We Are All Afraid

Here’s the thing about life that no one will tell you: we’re all afraid.

All of us. Think of the bravest, strongest person you can possibly think of: that person is afraid. That person was most likely afraid when they did whatever it is they did to make them earn that title in your mind.

Because this world is a huge and terrifying place, filled to the brim with uncertainty. You can never know if the decision that you’re making is the right one or not. You can never know if it will all turn out all right in the end, because you simply aren’t at the end yet. Maybe you will fuck up. In fact, chances are, you will, at one point in your life or another. Life is hard, and it is filled with dangers and failures and pain, and we cannot avoid it altogether.

So of course we’re afraid.

And yet, we console ourselves with stories of bravery. With this idea that there are people in this world who are made differently from us, people who are capable of amazing feats because they just don’t feel fear. They smile in the face of adversity and they think it’s cute. They think it’s beneath them. They overcome any obstacle because they are different. They are courageous. And we aren’t like them, but at least we can rest easy knowing that those people exist.

Right?

Well, no. That just isn’t how the world works. It might have been when we were children, but things aren’t quite so simple now. The world is not split into heroes and cowards, or people who don’t feel fear and people who do.

Because, as I said, we are all afraid. Every single one of us.

The people who accomplish amazing feats are not made different from us. They are not more than human, they do not feel any more or less than we do. They’re just people. People who were positively terrified to do something at one point or another, and yet they did it. It mattered enough to them that they valued it higher than their fear.

Filled with terror and uncertainty, these people who we look up to and tell stories about marched on, and eventually, it became easier for them to do it. Their fear, which assaulted them daily at first, simply became background noise, and they simply became accustomed to this as their life. And they were afraid. Of course they were afraid, but they didn’t allow that fear to stop them from doing what they wanted. They controlled their fear.

Because courage does not come from a lack of fear, but from the ability to move forward despite it.

And of course, not all of them succeeded. Not all of us are going to succeed, but that’s not why we do things. We do things because they matter, because they are important to us. This world is too uncertain, too vast and endless, for us to know the outcome before it happens. But if we don’t at least try, then we know with absolute certainty that we will never succeed. We give up on what we want entirely from the moment that we decide to let fear get in the way.

The only action that creates certainty is giving up and giving in. Trying puts us in a place of uncertainty, where we may fail, or we may get exactly what we want. And yes, that thought is scary, but it is also worth the battle.

It is worth defying your fear and becoming that person who is thought of as extraordinary.

 

 

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This Is Not Your Life Forever

I’m not going to lie: I’m not entirely where I want to be right now. But, to be fair, I’m twenty-two years old; how many people my age are?

Right now, I’m still living with my parents, but I have my eye on a cheap apartment in the town where I actually want to live, the town where all my friends live and where I actually stand a chance of getting the sort of job that I want. However, I cannot currently afford aforementioned cheap apartment after four years dedicated to university, and so I’m working retail jobs until I can. I’m single, I don’t have a lot of friends that I see on a regular basis, and I’m not very good at making new friends. All of this sort of adds up to a general feeling of “meh” about where I am right now.

And I know I’m not alone in this.

There are a lot of people out there who aren’t exactly where they’d like to be. A lot of young adults, still trying to figure out what sort of life they want to live and how they can achieve it, as well as a lot of older adults who really don’t feel “settled” yet. To be honest, it’s sort of a human condition, because very few of us are lucky enough to be born directly into the place where we want to be.

We all have goals we want to achieve.

We all want to find ourselves and become comfortable in our identities.

We all have places we want to go, things we want to see, stuff we want to do.

And sometimes, when we’re stuck in that place where we don’t want to be for long enough, it becomes easy to think that you’re going to be there forever.

It’s easy to lose hope, and to think that the things that you want are never going to come to you – either because you aren’t good enough or strong enough to get it, or because the whole cause feels hopeless.

But here’s the thing: you aren’t at the end of the race yet.

After all, change is the only constant in life. And maybe it won’t always be the change that you expect, but it will be change nonetheless. A year from now, you will be an entirely different person. Ten years from now, you will have an entirely different life, hopefully a life that you’re more satisfied with.

And I know, change takes a long time to come. It can be frustrating sometimes, it can be disheartening, but where you are now is not where you will always be. Time passes slowly, but it passes, and it brings with it many beautiful things. It brings with it your dreams, a new love, new friends, new family. It brings with it an endless array of possibilities, so many that you can’t even imagine them all now.

So don’t get stuck in today. Don’t keep dwelling in this idea that this is your life, this is forever, because it isn’t. People come and go. Dreams come true and evolve into new dreams. And along the way, even in times where you are not satisfied, there are still many things that should not be taken for granted.

I may not be satisfied living in my parent’s house, but at least I have a place to stay. There are too many people out there who cannot say that, and I know that I am incredibly privileged to be able to. I may not currently have the life or job that I want, but I have the means to work toward it. I am grateful for that.

