By Bronte Delmonico / Matthew Staff
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
I hate my birthday. And this is a weighted statement coming from an only child who is used to the world practically revolving around her. Now, I’m not one of those people that doesn’t like when the day is all about me, because I do, or feel the unnecessary urge to cry as some people do. I hate my birthday, not because I don’t love to eat cake, open gifts, and to be sung an off-key song by my most cherished people, but because I despise the weight of another year being added onto my life.
My father and I are alike in many ways. He often refers to us as ‘twins,’ and I grudgingly admit that it’s true (if you saw a picture you would agree too). We have the same droopy eyes and upturned smile, we possess the same impressive patience, and love of Sunday matinees. But we also carry the same fears – most notably of time.
I have lived through the majority of my adolescence constantly dreading losing it. Of finally exiting the so called “best years of my life.”
In my defense, we live in a very apologetic world. Somewhere along the line competition and the demand for discipline rose above humanity. Thich Nhat Hanh once said that “We are very good at preparing to live, but not very good at living.” We unquestionably take all advised precautions, we are willing to sacrifice, weaving a safety net made of steel for a future not always guaranteed.
I remember my years in high school, waking up each morning at 6, to go to school from 7 till 2:30, immediately to after class extracurriculars, lucky if I had time to sit down with my parents for dinner, followed by hours of homework and to finally retire at 12-1AM, only to wake up the next day to do it all over again.
This was my footnote description of being a young adult. However, while I’ve always been a routine person, when I think of my most fondest memories, they’re always the ones in between these designated time slots I rigidly assigned for myself.
To tell you how I trained myself to permit these glorious interruptions of my sacred routine, I will attempt to give you my advice on love. While we have certainly all been counseled on the principles of love at one point or another, please withhold the heavy sigh and eye roll and allow me to explain. And I don’t mean strictly romantic love, because God knows I am the furthest from qualified. I am here not to speak on merely loving, but rather the act of being in love.
The act of being young and in love. This kind of love I’m talking about is foolproof. They said that most love “just takes time” yet I think this is the only kind of love where you wish time would just slow down.
Be young and in love with uncomfortability and uncertainty – of not knowing where you’ll be next and who you’ll meet along the way. I remember coming home from college for the first time last winter and my mother asking me how I’d grown going to school in a foreign country. And I remember telling her that I was beginning to learn how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. And it was the greatest feeling.
This is the one guaranteed time in our lives that we are brazenly given permission to make mistakes. The unofficial time to question everything, to try, and to fail, to pick ourselves back up again, and to fail once more, no questions asked. Revel in this failure.
If I’m not mistaken we all sometimes feel as if we are slowly treading through a sea of expectations, with waves of responsibility, competition, and ambition crashing down on us. But rather than allowing ourselves to sink beneath the waves, what if we stay still for a moment right where we are, and float to the surface.
Be young and in love with right now. If you find yourself slipping in between the convenience and security of the past and the anticipation and responsibility of the future, I encourage you to remind yourself of your exact location in this room, of this building, on this side of the river, in this marvelous city, of this region, in this country, of this continent, and of this world. Zoom out of where you are and find assurance in the vastness and you will realize that you are exactly where you need to be, doing exactly what you should be doing.
You’re in Rome for goodness sake! Every time I feel myself beginning to collapse under my own thoughts and self-induced stress, I remind myself that it’s okay to have a bad day because at least I’m having a bad day in Rome.
Finally, be in love with the little moments – relish in them. Find love in calling your mom on the walk in between classes, because you know you love to talk and she loves to listen. With tasting each bite and not just eating it, because the complexities of food are far too underrated and too pleasurable to be missed. With the giddy tiredness as a repercussion of the late night escapade of eating undercooked pasta from a pot with your roommate on the kitchen floor at three in the morning.
I am still clumsily learning to live for the moment, not the memory. Of course, how and why the moments I fell in love and have shared with you today are completely subjective to me, but nonetheless I encourage you to find them for yourselves.
As someone who is freshly 20 years old, I present this to you in the midst of grasping it myself, not as one who looks back with nostalgia. Everyone gets to be young, but not everyone gets to be old. I once was told I have the same 24 hours as Elon Musk. And while I’m not suggesting you embark on space exploration after class, appreciate the privilege of not experiencing severe hangovers while you can.
I’ll leave you with a quote from one of my most beloved movies, About Time, in which the painfully awkward main character, Tim, has the miraculous ability to travel back in time to any given moment in his life. After making quite a few mistakes, enduring both heartbreak and loss, he finally concludes, “I just try to live every day as if I’ve deliberately come back to this one day, to enjoy it, as if it was the full final day of my extraordinary, ordinary life.”
Harness this fleeting time and savor your youth, bask in the feeling of falling in love each day. I know that what I am saying may seem redundant and obvious and simple, repeated by all the greatest minds of humankind in some form or another, plastered on inspirational posters we’ve learned to unconsciously dismiss. But more often than not we find ourselves running around in a panic and we need someone, in this case, me, to remind us:
Oh to be young and in love!