This is something I feel strongly about, but isn't exactly private either. I'd also love to hear your experiences and opinions.
I'm not "grown up" quite yet, at least I don't feel like it. I'm in that awkward phase where I could drive across the country and start a new life if I wanted, even though I have one still ahead of me here. I struggle with school work, but I also struggle with loved ones. I've talked friends out of suicide yet sometimes I've found myself in that position as well. and I can't tell what I want. I don't know what I want to be, I don't even know if I can handle living the "conventional" life it seems I was born into. Maybe I've having a "mid-teen (age 16-19)" crisis, but it really seems like I've felt this way as long as I could form thoughts that stuck around. I want to see the world, not for it's tourist traps and exaggerated representations of reality, but for it's people. People are so magical with our social interactions and our emotions. Without humans, the earth would still be extraordinarily complex, but significantly less so. Sure, you've got your 5,415 species of mammals, the tens of thousands of plants, and so on; but you don't have anything as complex as the feeling of being cheated on, the feeling of being with friends, the feeling of having too much work to do and hating your job, the euphoria of sex (although dolphins would still be around for this), or the feeling of achieving something great, knowing you did something to change the world for millions.
Then I always remember, even if everyone suddenly stopped giving birth, and you somehow were able to meet one new person per second, it would still take TWO HUNDRED AND TWENTY ONE years to meet them all. Well beyond your lifetime. Not to mention theirs, as this is assuming no one dies anymore either. After all, your life is just one in seven billion. Whatever joy you feel, pain you endure, it's only one in seven billion.
That makes me infinitely sad.
Then I remember this and I get even more sad.
And as a result, I feel lost. I don't know how something so insignificant as the human life, specifically my human life, can result in happiness.
So many people I'll never meet, I really just want to get out there and start meeting them now! Instead, I have to think about College, then getting a Job, then maybe get into a mutually-beneficial relationship with no love involved, then I'll never have time to meet my old friends (if I still remember them), and so on. Wording it that way, it makes me wonder why we don't wish for an earlier death.
So sorry, I don't know what I want to be when I grow up :(
And sorry for being so depressing.
What I can give however, is my biggest fear of "growing up", although it is just as depressing, if not more, than what I wrote above.
It's how weak the human capacity for thought and memories is. Hit your head too hard, and you're a completely different person. If you're really unlucky, you may just go crazy. I know this having talked to too many people who've had TBIs. The former comment about going crazy is a reference to this NFL player who killed himself, leaving a note mentioning how much he felt he'd gone mad from all the head trauma, and begging the NFL to improve helmet design so the pain he'd gone through doesn't ever happen again to anyone else... It's an extremely sad story.
Everything that makes us, well, US, is as fragile as muscle memory and a few synapses in the brain.
Everything we know, every skill we have, the knowledge of everyone we've ever loved and the love we've felt for them, all of it is one bump away from being gone forever. In fact, even decision making isn't the result of your "soul". Maybe some of you once decided to divorce your SO, or maybe you once had to decide whether to keep a loved on on life support. Well, those decisions did not come from the heart. They came from the knowledge and experiences of our life UP TO THAT POINT, and that knowledge and experience ONLY. With that in mind, it makes me realize, that no one is truly evil. Sure no one is good either, but it still is comforting knowing every man or woman who has ever hurt me, hurt you, or hurt anyone only did so out of their nature and their nurture. It was bound to happen, because the universe is just an infinitely complex chain of causes and effects.
Most of the time it doesn't even take a bump. Guess what, ageing also does that to you. That's why I'm so afraid of "growing up". It's hard enough to accept that we'll, say, never be children again, or how we'll never re-experience playground adventures or our first kiss (here's some comedic relief; want to know something embarrassing? I've yet to have mine.. :P) but let alone the thought that said memories of the experiences are just as fleeting!
Then what? We die? The end? That can't be all there is to life right? Everyday, this seems more and more to be the truth though.
Maybe I have more reason to be scared, maybe I'm just paranoid. Once when I was very young (under ten years old), I was on a trip with my parents in Mexico. It was my first time out of country, and from what I remember it was super fun! However, saying "from what I remember" isn't just for dramatic effect, or that it was a long time ago. It was also because I had my first and only TBI myself while on this trip. My Dad took me on a ride along as he played golf, and decided to take a shortcut to the next hole. Now, I love my dad and all, but this was one of his worst ideas. He took the golf cart to a hill that was extremely steep and drove HORIZONTALLY on it. Aaaaaaaand... it flipped. Aaaaaaaaand, my head cracked open.
Well, kids heal right? I healed right? I think I did, but almost all my life, I've suffered from severe OCD, depression, and social anxiety. It was never a huge problem for me, as with the help of therapy at a young age and meds to this day I live (what I assume) is an entirely normal life. What worries me is that none of those illnesses run in my family. None of those plagued me before my injury either.