And though I don’t know what your circumstance is, whatever it is, I am sure that you can think of something in it that makes it at least bearable for now.

That’s a problem with being dissatisfied with today; you run the risk of taking things for granted. It’s not the only problem, of course – just a problem.

Enjoy life while you can, but keep working toward the life you want. Stop and smell the roses, and then charge ever forward. But whatever you do, do not give into despair. Do not give up. Your life can be exactly what you want it to be, just so long as you do not give up hope.

What I Am Going to Be

I have a picture in my head of what I’m going to be.

I’m going to be big. Not too big – I’m not going to be talked about hundreds of years from now like Shakespeare or anything. I’m not going to last long enough for people to start arguing about whether or not I actually existed. But still, there will be people who will know my name, people who I haven’t met before. That would be enough for me.

I’m going to be stable, and I’m going to land my dream job, and I’m going to be satisfied with it. I’m not going to go home after a long day at work and feel like nothing I did mattered, or like it was all just a big waste of time. No, I’m going to change people’s lives. I’m going to make a difference in this world.

I’m going to be happy. I don’t entirely know how yet, but when I look into my future, I see it. I see me, fifty years old, smiling and serene and satisfied with my lot, proud of my past self for not giving up. I’m going to have a system of support around me – friends, colleagues, a partner maybe (if I get really crazy with the happiness).

In short, I’m going to be okay. I see it. I feel it there, just there, just beyond my reach, and if I just keep trying, just keep reaching for what I want, I know I can get there, I can, it’s just…

It’s hard.

It’s hard to remain convinced that what I see is real, it’s achievable. I can get everything I want if I just keep trying. I mean, it’s not like I’m going to spend all my life trying and trying and trying, and it’s never enough, no matter what I do, because regardless of persistence or resilience or talent, I just wasn’t born in the right place, to the right family, knowing the right people. That would never happen.

Right?

But at the end of the day, do my doubts even matter? Because, hell, maybe my doubts are correct. Maybe my vision of the future is a lie that I tell myself to make these meaningless work days go by a little bit faster, these constant rejections feel a little less final. But either way, I think I need to live as though this vision of the future is real. I need to pretend that I can be big and stable and happy, so long as I just keep trying. Because at the end of the day, I know that I can’t give up now. If I give up, then that vision of the future is guaranteed to be a lie. If I keep trying, then how can I know for sure?

So I’ll keep trying. And I’ll keep telling myself that that picture in my head is what I am going to be. Because that’s what I want. More than anything in this world, that is what I want.

Future Planning: Why I Want to Be a Graduate Student

In my four years at university, I heard the same story told over and over again.

“I didn’t intend to go to graduate school,” they always said. “I was just going to get my bachelors, and then I was going to go out into the world and work, so that’s what I did. I graduated and I got a job, and I absolutely hated it. I hated the nine to five lifestyle. I hated how tedious it all was, how monotonous and unending. I felt like a machine, like a lifeless robot doing the same task over and over and over again, day after day. So I decided not to do that anymore. I decided that I was going to go back to school and continue my studies, and I was going to do something more with my life. I was going to think. I was going to be challenged.”

The first time that I heard this story, I was in first year, and all I could think was, yeah, you were most certainly being challenged. You were working your ass off for six to eight years, and that is a goddamn long time to be in school. The last time that I heard this story, I was in fourth year, and the length of time didn’t sound so bad to me anymore – I just wasn’t entirely sure if their truth was my own. After all, I had challenge and thought in my life already – I had my writing. That would never change. So long as I lived, regardless of what I was doing, whether I was waiting tables or scrubbing toilets, I would always be able to go home and work on something that I knew was worthwhile. So the way I saw it, I didn’t have anything to worry about. Their story wasn’t going to be mine.

I haven’t heard this story since then, but I find myself thinking about it a lot now. I’ve been out of school for a grand total of a month now, and a lot has changed since then. I got myself one of those tedious and monotonous nine to five jobs that I was so strongly warned against. I thought I wouldn’t mind it so much, thought that the meaninglessness of my day job would pale in comparison to the meaningfulness of my writing. Turns out, I was completely wrong. Turns out, I’m living that very same story that I was told time and time again in university.

I miss university. I miss being surrounded by people who share my passion. I miss having in-depth discussions about literature with others. I miss being challenged with digging up obscure research, even though the thought would literally have brought me to tears from the stress just over a month ago. And maybe I’m just being sentimental. Maybe I only miss university so much right now because I know that I’m not going back come September. But regardless, I miss university enough to have decided that, after this long, boring year off that I have ahead of me, I will be enrolling in graduate school.

I don’t want to settle for small, in any aspect of my life. I don’t want to not care about what I’m doing. I want my whole life to burn bright and hot and hard, every single aspect of it. And although I have heard that story time and time again while I was an undergraduate student, I think I finally understand what it means.