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Reflections On My 20th Birthday

Today is my 20th birthday and I have been reflecting on this bittersweet experience that is life. It’s nice to reflect on life every once in a while — with all its absurdity and tragedy. I always say that: “the only thing more tragic than death is life”. Truly, I don’t want happiness, it is a very conformist category. I want to suffer, it is the suffering that makes the journey rewarding.

The feeling of nostalgia for all the happy moments in my existence has overcome me. However, throughout my life, I have always felt that people never understood me. People love to criticize what they don’t understand!  

My life has been one long film or a TV show with 20 seasons — with each season representing a different time period. Looking back at moments in life — there are times in which I feel regret and discomfort for things said and done.

In these moments — it is important to realize that one does not have free will. Our genetics, brain chemistry, movements, interests and environments have already been predisposed.

Knowing this, one cannot consume themselves with the idea that the nature of their reality could have been different. Instead, one must be mindful of mistakes so as to become more rational and ethical.
It is so much easier to be in the present moment. Why be caught up in a endless stream of negative consciousness that will cause you to suffer endlessly? Choose to be present!
We change in every given moment — we grow, learn new things, and become wiser.

It is this rich and delicious process of growing we call the human experience. Growing means self reflecting on our flaws and previous mistakes. This is how we fix past moral failings to become more moral — and in total — become a more ethical human civilization.

It is those who don’t admit their flaws and privileges that I have become most skeptical of in recent years.
It is those who claim the moral high ground for no good reason that I have become wary of. It is those who cling to ideology or tribe that I despise.

Our ability to reason and think independently is what separates us from animals. In my view, those who don’t think freely and presume truth without evidence are not humans — but animals. Our ability to reason and be curious is a gift that has been given to us — and it’s what makes life worth living.

In the final analysis, social change starts when we change ourselves and overcome our differences and dogmas. With all my hypocrisy, entitlements, privilege, narcissism and pretentiousness — I am ready to admit I have not been this transcendent moral actor I have always claimed to have been. As a result, I will try to fix my shortcomings in the best way I know how — while also retaining the qualities that make my personality unique.

And, yes, I do dislike people generally — for their stupidity, pettiness, close mindedness and dishonesty — but I am willing to converse with them nevertheless.
As much as I sometimes like to imagine a life in complete solitude — I know I couldn’t stomach the loneliness.

I am so excited for what is ahead in my life. My passions and interests have become endless. In the future, I imagine myself biking in Italy or mediating in India or in a library in Istanbul — this all makes me thrilled.

My love for film, literature, discourse, philosophy and so on have consumed all my time — while my passions have made my brain hungry for more knowledge.

Constantly, a desire to innovate hits me. No longer must I please anyone or engage in mediocre consumer capitalism. No longer will I partake in a shitty job. I love myself way too much for that.

I feel a freedom I have never felt before. Yes, this freedom sometimes comes with loneliness. But, I refuse to be a part of the status quo laissez faire bureaucratic mediocrity. Being a free thinker and an innovator comes at a price.

Many people hate me for speaking my opinion about shitty art or just telling the truth in general. I am willing to risk everything for truth. What could possibly be more important than telling the truth or pursuing it? Many fear the truth, I don’t.

All innovators once deviated from social and religious norms. Socrates, Newton, Aristotle, Steve Jobs and so on, all deviated from the status quo. I may never achieve what these men did, but at least I would have tried.

I refuse to obey the status quo, nor do I care what art is popular. I shall devote my life to artistic expression and intellectual freedom and exploration. Like Socrates said: “An unexamined life is one not worth living”.

I would like to end this essay with a quote from a film I have decided to see on my 20th birthday in complete solitude for the second time in the theater. The film is the 2018 Turkish film The Wild Pear Tree by one of my favorite directors, Nuri Bilge Ceylan.

The film is about a young adult who has just finished college and is ready to become a writer — but his pretentiousness and narcissism catch up to him — along with his society shunning his interests and talents.

At the end of the film — the young adult’s father tells him: “The young must criticize the old, that’s how change starts”.


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