I found it funny how, as a child, I would often struggle with simple multiplication.

Granted, I was four years old, and the concept was just taught to me in kindergarten. But the other kids were quick to understand it, and I could feel the mounting pressure of being the only one who could not comprehend it yet. What is considered a simple concept to an average high schooler was an intricate process that made my four-year old mind want to explode. What made the whole situation worse was how I could not even make it past three times six.

Luckily, through my father’s determined coaching—and a little bit of pattern recognition—I was able to memorize almost all of the possible combinations from one to ten in a week. Despite my struggle, I endured.

Yet not everyone struggles with the same thing. One can excel at one thing, while the other might not be as adept at it. Comparing my own struggles now to that of when I was four years old, they almost seem silly: three times six pales in comparison to solving a differential equation.

From balancing my academic duties with work and relationships, I find it amazing how the kid who could not even multiply past three times six is now facing complicated math problems that require the transformation of simple equations into its respective
complex forms.

It is also a bittersweet feeling knowing that the simple days of my youth are now over. Admittedly, I tend to long for those silly moments, but my past self would have never expected that my childhood memories are the ones I would cherish the most—a probable coping mechanism when facing a world full of complex concepts. What I would do just to go back in time and relive the past.

And honestly, I feel like a lot of us feel the same way.

I caught up with old friends from my high school days. Tired and sleepy, they would share how stressed they are from all their course requirements. Bogged down with tests and responsibilities, they are facing the same problem I am right now, which is trying to balance it all.

I recall a time when one of the biggest problems my friend had to face was his extremely tacky haircut. Convinced to try out the barbershop’s promotion, he was left with regret when his hair came out looking like a rooster’s coxcomb. Greeted with laughter, we made him feel like his one shot at the ladies was gone forever. Four months in, his hair grew back. He—pettily—endured.

That “world-ending” problem he experienced in the past is now but a silly moment he recalls with fondness. Now he carries a physics textbook and he sometimes longs for the time when a haircut was his biggest problem.

A part of me agrees with him—I do miss my youth. But I realize that if we continue to hang on to our memories, never moving forward, we wouldn’t be able to learn anything new. My youth will always be something I am grateful for. The world is constantly changing, and we must move forward with it.

This makes me realize that despite my current burdens, I probably won’t think much of them in the future. Perhaps it is not about continuing on the path of least resistance—maybe it’s about enduring, accepting the embarrassment, and learning from it all.

Instead of letting the memories of our youth be a justification for why things were better back then, let them guide us to the future we want.

My future self may look back on this article and smile at the problems my current self is experiencing right now. He might laugh and wish he could have told himself to worry less. But above all, I think he will be proud that, despite his struggles, he endured.

And you will, too.

By Enrico Sebastian Salazar

Leave a Reply