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SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 6 July)—Where am I? As of this writing, you will find me at my table in my school’s Research and Extension office as a student intern, all while squeezing my brain about how to finish this essay given this spare time—the least answer I can give.

To make it deeper, really, where am I? Scrolling through my Facebook timeline, I find myself happy and proud to see my former batchmates and classmates, as well as my friends, wearing togas, getting jobs, passing board exams, traveling overseas, etc., to the point of becoming an apple of discord for myself—I, too, where am I? Where am I in my early twenties?

In my teenage years, I used to carry the mindset that people in their early twenties had what they had eyed when they were younger, whether it was obtaining a college degree, a dream job, a dream family, or simply a promising, fruitful future ahead. Little did I know that it does not always work that way for everyone. Take it from me.

On one fateful day, I figured out that by my early twenties, I would be somewhere or someone I dreamed of being, not knowing the boundless pressure it could possibly give me as I steered the course of my life and the societal-based coercions that go on. Eventually, I stumbled upon my way, leading me to the ultimate realization that not all I envisioned would come to reality for reasons, and that’s okay; as they say, everything happens for a reason.

During the journey, I have learned people’s stories that could relate to mine. For example, some vloggers my age did not dream they would become vloggers when they were younger. In some instances, a diligent, consistent honor student who dreamed of becoming a lawyer did not pursue law school, or a health worker who pledged to stay in the country did not stay. Perhaps for some, they did make it or are currently living what they dreamed of, and some even exceed their own expectations. Kudos to them. But again, it does not always work that way for some people, including me.

Where am I? No matter how demoralizing it might seem, I believe it is nice to still embrace the dreamer within me, for it will give me a sense of reference on what and how to improve myself, if any. At this point, I am glad of the early twenties I am shaping myself into; now more than ever, I am perpetually learning with every step I take. Thus, where am I? I’d like to think that I am a student—a student of a teacher that is called “life.” And in order to survive the standards, I will make efforts.

Such notions have led me to not allow serious impediments to distract me and instead remind myself that life is too short, so it is better to live a life trying to be productive for whatever things are heading towards. It may not be the life I always wanted, but I know it has helped me learn new things, explore the unexplored, and rekindle my passion for the things I know I love, such as what I am doing right now, which is writing while at my table, dwelling on this spare time.

Where am I? Honestly, at first, I’d like to anticipate that the answers to this question might come in the form of an overwhelming sense of regret, agitation, and even self-doubt. Luckily, it turned out differently.

I will be 23 very soon, the greatest age for the early twenties. I try to make the most of it; if I can’t, maybe I’d like to think that age is just a number after all. Besides, who sets a timetable for us?

Now, it’s your turn to ask yourself the same question: Where am I? And whatever the answer may be, I hope you acknowledge what you feel.

(Jhon Steven C. Espenido, 22, is from Surigao City. He is an AB English Language student at Surigao del Norte State University.)

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