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Growing up is hard. It’s funny how when we are young, we can not wait to grow up. The illusion of it all mesmerizes us. However, reality has a way of sneaking up on us. The more you grow up, the more tiring life gets. To me, the concept of growing up is so foreign. I mean I understand the concept of birthdays. Each year, you turn a year older, and with age and time, your life takes a certain turn and you follow it. For example, I am nineteen years old. I am a sophomore in college. I have a bank account now. I work at an actual place where I get paid actual money because I need to pay my bills. I understand the concept of responsibilities and the freedom that comes with growing up. But despite that, do you ever feel detached from the age you are? Because I constantly do.

I have a sister who is four years older than me. I remember when she turned nineteen, I could not even imagine ever being that age. When I was fifteen years old, being nineteen, having a driver’s license, working at a job, going to college were part of an imaginary world that was far far away. Now, here I am doing it all and I still do not “feel” nineteen years old. I mean how is a person supposed to even feel it? What is the criteria? What are the rules?

Some part of me still feels that I am twelve years old. As you start adulting, life begins to take over in such a way that it’s hard for you to be at peace with yourself. It almost feels like there is always a deadline for something. If it’s not school, then it’s work, if it’s work then there are other responsibilities. If it’s not that, then it’s overthinking everything in your life. Personally, for the longest time, I thought once I move out and go to college, I would be happy. I used to think about it every day in high school but now that I am here and I am still not happy; everything almost feels like a lie. I have been contemplating this for a long time now and I have some answers as to why.

I read a quote somewhere that said, “how we spend our days, is of course, how we spend our lives”. I spend most of my days thinking about the next day, or the next month, or how I will be happy once I get to a certain part of my life. Thus, I am constantly chasing something that does not exist. And, honestly, I think chasing happiness is quite tiring because happiness, just like sadness, is extremely fickle. It goes as it comes. Instead, I now seek a peace of mind. I do not want to spend my days (which are essentially my life) yearning for a feeling that may or may not come. I just want to be content with myself.

The question is then how? Honestly, I do not know if the answer I have is the right one, but I will share anyway. I just want to stop being a spectator to my own life. These days it almost feels like I am an audience of my own movie and I really want to be the main character (cheesy? I know!). I reflected back to my childhood and tried to find a time where I was genuinely at peace with myself and my life. It just so happens that it was when I was around twelve or thirteen. I think this is because without realizing it, I used to value the little things in life back then. 

Excuse me as I share another quote here, but quotes really help me understand myself better, “Sometimes we are not extraordinary people, sometimes we have to work extra hard to make ordinary things extraordinary.” With that in mind, here is a quick list of things that I plan to do to feel a little bit more in sync with myself. These past few months have been extremely challenging and weird for all of us. I hope you can use some of these suggestions to feel a little bit better as well. Being a broke college student, I have tried to keep the list very budget-friendly.

  1. Find a book at a nearby bookstore or library
  2. Go for a color walk (find a color, follow it around and take pictures)
  3. Sit under a tree and hug it 
  4. Take yourself on a nice coffee date
  5. Go on a walk and give names to different trees
  6. Go to the dollar store to get some fun craft supplies and make something
  7. Make a collage or mood board
  8. Bring watercolors to a park and paint the scenery
  9. Go to the park and swing on the swings
  10. Bake treats for your friends or family
  11. Try learning how to knit or crochet
  12. Go wildflower hunting
  13. Watch the sunset with some tea or coffee
  14. Doodle in the park
  15. Put on some throwback hits and dance it out
  16. Cloud watching in the park 

These are just a few things I am planning on incorporating into my life. If you decide to do any of these things or wish to add anything to the list above, please let me know. My email is 

saleenad@uci.edu

saleena dhakal

UC Irvine '24

“A stranger to his own home”. I remember quickly jotting this down in my journal in class as we were watching Hamlet during my senior year in high school. It’s a sentence that has resonated with me ever since. Hi, I am a first-generation college student who has been on this journey of finding her identity ever since I moved to the United States at the age of twelve. I would like to say I am nowhere close to reaching the destination but slowly and steadily I am definitely getting there. And, when I am not trying to find deep meanings out of simple things in life, you will find me either watching Friends or jamming out to One Direction, or doing both :).
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