A ton of people still seem to assume I’m 22 for some reason. I suppose the legends are true: Asians don’t raisin. (Shout out to good genes!) My birthday is on the horizon, and every time at this point of the year I reflect on my progress and how I can slow down my inevitable mortality.
I was stuck in neutral for a long time in my twenties; floundering in the purgatory that was community college, dreaming of making movies, but without the necessary experience or access to resources to make those dreams a reality. It’s wonderful to be able to accomplish all of the goals I’ve ever wanted to accomplish now, creatively and professionally, with a greater confidence, but it wasn’t something that happened over night. There wasn’t a switch that was flipped, no “a-ha!” moment of enlightenment; just stone cold work ethic and stubborn persistence.
However, the key catalyst to my self-realization were the relationships I made with people in college. Since I was in school for such a long time, I ended up making friends with folks who were much younger than me, but that didn’t change how much I admired them. How much I looked up to them. Their energy, their curiosity, and their passion for life; it was absolutely infectious.
I was ashamed of how long it took me to graduate. I saw my childhood friends go on to do bigger and more age appropriate things for themselves (career, marriage, babies, etc.). It left a feeling of hollow emptiness inside of me. It felt like failure, but on steroids and horse tranquilizers.
But it was the power of the youth that revitalized me. Like that cheesy romantic comedy starring Zac Efron, “17 Again”, it was a second chance to recapture that brief moment of my youth that I didn’t get an opportunity to appreciate the first time around.
“But Ben, you’re still in your twenties!”
I know, I know, I sound very dramatic right now, but I didn’t get to truly take it all in and experience everything that I needed to experience at that time in my life: the laughter, the heartbreak, the liberating feeling of being comfortable in my own skin. Whether it was a personal tragedy or a lack of support for my pursuit of the arts, there was always a roadblock and I was left to pick up the pieces by myself.
It’s a relief to not have to feel like I'm alone in this bizzaro journey anymore.
I found people who not only liked the same quirky pop culture stuff, but also shared similar philosophies, morality, and ethics in life, love, and the arts. You can’t put a price on that. You can’t put an age on that.
I’ve been criticized in the past for being childish, but I like to think of myself as childlike. I don’t want ever want to lose my imagination or curiosity. How could anyone possibly go through their lives, especially their youth, without feeling some sort of passion? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I love being a kid. I LOVE BEING PSYCHED ALL THE TIME!!! I believe it’s possible to sift through all of the garbage that adulthood throws at us without having to compromise our sense of wonderment.
Now that I’ve become more comfortable and secure in discussing my age, I can laugh at how ridiculous it was feeling like I was a total failure in those first few years of college. I’m happy to have done it with the people I respect and the people that I love, unconditionally.
Thanks for keeping me young.