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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 significance or anticipation for me. They simply serve as reminders that another year has passed. Since last year, I have decided to write some words on my birthday and New Year's Eve, as a way to account for the time that has passed.

In the past year, I have written 40 weekly reports, and I thought I had gotten used to sharing my emotions. However, as I sit down to write, I still feel a bit dazed and unsure of where to begin.

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

Just like how I try to assign keywords to my weekly reports, 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. After receiving birthday wishes that day, I realized that my birthday had already arrived. I struggled to get up and replied to my friends' greetings. I recalled that I hadn't stepped out of my house for either a month or two. I chewed a few melatonin tablets and continued into another sleepless night. Perhaps because I was pitiful, 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 hard to swallow.

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

Maybe it was from July when I went to Hangzhou to relax, change my hair color, and meet friends. That was when I decided to continue living, right? I used all my free time to take various courses and learn different skills. My desire to share, which had nowhere to go, poured into blog articles and Twitter updates. At that time, I seemed to think that as long as I squeezed my time so tightly that I had no room for reminiscing, I could gradually 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 thing 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, only to watch 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's probably an easy-to-care-for variety. It was a gift when I moved in, placed in a prominent spot. Since I work remotely, I see it every day, but I never 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 decided to tidy 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 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 was the most fitting description. I 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 think my standards for quality of life may not even match those of a cat. But I still chose to be responsible for a new life companion. Although I worried when she got sick and couldn't eat, and my hands trembled when I took her for spaying, I have experienced moments of worry. But she has been there for me, often soothing my emotions and teaching me how to love.

Nienie has given me the courage to continue living.


During the past six months of work in Beijing last year, I had good friends, familiar colleagues, and a like-minded leader. I had a good degree of freedom, but I didn't see the growth I expected in various aspects of myself. I became increasingly confused about my direction, but I was always too busy to even take care of my own life. As the accumulated emotions grew, I decided to leave.

After returning to Hangzhou, my life and work became calm, simple, but not without joy. I lived in my rented apartment with Nienie, each of us immersed in our own world. The remote work setup 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 drink and chat with old roommates whom I hadn't seen in a long time. The good technical atmosphere allowed me to constantly explore new technologies and stay up all night to tackle a problem or requirement.

However, maybe because it has been exactly a year since that dark period last year, I 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 one or two weeks. I feel inexplicably anxious, eager to change but unsure of how to start, and constantly facing setbacks.

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. Many of the goals I set at the beginning of the year have made little progress. Even though I have more time, I read fewer books and watch fewer movies. I still stay up late every day, exhausted but unable to change. I still haven't become the ideal version of myself, and I still haven't found the meaning of life.

But that's life itself. It faces everyone with fairness and cruelty.

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

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


Happy birthday to my 26-year-old self.

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