And some days, when I forget to take my SSRIs, the fear returns that I ought to do all I can now to enjoy life because one day I'll find myself psychotic, not knowing reality from hallucinations.
Some other days, I worry I already am. Maybe you guys don't exist, maybe you do and you guys are all laughing at me behind my back, maybe everyone else is plotting against me to make my life as miserable as can be, maybe maybe maybe maybe.
I take my meds and everything is fine again, but it's all too scary for me.
Some people worry about their legacy. I'm still here wondering what to even do with my life.
Wow, geez sorry for writing all that out but.. wow.
I'd love to become a bartender (or so I think). I'd love a job where I can alter my appearance any way I want, cover myself with tattoos if I want, and no one bats an eye. Right now I want a lip piercing but I know it's not a viable option in this job, in this company, in this industry. That's okay. But I still think I'd rock it.
I've thought about what it would be like if I were a dude. If I were a dude, I'd be a DICK. I really don't think I'd be a nice person if I was dude although if I was a dude from birth I'd be a totally different person so I don't really know, you know? Like maybe all the ways I would take advantage of people if I were a dude are in part due to my frustrations of being a lil lady in a man's world and the giant chip on my shoulder I've had at various times in my life as a result of that. (Chip currently small and adorable. Chip not adorable when it is giant. Smallness of chip a good thing. We must accept who we are in life. And while it is interesting to think about being a dude, I'm not interested in trying to become a dude.) I think I'd be a jerk and I think I'd mostly be a jerk to those of the female persuasion. It's always nice to think you'd be a player in theoreticals, though, right? Who knows? Maybe I would have been a really awkward dude. ANYWAY, it's all fun and games to think about. I find it interesting that you, not-pablo, would be interested in becoming a minority against which there are many and deep-seated prejudices (although you may already be a minority or a double-minority or anything, really)! My choice would be the opposite: GIVE ME ALL THE PRIVILEGE. I RESENT NOT HAVING THE PRIVILEGE. I WANT IT, NOW. (But I like being a lady. Being a lady can be pretty tits in some regard. Go ahead, take it literally.)
Who am I going to be next? Hopefully someone with less debt and who gets a decent score on the GMATs and who can go and get her MBA. Is an MBA my passion? No, but I think it'll be a challenge and it'll increase my marketability. It's a wise/smart choice, in other words. Plus I like school. I like to be challenged. I guess the MBA is my 5-year plan. My boring, Real Life, Real Job, Decisions That Aren't Always Fun But Are Good plan. (My yearly bonus? Going towards debt and savings this year. wooooooooooooooooonotreallywoo at all.)
- Who would you wish you were if you could start over, start again, start from the beginning?
As some of you may have noticed I don't usually spend time thinking about this sort of thing. I view the past as the past, irrevocable and unchangeable. I much prefer to look at who I am now and say "Do I like who I am now? Yes? (On good days, pretty damn much?) Well great. Everything that's ever happened to me, that's made me into who I am, even and especially the shitty stuff. So I wouldn't change a thing." So this is hard for me to answer. I wouldn't unwish any of the difficulty I've had in my life; it would literally make me less of a person. I wouldn't unwish the way my parents raised me, even though it made me weird and left me with some hang-ups and issues. ("They fuck you up, your mom and dad.") I mean, like it'd be great if I was born into a rich family and never had to work a day in my life but then I'd be a brat. I don't want to be a brat.
I wish I had worked in the service industry at some point. I could get a second job and do so but it would seriously impinge upon all the nice perks that my corporate job enables me to have. Which is why I like my corporate job. I think working in the service industry gives you a different and valuable perspective on humanity as a whole. I think it's important.
In the highly-theoretically, "this is my dream" sort of world. I would be getting my MFA in poetry. At a well-regarded institute where I was good enough not to have to pay. (Scholarships.) I'd be a lot more secure in my poetic skill and GOD DAMN IT I'd hear back on my poetry submissions on a fucking TIMELY BASIS. I would be able to get by somehow on poetry and some kind of flexible job like a lot of my peers, even though the pay is shit and there aren't any benefits. I'd be an "artist" emphasis on the "douche" - I mean "tist."
Or I would have followed up on that job on the hydroponics farm in Hawaii. (Who knows if I would have been happy there though? I would have been lonely. It is expensive in Hawaii, too.)
Oh, those, those are just some thoughts. I'd be writing. For my job and it would pay. I wouldn't have to be famous but known, by some people, that would be nice. A book published instead of an on-going "Hey will you illustrate my book for me so I can self-publish? Oh you'll only do it if there's a potential romantic relationship between us? Well damn." (I can't entirely blame this person for that, really. It's not like I was offering to pay him. He liked my poetry book, he was looking for inspiration, I said you know what if you illustrate it I'll put it up on Amazon under both our names and we'll both get some publicity. We stopped seeing each other and I think he was a little mad at me. His response is actually entirely reasonable. But it's one plan that's not going to happen for me, and by damn I liked his art style and thought it was perfect.)
