1/08/2019
Greetings from the system

The first birthday greeting I received this year - not that I'm counting; it's just a detail worth mentioning, I think - is from a bank I do business with.

I haven't received those emails from them before, so at the very least it tells me they finally have my email address firmly in their system, even if I never really changed email addresses. These are little annoying things. Tells you they're sloppy.

But then there was something just a little more annoying about it. It wasn't really a birthday greeting.

Well, yes, it has "Happy birthday!" as the very first sentence, but that wasn't even the subject line. It was, rather, a vaguely threatening "Start reaching your goals now!" which inevitably leads to the question: what are my goals anyway?

I have not really thought about that. Not that I'm aimless - I'm not that aimless - but I never had a point in my life when I mapped out my life to be at a certain point when I am at a certain point. The closest, perhaps, was one point in my high school years when I daydreamed of living at a condominium unit in Makati. Then again, I also had accepted then that I'll be single for the rest of my life, and that's been wrong for six years and counting now.

Still, it was a vaguely threatening "Start reaching your goals now!" that greeted me first, and after they got the perfunctory greeting out of the way, they proceeded to sell me more financial solutions. Why not get another bank account? Why not get a car loan and finally have a vehicle to call your own? Why not invest your money in... something? More reasons to celebrate, they say. Yay.

I'm turning thirty tomorrow. Thirty! It's the point in one's life nobody speaks about in celebratory terms. It's the point when you definitely cease having all of the possibilities the world has to offer at your fingertips. By the time you turn three decades old you're pretty much locked in, unless, of course, you're born to a filthy rich family and you have more than enough money to pivot away from your mistakes and show up relatively unscathed elsewhere.

So, here I am, possibly regretting falling in love with writing in high school, and boldly thinking I can make a career out of it. Why not? I am a good writer, after all. Well, all right, I have gotten to where I am in part because I can write and everybody else has difficulty articulating their thoughts. But I should've known writing doesn't really pay much because everybody is taught to do that from childhood. Also, the most successful writers are willing to take some, or a lot of, risks, and I'm not one of them. Also, I would not have known the whole "writing for a living" thing will go tits-up at the very moment I was daydreaming of working for a magazine.

I'm turning thirty. My attention span is problematic. I spend time on social media even if I shouldn't, and it keeps on telling me that I am falling behind. My peers are all older than me and yet they've all gotten that second bank account, that car loan, that house loan, that small business loan - and they're not all filthy rich people. And it also keeps on telling me that all that I see is not important, that I should just continue doing things at my pace, because only my happiness is important. And it also allows distant relatives to ask me when I'm getting married.

I'm turning thirty tomorrow. I'm definitely going to be locked in to where I am right now. Any pretense that I can still turn things around are most definitely gone. These kids taking over our high streets and our Spotify playlists and our printing presses - "we have no use for this; everything is online now!" - they're the ones with all the possibilities at their fingertips. Me, I am a spent force. I have squandered the few opportunities that have come my way. I am also not filthy rich. I can only daydream of being in Sweden or Japan.

I wish that bank just greeted me a happy birthday and got on with it. Or, I wish they didn't at all. I wouldn't mind. It's a bank. It's not supposed to be that close to me.

And your responses...

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