Voyage Voyage

March 23, 2009
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I have often wondered: What does it mean to grow up? What are the indicators? Does it mean one is grown up after she has had her first glass of tequila? Or perhaps after finally getting the Chanel purse she has dreamed about? Maybe it is the day she is finally tired of arguing with her parents. Or, when she is no longer surprised hearing someone having sex next door. Or-- Maybe one never grows up? When I think about it, the expression “grown up” really doesn’t mean very much. Every human being continues to grow and continues to change throughout her life. It is more like a voyage, a voyage which everyone wants to take and find what lies beyond the horizon.
At age of ten or so, I truly believed I was a captain, completely in charge, and definitely Somebody, while others were Nobody. Mom was just mom, dad was dad, grandma was grandma and grandpa was just grandpa, like all the other grandpas in the world. Until the day I found the huge package in that little storage room, which contained family pictures and letters from long ago. I was stunned, for nobody ever told me the stories and it seemed I would never get a chance to get to know about those histories. Suddenly I realized they are all somebody but I was the Nobody. Maybe that is growing up, when one can be self-effacing because she knows no matter what she has achieved, it was only temporary. If she can never get over this, her ship will never be launched because of the excess baggage.
At age of fifteen or so, I had a fierce passion to pursue my dreams and believed without doubt that as long as I worked hard, there was nothing I could not get. But I found out I was too optimistic—more than once I sat on stairs or in a corner crying for a whole afternoon, and cry even harder when nobody discovered me and asked me what’s going on? What was I crying for? My puppy’s lost, my horrible term grades, my grandma’s death? How long did I need to recover? A day, a month, a year? After those failures, I realized I expected too much of the real world. Not everything is reachable just by working hard. Too many X factors pop up along the way and force me to either stop or go in another direction. Maybe that is growing up, when you know how to calm down, take failures easily and get over it quickly, because the wind is still blowing, your voyage needs to continue.
Gradually I learned to control my emotions well and by watching others. I would laugh when I wanted to cry, and cry when I wanted to laugh. . I finally assembled a whole collection of personas, I printed them on my sails and carried them with me everywhere I went. I became ever more skillful in picking the right sail in 0.001 second and switching it for another even more quickly—I put on a corsair sail when I see a corsair ship around. I realized pretending is not always wrong; It can be a way to protect myself.
When I was young, I looked forward to the day I would be completely independent. I would leave my small house, run away from my parents, explore the whole world by myself and do whatever I was told not to do. I would sail the farthest ocean where nobody could catch me, I would wave my shirt in the wind and sail towards the vanishing point, and I would reach Bermuda and see if the legend was true. And I really did, I went abroad to study, I lived with friends and told my parents not to call me too frequently. I dressed the way I thought was extremely cool. I got what I wanted—Now what? Suddenly I felt there must come a day, when finally, I would find myself frustrated, exhausted, and wishing only to go home. It would be the appropriate ending for a long voyage—Going back to where I started from.
Growing up seems like giving up all the things one has come to believe. To tell the truth, I know nothing about growing up, except that it takes courage,the courage to face the variables and deal with them, those windy days and rainy nights in my voyage from which I have learned so very much.

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