So many of my dreams and desires and futures are nebulous. Is that a bad thing? Am I not driven enough towards goals and futures? Or am I just not attached to them/what happens? I "have world enough, and time." Or that's how it feels.
You know something weird? The first part of your post, about the practically infinite numbers of people out there, the limitless encounters we can all have with each other, the uniqueness we bring to this planet? That makes me so happy. Not sad, not even close. Almost euphoric. In the same way I can't handle thinking about the space beyond space, I really can't even imagine all these people and their fascinating lives, and thank god I can't. I'm glad there's always more going on, no matter how bad (or even good!) things are around me. The collective of humanity is the most fascinating thing ever; I hope you can sort of see my point of view. People are magical -- so celebrate the ones you know and will know, don't mourn the ones you'll never meet.
Can I share a semi-relevant poem I wrote once? Fuck it, I'm sharing a poem.
Their conversations so varied are lost to my hearing as they turn distant corners
So in my mind I tell their stories for them
Across the street a sad-faced foreign man selling gyros from behind a shadow
He won't make it in time to tuck his children into bed tonight -- he never does
Perhaps he won't go home at all, just wander the damp streets lost in dreams
On my left a bored policeman, existing only for tourists' pictures
I don't like his smile, his shifty, sweating smile -- he won't meet my eyes
He knows he isn't doing his job but can't admit it to himself
By my side a platinum lady, in heels and clingingly sequined, laughing too much
I don't know what she's laughing about -- what the world is laughing about
Maybe I'm not in on the secret because I haven't had enough to drink
I continue through the lavish square, such a grand dichotomy of lifestyles
It makes for interesting stories -- to me
I imagine what it means to the people I pass
To the street vendor, it means a childhood spent barefoot among the alleyways
To the officer, the constant possibility of action -- and failure
To the stumbling socialite, selfish in her youth, it means nothing
To me? stories, material, memories ... the children of my mind
This is gonna be one of my rare longer posts, I think.
When I was flying back from Hong Kong, we had a transfer on Dubai and had to wait a couple of hours. Everyone had just had a long 8 hour flight and the foresight of 6 more hours in the steel cage that is long-distance flight meant that everyone felt tired. It was in that foggy moment that one of the teachers, probably twice my age, asked two questions that I've been thinking about lately.
"How did you stay so interested and active all week, veen" and "what are your ambitions?"
The first question surprised me. Looking back, I was always active. I've been running around a world city for a week, only releasing my fatigue when my bed was in sight. Why shouldn't I? Spending a week in an amazing place halfway across the world, if that doesn't give you energy I don't know what will. Similar to that Bill Watterson quote from a few days ago: the mind is like a car battery, it recharges while running.
But then it struck me: I was one of the few who enjoyed all of it.
For instance, on one of the last evenings I got some people to join me to go to Mong Kok. The neighbourhood was a festival of neon / led lights, busy beyond measure and as lively as it gets. We got some dinner in one of the small, family-owned restaurants there. I enjoyed the fuck out of that. Not just the first half hour, like most of my peers. They liked what they were seeing as much as I was, no doubt about that, but it was a state of wonder that faded away. No, I wanted to enjoy every moment because I knew it was a unique experience. I might never see this again, at least not this way.
And I think the same goes for life in general. It's a unique experience, and I want to make the best of it. I want to be interested, fascinated, enthralled, because I know it won't last. And it gives me more energy to enjoy life, to have amazing experiences.
Maybe the difference between myself and my peers was a strong sense of appreciation. I asked one of the others what they thought of the city. He said that it had become normal rather quickly. I understand him, it's in human nature to adapt quickly to new environments. I purposefully resisted that urge, giving myself a mental slap in the face every now and then: you're on the other side of the world looking at a vastly different way of living and enjoying, look around and enjoy it! I couldn't have enjoyed it if I didn't continuously realize how interesting and amazing it all was.
The same goes for my 'regular' life here. But it's much harder to appreciate it all, as it seems so normal to me. Yet I could barely be more happy than I am now. I study in the field that I like, enjoy an honorary programme for some more challenging courses, have multiple great groups of friends and live in a nice apartment.
But back to the airport. While the first question was asked to me, the second one he asked to the group. Some of them shrugged. Most of them didn't really have a plan but a short term one. Improvising their way through life. It is a very practical approach, but not one that gets you very far, I think.
Daniel Burham, the American urban planner, once said graciously:
Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized.
Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die,
but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever growing insistency.
So I want to become the best version of myself that is possible. I want to make the large amount of years that lie before me the best that I can. Every year a better than the last. While I know that is influenced by tons of factors outside of my control, it doesn't stop me from chasing every opportunity on my path.