Francis Rubio

A Canvas Painted Dull and Bright

A look-back on my life as I turn 25.

Birthdays have always been weird to me. Since I started celebrating it again, I’ve always felt forced to be happy every 13th of January. Well, I’ve always looked forward to it, even when I didn’t celebrate it if only to see which ones of my friends and family would remember to greet me on the day. Let it be clear too, though, that I am usually happy and grateful during my birthdays. But after only a few years of celebrating it again as an adult, it’s always been gloomy to me (and I heard that it is also the case for many others).

Today, I took myself out on a long walk. I also treated myself to multiple meals that I never tried before and I thoroughly enjoyed every single item I ordered. But during the walks, I had the time to think—like really think—about the meaning of this day. I turn 25 today, and oh boy, the quarter-life crisis is very real. I start thinking about my purpose, or the meaning of my existence. What really is all this learning for? What is the point of my pain, and what is the reason for me enduring through all of it?

My 24th year on this damned planet brought me through the most transformative period so far in my life. I lost the love of my life when we decided to end things between us (yes, I know you are tired of reading about this). But what followed was simultaneously the worst and best thing to have happened to me. I started seeing clearly the things I needed: money, friends, and more love for myself, in that order. And only now do I get the time to formally address and think about that entire thing.

Today I had an epiphany. And this epiphany showed me a very different me, which makes sense with all the growth and development I was forced to do last year. It was like I walked towards a mirror and it showed a brighter and different self.

In the heart of a transhumanist era, a side portrait reveals a figure gazing sideways, their somber expression encased in a vast crystal astronaut helmet. The helmet, grand and clear, contrasts their contemplative demeanor, suggesting a journey not just through space, but through the depths of human and technological evolution.

I’m bisexual. I’m a former Jehovah’s Witness. I’m a son. I’m a brother to two younger boys. I’m a breadwinner, the only one providing for my family. I’m a writer. I’m a passionate lover, but also a low-maintenance romancer. I’m a friend to many and strive to be an enemy to a few who deserve it. I try to be perfect, and see myself as superior to everyone, but also work hard to show humility and recognize that sometimes people have realized the things that I could only call potential in myself. I’ve hurt a few people, and I regret that some of them are people closest to me. I’ve had my (un)fair share of grief. I’m an orphan. I went through shit, and still, my light shines through the mud that clung to me when I went to hell and back. I am 25.

Life is meaningless, I realize, and that it is up to me to give it meaning. I’d been given a canvas. Others painted brush strokes on it. Some others threw colors. Others splashed blood, sweat, and tears. Some drew a crooked box on it and tied me on the canvas and nailed me so I’d stay inside the box; I didn’t fight. Some saw the canvas and thought it wasn’t worth their time. Some came, drew their little trees and sunshine, and left after crafting their very own masterpiece of a paradise in one corner of my life. Some people drew rainbows and people dancing, but then they started drawing beautiful images of things I didn’t want to see, so I asked them to leave. Some of them wouldn’t budge, so I took my canvas and ran away. When I’m sad, I’d take my canvas with me and go to a cave, and shut it off with a huge boulder. Some people would knock on the boulder and ask for a space in my canvas, so I sometimes let them in. Some people I walk to, make them laugh, and show the canvas. Some of them run away. Some of them walk. Some of them stay. Some of them look at the canvas and whisper to me, “It’s ugly.” Some of them say it out loud. Some of them run back to their friends and laugh at it from afar. Some of them look at the canvas and cry. Some of them gave me money and asked me to buy a new blank canvas. Some of them take red pens and encircle things they don’t like. One of them kissed me on the lips and drew an outline of technicolor pinks and metallic yellows around the burn marks on my canvas. And someone that’s still coming will arrive to pay me with love and care for this fucked up art on my canvas.

But I’m 25 now. And I realize that there’s no better time than now to take my own brush and start painting in my own colors, no matter how abundant or limited those colors might be (yes this is a metaphor about me being broke, I need money). My canvas is fucked up with browns, blacks, and grays. But somewhere in there are green trees, brown people, blue skies, a bright yellow sun, white clouds, and a pink house. 25 is me standing up. 25 is me taking fate by the balls and seizing every day as it comes. 25 is me making things happen, not letting things happen to me. 25 is me driving my life where I want it to be. So yeah, consider this birthday happy. Happy birthday to me!

Back to top