It's finally beginning to hit me that I'm almost a senior in college. Somewhere between picking fall semester classes for the last time and the realization that in a year from now I'll have (hopefully) gotten a real, adult job lined up, I started to feel nostalgic for all of the other milestones that have come and gone, come and gone. I'd like to think that I've learned a thing or two during my time here, but it's easy to get wrapped up in wondering if and how I would have done it all differently.
If I could do it all over again, what words would I have given to my younger self?
You're 18 years old. You think that that fact alone makes you hot sh*t, but it doesn't. You've spent the past six months crying in your car to AM by the Arctic Monkeys on shuffle and you love to sing "R U Mine" until your throat feels sore. Being 18 years old is like living under a magnifying glass in the hot sun, where every emotion is amplified a thousand times over until you can feel the blood boiling beneath your skin. It was okay, though, because being angsty back then was cool and you eventually found your way.
The best day that year was the one you spent in the city, moving him into his new apartment. Hanging around adults made you feel like one, too. You thought that reading Ernest Hemingway gave you a solid understanding of the world, even though most of the time you were too busy falling in love with the ideas of things than the reality of them. That day you spent an hour picking out the perfect thing to wear--back when your hair was still long enough to brush against your hip bones (he told you that he liked long hair, which is why you cut it all off three months later).
When you sat on the floor of that empty bedroom, you wanted to stop time and stay 18 and hopeful and naive forever. Soon you'd learn that even the best days come to an end and that the bad ones do, too. I wish that you hadn't been so afraid of change. It took some time, but better days did come.
HEART IT RACES
It's a couple of years later. The unrelenting freedom of summers spent by the pool and running around the neighborhood until mosquitos forced us indoors has been replaced by the stagnant, suffocating pressures of early adulthood--scooping ice cream and scrubbing floors with toothbrushes, anything to make a quick buck. You had your first internship that summer; you were supposed to be feeling excited about your future.
Today you can't get out of bed. It's not laziness or lack of sleep--it's anxiety, it's apathy, it's fear of inadequacy. Your rational side knows that today is just another eight-hour workday, like any other day, but still your heart pounds and your heart races and your inability to put a word to the feeling upsets you even more. Eventually you drag yourself through the shower and bring extra mascara for touch-ups. You have an amazingly unremarkable day at the office.
You should have known then that it was not normal to feel this way. Maybe you did know, but you were too afraid to admit it. I wish you could have known that once you asked for help, you'd feel a million times better. I wish you knew that someday you would feel a million times better.
You're almost a senior in college now. It took some time, but you've finally found yourself surrounded by the right people, and while your path is still uncertain you've learned that this is not necessarily a bad thing. You know how to settle into the uncomfortable and find your calm within the storm:
Now I hold my own hands in crowds
Of bands and my friends
Jan always says to me,
“You gotta be your own 3am”
You don't feel older or different; you're just completely, unapologetically you. Some days you go for a run, hand in an assignment, have lunch with that friend you haven't seen in a while, but had been meaning to meet up with--you feel like you can conquer the world (because obviously, you can). Other days, you hit "snooze" one too many times, and eat Chinese food in bed until your stomach hurts. You're better than 10:30 pm texts and feeling sorry for yourself and you've learned to feel home and grounded on your own. For the first time in a long time, you're excited for what's next.
Maybe in another year you'll look back and know why.