Seeing as I now write for The Mighty and The Odyssey in addition to this quiet corner of mine, I’ll probably be cross-sharing more. Hopefully it’s not seen as laziness; if I write something, I now have three disjointed arenas I’m considering, and I’d like to try and have all my original work at a home base of sorts. Right now, that’s not very organized, but it’ll improve. So, without further delay:
A quote I see floating around on Pinterest frequently is “what screws us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it is supposed to be.”
I had a specific idea of how my life should be six months out from graduation. At the time, it seemed pretty realistic; I accounted for some struggles, but also assumed there’d be some successes and left space for “come what may.”
For instance, my new home didn’t have to be anything fancy, though I really wanted a porch or balcony and a cozy corner where me and and a dog can cuddle up with a book on a rainy day. I probably still have ten “what the hell am I doing” moments a day at my job, but love the people I work with and am making enough to cover my loan payments and complain when I can’t do something because of said loan payments. When I get a little overtime, I treat myself to some riding lessons and a deposit in a piggy bank designated “world travel.” I’ve probably made some friends whose company I genuinely enjoy, though still likely feel lonely or a little lost sometimes (and have already downloaded and deleted Tinder at least twice); but when a cute boy takes me on an honest-to-goodness date, and I come home and tell the mutt puppy I adopted about how much fun I had, I am wholly and completely in the moment and ready for whatever comes next.
Start going too far and it’s easy to see how you can get lost in it. What do you do when it’s not how you pictured?
You’re hella confused, first off. Especially if you supposedly followed the steps to get to the picture. AP classes in high school? Check. Plenty of activities and sports? Check. Accepted at a good in-state university? Yep. Graduate after being involved in more things than you can keep track of, a full-time internship, and with some honors? Check check. Then you’re angry – you put in the work, where’s your prize? Why did this turn out so differently? They say to begin with the end in mind, and you’re sure you did that; like that one frame on your wall that just won’t stay straight, you’ve dutifully tweaked and tilted it almost every day back to where it should be, and should stay.
One day you come home to find the whole thing on the floor, glass shattered and picture ripped and punctured in places. Where the frame used to be are all the additional holes and knicks made in an attempt to get the damn thing to just. stay. straight.
I’m realizing that while I was so concerned about keeping this frame of “how it should be” straight, I never considered that I could move it somewhere else or change the picture itself. Why do I let myself be constrained to this one picture in this one place?
“There’s no time like the present.”
When was the last time you just thought about yourself in this very moment? How about this one? And now? Have you moved since three moments ago? Been in the presence of other people? Checked your phone? Felt some sunshine? Felt cold?
If you’ve read this far, you’ll never go back to the exact moment when you started reading this. I’m not in the same moment as when I first started writing this, and actually this has turned out very differently than what I was expecting. For several days I was determined to write exactly what I had in mind, and I made zero progress. Frustrated, angry, and ready to say screw it because what am I even trying to say?
Then I deleted over half of this and decided to just write. Funny what happens when you decide you don’t need to be anything. I know I’m not the only back living at home, or the only one who’s health has derailed more than one plan. I know I’m not the only one who misses the comfort and vibrancy of my college town, finding myself wistfully scrolling through this feed or that of all the people still there. I know I’m not the only one who wonders if they’re a failure for not getting that first job break in spite of being fully qualified and “doing everything you were supposed to.”
So, what do you do when it’s not how you pictured? You decide if you want to leave the mess as it is and complain about it, or if you’re going to take what you can, clean up the rest, and start making something new. I’m making something new; no idea what it’ll turn out to be, nor do I want to know right now. The important thing is starting.