Congratulations. You’ve made it. I mean, I’ve seen how you were like just a year ago; aching with longing, hopes and dreams of being free. Hopes that were dashed, dreams shattered, freedom deemed an illusion. Well, not any more. Here you are, a free man. Put your hands in front of you and take a good look at them. These are the hands that have been through things sworn to secrecy, things not anybody could have comfortably gone through. Best of all; these hands are real, and in fact you are real; you are free. And it feels good, doesn’t it. Trust me, I would know. I am you after all, so I know exactly how you feel. I have lived through every last afterthought, wrestled with every spent emotion. And trust me, you feel great.
Now you have a job. Being free may mean a lot of things to you, but to me it doesn’t mean you simply drift into the wind and dissolve into the cool air. It means way more than that. It means you start to take charge of who you are, the person you want to be. You start to embrace the control you have over you. Do what you love, that is my first piece of advice to you. Do what you love and don’t compromise for anything less. You’ve done more than enough of that already. If you love to write, write. If you love to draw, draw. If you love exploring caves and climbing mountains, book a flight out of Singapore NOW. If you love climbing trees, go find a tree and get some harnesses. If you love to roll around in the mud, roll around in the mud (or on second thoughts, don’t). Find something you love, and just pursue it relentlessly as if the world would be a harsher place if you didn’t.
Explore the world! Regardless of whether you love travelling or not, you have to explore the world. Oh no! you may scream but this conflicts slightly with doing what you love but I’m not interested in listening to your excuses. You need to travel, and it is a need. It is therapy for the oppressed, the remedy for wanderlust, the window to the world. You can’t possibly not love that. Step out into colder air, feel your skin dry up and your lips crack. Try foreign coffees, beer, sausages, sweetbreads, spices followed by a lot of water. Even water tastes different overseas if you try hard enough. Run through museums, theme parks, farmland,
jungle, old streets, skyscrapers, hills with great views, mountains with greater views, castles, villages, wells, coin fountains and churches. Take a thousand pictures and post ten of them. Have a travel journal if it helps you appreciate things, don’t have one if it doesn’t. Live out the dreams you dreamt in the past. See the world, and see it not for any greater purpose. See it for the sake of seeing it. Thats what being young and free permits you to do.
Take the risks and make plans that you never dared to in the past. You’re free now so nothing is realistically holding you back. You can no longer use your lack of freedom as an excuse for anything: the whole world knows that you’re a fish let out into the open sea. But this is not about the world, because truthfully, you don’t have to take risks, I’m just saying that now is the best time to. You won’t ever find so much time again in your lives, so much time to explore what you really want. Go for that job interview, start that fitness regime, go for that bungee jump or if you’re really brave; confess your love for someone. Whatever the outcome, good or bad, time will be your friend. There will be time to work towards your goals and there will be time to recover from failure (unless your bungee cord snaps, of course). This is your time to explore not just the world outside, but the world within you as well. Don’t waste it.
You were young and you still are. The young should be free and though that wasn’t a reality back then, it sure is now. Don’t forget that, liven up! Don’t feel sulky and disheartened anymore, and stop being tired of things. Now is the worst time to let tiredness seep in, to let the grown-up in you steal away from your experiences. You must hold on to the hope you had stored up all this time and saturate your very being in the realisation of these hopes. Thoughts like this is overrated, why am I doing this, what’s next? and worst of all, I’m too old for this should never find their way to you in whatever you do. Absolve to never be tired of anything, to never complain of tiredness and to always try new things. You are free and you are finally doing what you want. If that doesn’t give you a sudden surge of energy, I don’t know what will.
I think I’ve almost said enough! As a parting word, remember, remember, remember: don’t take this freedom for granted. It is as beautiful as it is fragile. Off you go now, the world is waiting.
My newly freed self