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26-Year-Old Confession: The Stone Pusher

Confession at 26: The Stone Pusher#

It is now June 6, 2023, and I am 26 years old. As I grow older, birthdays themselves no longer hold much ceremony or expectation for me. They simply serve as reminders that another year has passed. Since last year, I have decided to leave some words behind on my birthday and New Year's, as a way to account for the time that has passed.

In the past year, I have written 40 weekly reports, thinking that I have become accustomed to sharing my emotions. However, as I sit down to write, I still feel a sense of confusion, not knowing where to begin.

The events that happened in the second half of 2022 are detailed in the summary "Year-end Review 2022: Confusion, Low Point, and Change". Some of the changes I experienced this year have been mentioned in my intermittent weekly reports. I don't want to repeat or shy away from recalling those experiences. On this birthday, I just want to talk about life itself.

Just like how I try to assign a few keywords to each weekly report, I always want to give a theme to the traces of my past. After much thought, I have decided to name it "The Stone Pusher," inspired by the story of Sisyphus, who constantly pushes a boulder to the top of a mountain, only to watch it roll back down, in an endless cycle of effort, absurdity, and repetition.

Last year, I went through a breakup before my birthday. It was only after receiving birthday wishes that day that I remembered it was my birthday. I struggled to get up and replied to my friends' greetings. I recalled that I hadn't stepped out of my room for either a month or two. I chewed a few melatonin pills and continued into another sleepless night. Perhaps out of pity, a friend sent me flowers and a cake during the day. I had no appetite, but I managed to taste a bite before the end of my birthday. It was sweet but I couldn't swallow it.

Throughout the past year, people often asked me, "Have you moved on?" The question wasn't difficult, but I never knew how to answer.

Perhaps it was when I went to Hangzhou in July to relax, change my hair color, and meet friends that I decided to continue living. I filled my idle time with various courses and learning different technologies. My desire to share, which had nowhere to go, poured into blog articles and Twitter updates. At that time, I seemed to think that if I squeezed my time so tightly that I had no room for reminiscing, I would gradually be able to move on. After a few months, when I thought I could accept it, when I felt like I could slowly move forward on a new path, suddenly I remembered a small detail from the past, something I can't accurately describe even now. Everything went back to square one.

That's when I realized that I had been doing the same thing as Sisyphus, constantly pushing the boulder and watching everything collapse. Many things in the past year were like that.

In my rented apartment in Hangzhou, I have a potted plant. I don't know much about plants, but it should be an easy-to-care-for variety. It was a gift when I moved in and is placed in a prominent position. Because of remote work, I see it every day, but I don't seem to pay much attention to it. It wasn't until a friend from Beijing came to Hangzhou a few days ago and invited me to their home to play with their cat that I thought about tidying up a bit. That's when I noticed that many leaves had withered and the soil had dried up. As I was about to water it, I accidentally knocked it over, scattering soil all over the floor. It reminded me of a random thought I had written before.


Suddenly, my emotions hit rock bottom. I felt restless, oppressed, unable to calm down. "So much has been lost in this year, and any small death or collapse becomes unbearable." When I saw this sentence in a video by Lu Ge at the beginning of the year, I couldn't help but choke up. It perfectly described my situation. I also realized that I hadn't made much progress in accepting loss.

But life goes on, and the only thing I have truly learned this year is to "face life itself with authenticity."


I have a cute cat named Nienie.

Taking care of a cat alone has always been something that requires courage for me. After all, I feel like my standards for quality of life are probably lower than a cat's. But I still chose to be responsible for a new life companion. Although I worried about her not eating when she was sick and my hands trembled when I took her for spaying, I have experienced moments of worry. She accompanies me and often soothes my emotions, teaching me how to love.

Nienie has given me the courage to continue living.


During the six months I worked in Beijing last year, I had good friends, familiar colleagues, and a like-minded leader. They gave me a good amount of freedom, but I didn't see the expected growth in various aspects of myself, and I became increasingly confused about my direction. I was always busy to the point where I couldn't even take care of my own life. With the accumulation of such emotions, I decided to leave.

After returning to Hangzhou, my life and work became calm, simple, but not lacking in joy. I lived in my rented apartment with Nienie, each of us immersed in our own world. The remote work arrangement gave me more free time to participate in many fun activities. I went to Hong Kong to attend a concert by Mayday and went to Xi'an to have drinks and chat with roommates I hadn't seen in a long time. The good technical atmosphere allowed me to constantly explore new technology stacks and stay up all night to tackle a requirement or technical problem, something I hadn't done in a long time.

However, perhaps because it has been exactly one year since that darkest period last year, I have gradually found myself falling back into the cycle of the past in the past two months. Lack of sleep has become the norm, waking up at four or five in the morning. I have become socially isolated, often not leaving my house for a week or two. I feel inexplicably anxious, eager to change but unsure how to start, and frequently frustrated.

The past year has been difficult, and I am still often fragile and sensitive, still immersed in the emotions of the end of a relationship. I still haven't learned how to pick up my life again, still haven't made progress on many of the goals I set at the beginning of the year. Even though I have more time, I read and watch fewer books and movies. I stay up late every day, exhausted but unable to change. I still haven't become the ideal version of myself, still haven't found the meaning of life.

But this is life itself. It faces everyone with fairness and cruelty.

I am gradually learning not to complain, but to embrace it sincerely and passionately.

The boulder will always roll back, but when I wake up tomorrow morning, I will still have to push the boulder up.


Happy 26th birthday to myself.

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