Tuesday, January 26, 2016

After the End

It's funny how reading an article about another woman who happens to be 22 and also, possibly, the next Einstein, sends me into a complete tailspin. Do you ever have a day when you're not feeling profound enough, so your ego just lies around, licking itself like a bored cat? It's stupid and self indulgent, as though profoundness comes in the mail and I just haven't gotten mine yet. The thing is, I didn't expect graduating from college to result in the following careers: tanning salon worker, restaurant hostess, and intern with potential. In fact, I expected a lot more but I admitted that very little.

When I imagined myself, four years ago, I'm not sure what I thought I'd be like. Determined, thoughtful, ambitious, creative, gentle, gifted: all words that swirl around in my head without sticking. Today, four years later, I work a lot. And I live in a one bedroom apartment in Pittsburgh with my boyfriend. And I'm tired from working a lot. And I like to read and write and love and smile and think and see my friends and do yoga and reject authority. I like to think that I oversimplified somewhere along the way, that I made my life too easy, and that that's why I'm not a PhD candidate at MIT, who may or may not be the next Einstein. I actually hated Physics quite thoroughly; I took it my senior year of high school for college credit, and because a certain Physics instructor liked me, I didn't have to take it again in college. But now I wonder, what am I doing with my life? Why am I not remarkable yet? Why am I not profound?

I think the answer, is that I am thinking about the wrong stuff. What you meditate on, what you hum in the back of your mind throughout the day, becomes your reality. Regardless of the way the rest of the world sees you, regardless of what you've accomplished, what ultimately determines your success, your abilities, is what you see when you see yourself. So if I look in the mirror every day and compare myself to 22 year old physics PhD candidates, that would be a misinformed thing to do because I am not a physics PhD candidate. Or if I look in the mirror every day and wonder why after countless years of working out, I am still not a supermodel. That would be another misinformed thing to do, for a lot of reasons.

I guess I've never worried before about straying from the beaten path and now that I'm here, on a weird path I never imagined for myself, I can't help but feel...stray. I have read countless stories of writers that worked as waitresses and bartenders and maids and taxi drivers and more, while they tried really hard to be successful writers and then eventually were. And then there are the prodigal stories, of twenty year old writers who stumbled into success and fame and fortune and a lifetime of writerness. The bottom line, the root of all my issues, is that no other story will be the same as mine. When I look into the shelves for comfort or solace, I'm only pulling up shards of other people's comfort and solace. The truth is, reading someone else's writing can make you feel a little bit better for a little bit of time. But writing something, writing your own advice, your own story, your own manifestations, it really saves you, from yourself and from the world. It reminds you that you exist, you're here and you're building and no one can take that away.