On Being 26 (2006)

When I was in my late teens, I planned that by 27, I will leave my single life behind. I thought that 27 is the best age to settle down and start a family, so that when my kids grow up, I will not be too old to be running around with them. But as I grow closer to 27, I realized that while some plans are meant to happen, some, on the other hand, are meant to postpone, to alter, or to not happen at all. Definitely, this marriage thing has to be postponed since obviously, it is not me who would pop up the question (of course, I’m not blaming it on the culture, but maybe, if I were in a more liberated country right now, things would have been different). It is not just me who has to be ready for the whole marriage. Moreover, by merely looking at it, I am not ready so far! There isn’t even any single inclination to marriage either!

Many tasks were accomplished since I started planning for a better, healthier, and meaningful life. I have traveled and explored (this one doesn’t just end in the planner. This will go on until God knows when.). I have lived my life independently. I have worked hard, played harder, and loved hardest. I still love and play hard, but I vowed not to work as hard as before – I swore to myself to have a more relaxed professional life. I’m working on completely vanishing my fear of heights. I can have any vegetable on my plate now, except for the slimy okra (maybe someday, I’ll learn to like it). I started loving some sports (kick boxing, swimming, badminton) and some physical activities (rock climbing, water rafting), and I want to go into pilates, yoga, and diving soon. I’m beginning to have some interest in photography, and I plan to go into full-blown photography by next year. I started to take some charity works sincerely (yes, I just joined the World Vision Philippines as a sponsor) and I’m working towards having a better relationship with God. I started appreciating little things, which I have never even cared to look at before. Family-wise, I also have plans for my siblings, which I hope to fulfill within the next two to three years. There are more in the list but I’m glad that the list doesn’t look as long now as it was some years ago.

Three days before I turned 26, a very good friend of mine, Steve (thanks Bo!), handed me a CD with pictures of the great times we had together. Also with it, was a letter he wrote for me relating to one of the topics we frequently talked about and understood together – the quarter life. He shared a very nice article in his letter, which I have copied below:

The best gift anyone can give me this Christmas is a planner.
I like planners because I am a planner. I like thinking ahead.

I like being prepared. I get a high from being on top of things.
But some things are beyond planning.
And life doesn’t always turn out as planned.

You don’t plan for a broken heart. You don’t plan for a failed business venture.
You don’t plan for an adulterous husband. You don’t plan for an autistic child.
You don’t plan for spinsterhood. You don’t plan for a lump in your breast.

You plan to be young forever. You plan to climb the corporate ladder.
You plan to be rich and powerful. You plan to be acclaimed and successful.
You plan to conquer the universe. You plan to fall in love — and be loved forever.

You don’t plan to be sad. You don’t plan to be hurt. You don’t plan to be broke.
You don’t plan to be betrayed. You don’t plan to be alone in this world.
You plan to be happy. You don’t plan to be shattered.

Sometimes if you work hard enough, you get what you want.
But most times, what you want and what you get are two different things.

We, mortals, plan. But so does God in the Heavens.

Sometimes, it is difficult to understand God’s plans,
especially when His plans are not in consonance with ours.
Often, when God sends us crisis, we turn to Him in anger.
True, we cannot choose the cross that God wishes us to carry
but we can carry that cross with courage knowing that
God will never abandon us nor send something we cannot cope with.

Sometimes, God breaks our spirit to save our soul.
Sometimes, He breaks our heart to make us whole.
Sometimes, God sends us pain so we can be stronger.
Sometimes, God sends us failure so we can be humble.

Sometimes, God sends us illness
so we can take better care of ourselves.
Sometimes, God takes everything away from us
so we can learn the value of everything He gave us.

MAKE PLANS BUT UNDERSTAND THAT WE LIVE BY GOD’S GRACE.

Growing up, we get dismayed by the realization that we could not get everything we want.

Growing old, we are delighted by the realization
that although we can’t have everything we want, we can want everything we have. 🙂

With Steve (Left-Most) On-Board Nippon Maru

Being 26 isn’t simply just turning a year older. (For me) It’s more of an age of finding one’s worth and one’s place in this world, of assessing plans, and of realizing things. It’s realizing and accepting that not all things work out the way we planned and want them to, that life is what we make out of our planners, and most of all, that some plans are meaningless if we don’t include God and our families in them.

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8 Comments »

  1. Nicole said

    I think i can relate with your blog. I’m turning 26 a couple of months from now, and I don’t know why I’m feeling a little sad? Normally I get excited about the future, but whenever it’s time for me to turn another year older, something just damps my spirit. I enjoy reading your blog. 🙂

  2. pamalfaro said

    On NICOLE: Thanks for dropping by Nicole 🙂 Happy 26th to you. Sending you positive vibes 🙂

  3. scegree said

    hmm… informative ))

  4. Jee said

    Your post speaks directly to what I am experience having just turned 26. I noticed that this is from 2007 and that you are no longer 26, but actually 29/30? It would be very interesting to learn how your perspective may have changed in this new age and any advice you could give. Couldn’t agree more that life is meaningless without family and God. Thank you for sharing this. J

    • pamalfaro said

      Thanks for dropping by Jee. Yes, I am no longer 26 🙂 I’ll be 30 by the end of this year and I am more than happy to have passed that stage of ‘uncertainty’ (so to speak) gracefully 🙂 Well, we can never be certain of things really, but I’d say that I am more certain of my plans now and even more certain about myself. 🙂

      I wrote that post when everything was wobbly then. I didn’t know if I was doing things right since almost everything I did didn’t feel right (or maybe it was just how I perceived things to be then).

      But now, I am more focused, more confident, and more stable. I guess it’s really a part of life to be lost. And while you’re at it, you learn new things, meet new people, and most of all, gain new experiences. It may be challenging to get to the path that we really want but the ‘learnings’ along the way may prepare us to be better in the years ahead 🙂

      Stick to that planner if you have one and make it as full as possible. 🙂 You’ll never go wrong with it 🙂 Happy 26th year! 🙂

      • Jee said

        Hi Pam, thanks for your thoughtful response and follow up on how life is beyond being 26 and lost! So far, I have felt anxious and excited by being lost, which opens up so many avenues of opportunities. Definitely been doing things outside my comfort zone and exploring. I do look forward to moving towards more steady ground eventually. Perhaps the mid-20s years are for challenging the self so that anything else that comes along in life (work, love, friends) will be in line with your core. You sound like a fabulous person. Thanks again, Jee 🙂

  5. pamalfaro said

    @Jee: Alright. 🙂 Good luck and have fun exploring and doing things outside of your comfort zone. That’s an exciting way to learn 🙂 Thanks for your insights too 🙂

  6. Josef said

    Just turned 26 myself, and my feelings resonate with yours. Wish you the best in the coming year! Who knows what plans God may have for your 27th year. Hopefully you know what you want well enough to recognise the chance and to take it when it comes.

    But most important, learning to trust in God is the one thing worthwhile no matter how long it takes. For in this is the whole duty of man…

    Best wishes, and thanks for sharing your thoughts!
    J

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