negative feelings, or am I doing something else entirely? Am I just playing in my safe zone for the sake of comfort?

I think I am at this point in life where I had just finished one big phase and I have this scary and big opportunity to choose a next step. I would like to find out what’s next but at the same time I don’t want to jump too quickly to the question of “what now?”, because what if I chose wrong? My life would be ruined, right?

For the longest time, all I yearned was to have the weekends to myself; no work, no worries, just designated, guilt-free time off. And now I have that. It feels good. I get to enjoy my days as they come. But I also think if I get too comfortable on the familiars, then it’ll become harder to break free when the time comes. I don’t want that.

“So you just have to come on

I realized that I’ve always believed that moving feels like an act of courage. Movement means I know what I am doing. If I am walking, then I must know where I am headed to.

I’ve unknowingly convinced myself that I must have all the answers before I move. Because how dare I make something of myself in the world when I am not prepared? Isn’t it the same as walking blindly into a big, dark room?

What I wish for myself is to choose a path and just ride it out. I want to follow a trail and see where it takes me. If it leads me somewhere worthwhile, I’ll be grateful to myself. If it leads me nowhere, I hope at that time I can still count myself lucky because of the other little things I’d gain along the way. I hope I can be brave enough to see those little things.

And if I ever want to start over, I wish I’ll have an abundance of courage and love in my heart to do so.

Inside the river there is an unfinishable story

and you are somewhere in it

and it will never end until all ends.

— Excerpt from What Can I Say, Mary Oliver



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microscopicals by sara

microscopicals by sara

tiny stories by a tiny 23-year-old writer • she/her/hers