At 14, I always figured that I’d have it together by 20. Now that I’m 20 (hovering ominously close to the age wherein I don’t want to reveal how old I am—and yes, this starts young in some circles), I still don’t have it all together.
At 14, I thought that I would have finished my undergraduate degree in the minimum amount of time, that I would have a longterm college boyfriend, and that I would be hurtling, full steam ahead, towards a future in something glamorously ephemeral, yet prestigious.
Note: I’ve accomplished perhaps maybe half of one of those things.
Going through my diaries, livejournal posts, and the odd occasional email, I’ve reacquainted myself with the grandiose to-do lists I’d made. Growing up in suburbia, and having a penchant for dreaming big, there were certain things like “LIVE IN AN ARTIST’S COMMUNE”, “HAVE LOVERS AND WRITE ABOUT THE EXPERIENCES AFTER”, “SLEEP UNDER THE STARS IN L.A” that were at once attainable and elusive. The smaller ticket experiences were sandwiched in between the bigger ones; things like
“LEARN TO WRITE PROPERLY”, “GET A TATTOO”, “DYE YOUR HAIR PINK” were ones that I managed to accomplish (okay, maybe with the exception of number one––that’s a constant process).
At 14, I thought that my life would be OVER by the time I was 20, that I wanted to cram in a lifetime of adventure into six speedy years.
Not just that, even. I thought by the time I hit my twenties, I would have acquired certain skills that most women seem to effortlessly acquire. Like proper posture, like how not to chip an expensive manicure after two days, where to properly place a semi colon, and how to write a thank you note. I hadn’t exactly thought about the practice that it entails to learn such things. It’s like the Simone de Beauvoir quote, “One is not born a woman, one becomes one”––but in a slightly less depressing way. I thought that I’d learn these things by osmosis, the same way that 14 year old me thought that my bombastic life plans would happen. Itching for my real life to begin, I neglected the life I already had; the raw materials were right in front of me, but I was too wrapped up in making lists to actually go out and live it.
I’m not saying it’s a bad idea to document your desires, but don’t let them stew in your notebooks. If you want to sleep under the stars in L.A, start saving the cash you need to get there. If you want to go all Anais Nin and have a string of lovers and your very own erotic diary, maybe try meeting some people at your local coffee shop, or book club? You’ve got a little time, so you don’t need to cram everything into six short years. You’ve got a lot of time to get your shit done.
And let me let you in on a little secret: no one’s got it all together.
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