Maybe I’m just late to the game and you’ve all this epiphany before I did, but I’ve recently come to the realization that life is erratic and unpredictable and I’m not half as wise to the whole thing as I previously thought I was. It all seemed to make so much sense for a while.
In high school I had it all together. I was a good student. I was dedicated to my schoolwork and enjoyed learning and I graduated when I was sixteen. In addition to my academics, I spent hours and hours of each week in the dance studio learning technique and choreography, and through years of dancing I developed strength, poise and focus. I never was one of those kids surrounded with a bevy of people, but I guess I managed to be just funny and intelligent enough to gather a small group of close-knit friends that I was dedicated to and enjoyed spending time with. I graduated from high school and faced my first step into “adulthood” when I had to decide what direction I wanted to choose for my life. I remember my brother telling me that if I immediately enrolled in college I could be a doctor before I was 25 and I could make all my cousins jealous, but as tempting as that may seem, eight more years of school wasn’t enticing. Instead I decided to start learning accounting at my father’s company, and stay a non-matriculated student. Things settled down into a routine, and I had it easy. I was able to learn a lot of business skills, and I acquired a decent understanding of the French language. I went to a lot of different places. You learn a lot from traveling, especially when traveling on a budget and immersing yourself amongst the people and culture of a certain region, and I definitely matured from those experiences. But I didn’t learn as much as I thought. Leading up to 2011, I had a false sense of confidence and worldliness based on my adventures, and I thought I had it all figured out. In reality, I was enjoying life with barely any expenses (I was still living at home, so a car payment and cell phone bill were about it) and I continued trying new things, and traveling, and coming home to a secure job that I enjoyed. Then 2011 happened and my life wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops anymore (my reflection on the year is here). I started feeling overwhelmed and like I never had time to think. I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety on and off since I was very, very young, and I started having trouble sleeping again. After getting a raise at my job I decided to find a place in downtown Keene where I could have my own space and reflect on life a little bit. I moved the beginning of January into a sweet little apartment all by myself. No roommates, not even a goldfish.
There is something to waking up alone each morning and enjoying the habitual process of making a cup of coffee- something to arranging records and books and quirky mugs in a way that reflects you. But mostly there is something to solitude. It was a Sunday morning and I sat in my living room, reading my Bible as Wes Montgomery’s Day in the Life floated off my stereo. Then it hit me like a shot to the heart, (although it may have been obvious to you all along)- I am selfish as fuck. Yes, life is unpredictable. Yes, people are perplexing, annoying and time-consuming. Yes, boys are genetically wired to be too much work and simultaneously too much fun. Yes, I have no idea where life’s going to take me in the next year or so and it’s daunting. Yes, I have all these dreams and goals for my life and I’m twenty-two and still don’t know where to start. When I was in high school I was sure I would have it all figured out by the time I was this age. Instead, the only conclusion I’ve come to is that I know absolutely nothing and am utterly self-absorbed. You can’t learn all of life’s lessons by having your head buried in books, and even though Morrissey has a fair amount of wisdom, sometimes you have to turn off The Smiths. I’m good at reading, studying, and absorbing material, but I’m not as good at putting myself out on a ledge. I don't like to make myself vulnerable. I spend too much time thinking about what others will think of me, and that needs to stop. There are people that are not going to like me, there are people that are going to laugh at me, and that’s life. It’s time to step outside of my comfort zone so that I can actually help someone. I need to stop focusing on what people think of me and instead accept that mistakes will be made and things might get scary but I’m not a twenty-something living in the richest country in the world for nothing. It is time to stop spending so much time and money making myself a more “intelligent, happy, well-rounded” person and instead surrender time for some of the other 7 billion people that call this planet home. How do I ever expect to write a good story if I don’t live a good story? On a Sunday morning over coffee I realized there is only one thing I’m really sure of, it is time to adjust my focus.