mental health

[New School] Adulthood and the battle against time

Jedidiah Villanueva
[New School] Adulthood and the battle against time

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'You have to get things done by year this, and start doing this in year that. Otherwise, you lose.'

As a child, I always wished the hands of the clock would turn faster. I never liked having to pass the time, to stare into nothingness, the words of my teacher hanging in the air as I sat on a hard wooden chair. My childhood was boring — uneventful at best and ineffectual at worst. Besides that, I was acutely pressured into doing my best academically, a pressure bestowed upon me by no one else but myself. It was the same pressure that tied me down to familiarity, letting opportunities waste away somewhere else. So, one cannot blame this little girl for wishing that time moved faster. “Fast forward to college, please.” 

But college proved to be extremely difficult once time did go fast. You constantly thought of being jobless after graduation, getting burnt out, or not graduating at all — all while being a sophomore at university. These images set foot in your mind uninvited at least twice a month – right after a bad recitation, after a flunked quiz. And as if on cue, you would remember how you used to have it easy in high school. It was child’s play compared to the puzzle that was college. 

The battle against time becomes even more pronounced once you start putting yourself out there. There, being adulthood, where you realize that the lack of privileges plays a huge role. It makes you feel like you have to have a head start because you do not have the same connections like other kids. You have to get things done by year this, and start doing this in year that. Otherwise, you lose. 

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Longing for the past 

High school feels like it was just yesterday, yet it also feels like it was a lifetime ago. Some memories from five years ago appear opaque now, but the same can be said about memories that happened in 2021. Yesterday, I felt so young, with only my science homework in mind – which, I realize now, does not make an impact in the grand scheme of things.

Today, I learned that I was beginning to age, too. Physical appearance aside, younger me and older me are starkly different, in that 14-year-old me would have frowned upon 20-year-old me missing 1-point quiz questions in college. The younger version of myself hated not leading group projects, but the older version’s back already aches just thinking about initiating a group paper in college. 

Sometimes, unprovoked memories cause fear: fear of what’s to come and of what already has. And it’s extra difficult once it dawns on you that you can never be the same girl from years ago, with the same trivial problems and the same outlook on life. Watching that realization unfold is a scary, sobering experience, but it is, just the same, necessary. 

I regret telling time to pick up the pace, because maybe if I hadn’t, I would not be aching for the past and the energy I had in me then. 

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Time is relative 

Scientists are right, time truly is relative. And that concept does not seem real until it happens to you. On good days, you would wish that time went by slowly so you could soak up all the things that were happening before your eyes. On bad days, you would wish that time passed more quickly because you cannot, for the life of you, get things done today, and think that perhaps tomorrow, you can. 

Focusing too much on the past stops you from appreciating the present and planning for the future. There is a reason why our eyes are placed in the front of our heads and not in the back: so we can look ahead. Time may feel like it’s in a rush, so much so that changes happen in a blink of an eye. Despite that, this does not warrant us to long for the past. Instead, it reminds us to make space for growth to take place. 

It is fine to look back on the past, but not too much that you forget to live in the moment. Even so, taking stock of every little detail that is happening in your life right now might not be the best way to approach things. Combining these two aptly may be just enough to wade through life. 

And so, my battle against time continues. However, I must say that I am at a disadvantage here because time will not stand still for me, or for anyone else, for that matter. The possibility of time stopping or even slowing down is just so bleak; the most realistic course of action is to let time take flight and mold you the way it intends to. –

Jedidiah Villanueva is an incoming Organizational Communication junior at the University of the Philippines Manila.

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