Francis Rubio

Turning 24

It’s jarring to be so young yet feel so old and late to everything life has to offer.

I’m finally 24 years old. And I don’t know how to feel about that. On one hand, it’s a glorious day to have another year on this wet floating rock we call Earth, and Kelly Clarkson said it’s awesome to be older. But at the same time, it feels like everyone’s going faster than me, and that I am lagging behind, sometimes a bit too much. And now that I am thinking about it, a lot of old people always say that 24 is really young, so now I am stressing about how I am not really enjoying my life at this young. It’s really stupid of me to be anxious that I am too old and too young at the same time.

It’s my birthday.

This will be my first birthday celebration in more than a decade. I’ve been one of Jehovah’s Witnesses since I was 13 years old, so I never celebrated my birthday for a long time. Also, we’re poor, so my last birthday celebration was when I turned 5 years old. And I never tried birthdays even when I was allowed because I didn’t really have a lot of friends, so it was either me celebrating it alone, moping and crying about why I got no one even greeting me, or not celebrating it at all. It’s been one depressing hell of a ride, so this year really does feel like a grand celebration.

Boy in red shirt wearing silver chain necklace, surrounded by his friends that are blurred by the camera lens focusing on him.

My 5th birthday celebration attended by my classmates and two of my teachers. Everyone's blurred except me to protect their privacy.

When I was 11, my mother died from leukemia. Being the eldest son of three children in a Filipino family, I was expected to shoulder the responsibilities of being the eldest. I never got to process my emotions and I didn’t get to grieve properly. And all of that pent-up emotions and pressure came to a climax when I was 20, in my last year of college finishing my thesis. I got so many things going on, I was working on 5 different projects all at the same time, and there was also the fear that I may not graduate because of the damned thesis, plus I had to support my studies as well as my brothers’.

I remember just going to our school’s comfort room during one of the school events where I was the host and just breaking down in tears and I don’t even have a single idea what I am crying about. I was really depressed and was a walking time bomb ready to explode at any moment.

Now that we got that out of the way, I want to talk about the positives. After all, today’s my birthday, and birthdays are supposed to be celebrations. I am way past all of the struggles of the young me, I am at my prime right now, and this is the best I’ve felt in years. I signed up for a gym this year because I want to have that chiseled muscular body that I aspired to have since I was young, being gay and all. I also recently got into makeup, so I’m spending all the monetary gifts I received on makeup, I think. I also have the best job position so far in my career. I also live in a house that I pay for, and my family no longer goes hungry. There’s a ton of good stuff that’s happened since then that I am so proud that I have now. I am also deeply and madly in love with the best person to ever grace my mortal eyes. These are all part of what I want to celebrate for my birthday.


I think, right now, I don’t have anything big to wish for. Of course, there are material things, like how I wish to have a second 1920×1080 monitor, or to live in a house with a toilet that has flush and bidet, or to have either a drawing tablet or iPad so I could finally become the artist I always wanted to be. But aside from those, I just wish that everyone in my life right now would live healthily for the time being. I would be really bummed if one of my friends, or God forbid, one of my loved ones got sick or died, that would really ruin my day.

I also wish to have my traumas resolved. I know I am not perfect, but I also did not deserve all those pain, and I want to heal. Of course, healing takes time and effort, and I’m ready for that. I just wish it was as easy to heal as it was quick to have those pain inflicted on me. But hey, I’m still alive and breathing.

I also wish to just have peace. I know that it’s hard with the current situation, with the ongoing pandemic and the authorities acting like it’s magically gone, and with the Philippine government being run by incompetent corrupt politicians. But I cherish every bit of peace I get, every minute I can play Genshin Impact and read its lore, every minute I listen to Rina Sawayama and Lady Gaga, or every minute I listen to podcasts I love.

Pack it up, gays.

Birthdays are a great way to feel like the main character. I only have one day, so I’m gonna milk it to the bone. Expect me to be posting pictures and being generally loud today. Apologies. But yeah, if it’s your birthday too, happy birthday to you! I hope you enjoy your day with the people you love.

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