Here’s a secret. I used to make my dad drive me to Staples every new semester to buy white poster paper and new markers. Then, I would mark up the entire poster with my “plan” for self-improvement. Color coded with categories like spiritual, mental, emotional, financial, and career. I would include inspirational quotes from my favorite books and people I looked up to. I used to have collages or “mood boards” in my room until I impulsively decided to rip them off my walls and throw them away.
I was just never satisfied. Every semester, I wasn’t enough. I improved, but I was not where I wanted to be. These “plans” changed so often, that I feel like my identity is hard to grasp. I feel like play-doh, easily changed. I’m naturally introverted, but people who meet me now tell me I’m one of the most extroverted people they’ve ever met. I have anxiety, but people who I’ve just met tell me they can’t tell. I hate taking risks, but I’ve been called wild and daring. I’ve changed so much these past four years, that sometimes I don’t even recognize myself. It’s not a bad thing to change, but it’s good to ask why and what it’s all for. I'm still trying to figure it out.
Today, I finally felt like myself. I feel like myself when I listen to sad music, write short stories that I never show anyone, and eat sushi in bed (ignoring the world.) I don’t remember the last time I did that. I’ve been going out almost every night, surrounded by people constantly. I felt anxious every time I’ve been alone. For the past few months, I’ve been so fixated on school and my Indiegogo campaign that I haven’t had the time to just think. College became such a blur, then it ended. Some people like that, though. They like replacing bad memories with new ones right away, numbing pain and sadness with novel experiences and people. Why be sad when you don’t have to? This time, though. I’m not sad. I feel nothing. I feel like someone pressed the refresh button on the Internet history that is my life. And now, there’s nothing, A blank state.
I try not to regret anything in my life, but here are some things I’ve learned in college that I could've benefitted from knowing before..
Nothing is permanent. Frida Kahlo once said, “Nothing is absolute. Everything changes, everything moves, everything revolves, everything flies and goes away…” That made my heart sink. It’s a hard pill to swallow. That everyone I want to hold onto forever and ever might not even be in my life in a few months. Or in a year. That the people I’ve felt the closest to in the past are now people I never speak to. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing, it’s just life. True love or friendship doesn’t undoubtedly have to be forever, it merely has to be authentic enough for you to know that the memories won’t disappear, that the affection you have for each other at that moment are real regardless of what the future brings.
It is only when we no longer obsessively need someone that we can have true relationships with them. You could love someone so much and they can still not be the right person for you. Maybe just not now. Maybe forever. You think if more time passes, they’ll see how wonderful you are and realize that you were who they were meant for all along. That’s not how it works, that’s not how life works, and that’s not how God works. And you think you’re not good enough. But that’s not true. You were always wonderful, you were always enough. You can’t be obsessed with people. I’ve learned that the people who I let go are always the ones that come back. And sometimes when they come back, you might not even need them there anymore.
You are somebody even if you don’t meet society’s standards of who and where you should be. If you don’t want the 9-5, don’t want the same job that everyone in your major or school wants, there’s nothing wrong with you. If you haven’t found love yet and it feels like everyone around you is about to get married, there’s nothing wrong with you. Stop thinking that. It’s just not the right time or just not the right path. I’ve spent so much time feeling jealous when my friends got jobs and internships that I got rejected from, only to realize that I never even wanted to work there in the first place. That even if I got it, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it anyway. Everything you need will come to you, and all the things you want might not be what’s best for you.
You’re not running out of time. You might not have it figured out. You might feel like you’re falling behind. Well, I don’t have it all figured out and I just graduated. All the people at USC graduation with all the medals might seem like they do, but they don’t either. Maybe that’s what makes life beautiful, anyway. That at any moment, things can change course to something that’s better for you. It’s like when the Lyft app updates you to a newer driver that’s closer so you don’t have to wait longer. Well, maybe that wasn’t a good metaphor. I was just trying to say sometimes the updated route is better for you in the long run. Timelines are stupid. We still have time. Life is about more about exploring what you like and dislike than having a plan. Take things day by day.