I’m writing this during what is very likely my Last Kid Summer: you know, when summer is just a really long break between school and you wake up at ten in the morning and don’t go to sleep till two the next morning because you’re up all night talking to friends and playing games and just having fun, or something of the sort. When summer is just this collection of care-free days that you can do with what you will: no class, no big responsibilities. You can build castles in your spare time and create legends for a living.
Ok. Maybe I’m over-romanticizing it. Most of us these days send summer working to have enough to keep going to school the next semester. But those jobs, they’re in-between jobs, or considered that way for a lot of people. We’re working to something bigger, we think, some sort of dream.
In less than a year, I’m going to have to enter the real world. Not that the world I’ve been in for the past two decades hasn’t been real, but soon I’m going to have to find a proper job, maybe move, settle myself in a different world and life. Or maybe I’ll go to grad school, or travel, or something I can’t even imagine right now.
I’m stuck in this conflict where I am both an adult and a kid at the same time. At family gatherings, I’m really the only one of my age. Aunts and uncles and cousins ask me how school is, do I have an internship, what do I want to do with my life, and then leave me be. I honestly might as well be there for fifteen minutes and then leave, because I’m sitting there the rest of the time by myself anyway: everyone goes on to have Proper Adult Conversations or Did You Hear About that Sport Thing, and I’m just taking up space in a chair somewhere among that. I can’t even strike up a conversation with cousins who aren’t more than six years older than me: it’s awkward and stiff, like shitty water cooler conversations in an office. “Gee, nice weather we have!” we painfully agree, both wishing we were somewhere else entirely.
On vacation, I was shopping with my parents when the clerk—who had to maybe be in his early thirties, if not younger—noticed the DuckTales shirt that I was wearing and remarked that it was cool to see “someone so young, younger than [him], appreciating that stuff”. Apparently despite being 20, I still look 12 or so. It’s a blast, let me tell you.
I want to be independent but I’m terrified of it. I want to move away from home but I’m afraid I’m gonna get lost and I won’t be able to find my way back.
What I’m getting at here, and I know this is poorly constructed and I’m rambling to high heaven, is that I feel like I’m supposed to be something by now and I’m not. I’m still a kid, sitting on her bed drawing comics about bunnies and thinking she knows something deeper about the world as she turns on some crummy alternative music and stereotypically contemplates futility or some shit.
And I know that’s not true. I know there’s no time limit, there’s no magic hourglass that says you have to be successful by this point and if you’re not, then suddenly the carriage turns back into a pumpkin and you’re standing in a field in rags wondering what the hell happened. There’s nothing that says that I can go through four years of college studying animation and then realize two years later that it’s not actually my thing. There’s nothing that says that you’re stuck in once place after you get your degree and you can’t do anything else with your life except that after you graduate.
I need that printed out at pasted on my ceiling. I need a reminder that if it seems like someone is established in their field overnight, that’s because they worked their ass off for god knows how many years before then, and no one saw it.
I can’t compare the foundation of my house to someone else’s finished mansion. That’s just not fair, to me, to them, to anyone.
I’m a chronic worrier though. It’s gotten better, but some days it just crushes on me like that one Greek guy who has to roll a rock up a hill for eternity in hell. I can’t remember his name, but you know the one. But sometimes, you get really close of getting it to the top of the hill again, and it’s easy and effortless, and you think you’ll never have to roll that rock up the hill for another day.
Then the next day the rock careens back down the hill, landing to rest firmly on top of you, and it’s a hundred times heavier than it was the day before, and try as you might, you just can’t get it to budge.
Sisyphus? Was that the guy? I could look it up, but eh.
The important thing is that you have to keep pushing the rock, no matter how heavy it is or how tired you are. Keep creating. Keep doing the thing you are passionate about and getting better at it. It’s gonna be hard. There are days where you don’t want to, days you wish you could just let the rock sit on top of you for the rest of your life. Those days suck big time, believe me. The fear of the future becomes a paralysis. You spend years worrying about it and then suddenly it’s here, and you don’t feel any better prepared for it than you did when you graduated high school.
But worrying…worrying just means you care. So it means you gotta keep walking up that hill, rock, future, and Hades be damned.
Because once you realize that no one else knows what the hell they’re doing too, pushing that rock because a lot easier.