meaning, n.: The end, purpose, or significance of something.

A QUICK google search “What is the meaning of life?” churned out some interesting results on Wikipedia, forums, quote-books and philosophical pages of sorts. For some, it entails religious connotations and the belief in God. Other arguments border on ideas of value systems, purpose and the pursuit of happiness.

But a life does take into consideration its start and end; a lifespan of experiences. Taking a snapshot at this point of my life, what then does it mean to be 23?

Now that I am 23.

I have seen my good friends working hard in their early years, to make a brand for themselves. Today, at 23, one of whom is a radio DJ and owns a lucrative events management business. The other is a talented make-up artist and hairstylist, not shy to the local media scene. My girlfriends, on the other hand, are on route to joining the teaching profession. Another quick search on Facebook would update me on the various statuses of my other secondary school and college friends – accountants, engineers, IT programmers, journalists, forensic analysts, lawyers, stage producers. I guess success, defined by careers, is part of the equation… Part of the equation of life’s meaning. After an entire decade of friendship, it’s amazing to see them grow up and become who they are now in their respective career choices.

Likewise for me, I spent 4 years in graduate school pursuing a profession I knew I have always wanted to be a part of. I am now at the juncture in life where I have left my student role, and about to embark on the working journey – starting tomorrow. It is a scary transition really. Thinking about the responsibilities I have to the occupational therapy department and the obligation I have to my clients. Thinking about achieving competency, and putting the theories I have studied in school into good practice now. Thinking about the autonomy of my clinical reasoning and judgement, no longer hiding under the mask of a less-than-confident student on placement.

Wow, just wow.

At least for now, being 23 means congratulations to becoming an occupational therapist. No longer just an occupational therapy student. But it goes beyond that. It means celebrating my autonomy in being able to financially support myself. Having the means to contribute back to my parents who have played such an important role in moulding me to becoming the person I am now. To say “Hey Papa, let me take the family out for dinner tonight.” To make my parents proud of me, that I did not turn out to be a menace to society so to speak.

Maybe for now the riches are not what contributes to the pursuit of my happiness. Being 23 is not about living in a condominium, driving fast cars and parading around in a Prada bag. But I do know what makes me happy on top of occupational therapy… To be able to do the things that I enjoy in my spare or leisure time – travelling, trying out a new place with my boyfriend, picnics with girlfriends, running, capturing Kodak moments of the places I have been and the people I have met, telling stories of my adventures. They not only make me happy, but also to feel rejuvenated and at peace. Being 23 allows me the youth to do these things I enjoy. I am empowered with the energy and the time, without having to think about responsibilities I might be entrusted with if I was a tad older… like marriage and children and paying the bills (gees I cringe at the mention). It gives me the drive to work hard and earn means to afford doing these things I enjoy; and to explore the dozen other things I label ‘bucket list’.

Being 23 means that there is still so many things out there that I have not learned about. I don’t think anyone at the age of 93 can learn everything there is to learn either. I should be out exploring the world, absorbing as much as I can and learning for as long as I can; be it in matters of occupational therapy or simply just life experiences. In this process, I hope to grow and become a better person. To be more spiritual, more compassionate, twice wiser, and be better able to put things into perspective.

23 is a youthful age, a wonderful place to be. It means a whole entire life ahead of me, dreaming of endless possibilities and envisioning how I want my life to be at 43 or 83. I don’t think I have it quite figured out yet, but that’s what makes it all the more interesting.

Because to me, the meaning of life right now is simply just to live in the moment and hope for the best.

After all, I still have 2 more years till I turn 25 to figure out all the big puzzles of life (potentially a quarter-life crisis there).

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About Nani Adilla Zailani

Essentially, living in the moment and loving all things beautiful.

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