In the previous week, my favourite animation turned 20, the best romantic movie of all times turned two decades as well and my dearest magazine already published its December issue for the 20th time. Why am I bringing this up? Not only had I grown up with Anastasia, Titanic and ELLE Romania, I also happen to change my first digit in about the same period as them.
The shock I felt when I realized all of this should have prepared me for the mental realisation that my teenage years are gone and that I am starting a new chapter. Yet they only made me feel behind all the plans I made for myself.
One month before turning 20 I was going through the hardest times I ever faced – far worse than in my first year apart from my family. I would have frequent anxiety attacks and there was a constant state of helplessness over the very things affecting me. At one point, my mental state had gotten so bad I couldn’t stop crying and I was so restless I had to ask my mom to tell me a bedtime story over the phone.
So, comparing the truth to the reality I have envisioned for myself was a brutal exercise.
I thought that by the time I was 20, I would know what I wanted to do after graduating, either if it were a master or starting a business and I would have been at least partially financially independent. However, here I was: alone, emotionally drained, exhausted, overall confused, and unconfident in myself and thus, questioning all my choices. Was it right to move out of my country? Was my study choice the perfect fit for me? Was I living my best student life? Was I fit to apply for a master? If yes, which one and where?
I will not lie – it was a period I do not wish to relive. I have not fully recovered in order to be myself again and I don’t know what that even means now. However, I am trying to look at the bright side and acknowledge the fact that I still have amazing, supportive parents, that I am healthy and that I am extremely privileged to live through all the good events I get to experience.
Yes, I was planning to read more, to know more and to be more before I turned 20. But I realized that all of these are in vain if your mental health is not on a positive and stable path. So, for my twenties, I am turning my mental health into a priority. My newest goal is to be at peace with myself and with my own body and to find the right balance between controlling things and letting go in front of the unknown.
Here is one of the best messages I came across in Paris, the other day, at Shakespeare and Co. bookshop:
I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being. – Hafiz
*The photo above was taken in Paris, where for one moment, it seemed as if I was stepping into someone else’s shoes. Someone happy, lucky and holding the very magazine once only looked up to which now listed their name under Editorial Team. I still have to come to terms that person’s me and that, maybe, the dream life actually made its way into mine.