The Pity Party

You have decided to throw a party. Instead of music, you’ve got regrets pounding inside your head. Embarrassing accidents, wistful should’ves, and clever comebacks that are too little too late. Memories ranging from third-grade bullies to job rejections fight for your attention, but you are afraid of lingering on any one of them for too long as if you’ll relive those dull gray moments in technicolor. You skip from one thought to the next and then back around again like a broken record player on repeat, running on the emotional energy of negativity.

Well, at least you are alone. But not the good kind of alone. Not the alone you feel on those late evenings when the traffic has dwindled and you are driving by yourself through the suburbs, nestled in the safety of your car while the lights blur past you in warm hues of reds and yellows. Not the alone you feel between the bookshelves of the library as your eyes flicker through the rows of hardcovers until your finger softly settles on one slightly worn spine. No, this alone is pure, fearful loneliness – lost in the deep, dark, fairytale woods loneliness. Aching for a human presence outside of your imagination loneliness.

You feel as if the world has turned against you. You know that life isn’t fair, but hard works ultimately pays off, right? Injustice will be met with wrath? Karma will be accounted for? What did you do to deserve any of this woeful sorrow that countless dead poets have lamented about? Surely even the greatest writers in history couldn’t have put into words the emotional turmoil you are experiencing now. No, these emotions have only ever belonged to you, and no one could possibly understand how you feel.

This small and modest party has gotten out of control and now you wonder why you decided to hold it in the first place. Who thought this was a good idea? It’s not anyone’s birthday or graduation or baby shower. No appreciation or admiration or congratulations worth announcing.The guilt hits you like whiplash. This is just one selfish blowout focused on YOU. YOU were the one who sent out the invitation and YOU were the one to RSVP. YOU got yourself here.

But you never even wanted any of this in the first place, did you?

Maybe you should leave early. You’re exhausted and vulnerable by now, but, as the host and only guest of this party, you have the authority to call it quits at any time. You’ll have to clean up the mess, but it’ll be worth it. Sort through the jetsam and flotsam and salvage the valuable wreckage, leaving everything else to be eroded away by time. The process might take longer than you think and you might accidentally slice your knuckle on a shard of broken glass you didn’t even know was there, but you know that it too will eventually heal.

Besides, you’ve got bigger and better celebrations to throw out there.

Slipping

You are slipping. Your hands are gripping onto the red monkey bars, your feet dangling two stories above the ground. The palms of your hands taste the metallic coldness and the paint chips whittle away at the pads of your fingers. Even though you’ve done this many times before, this crossing from one threshold to another, you are too scared to look down. This time feels different. Now your arms are tiring and your body is sore, dragging you downwards so that your toes point towards the ground below, desperate to touch something solid.

You are slipping. You try to fight off the wave of exhaustion but it just keeps coming like the tide throughout the day. The headaches crash into your skull and fill your mind with whirlpools of thoughts, all jumbled together with nowhere to go. You think of sleep and the prospect of a warm, comfortable place to lie, but you are so far away from that place. Each time you feel yourself wavering, falling into unconsciousness, you snap your head back up. There are still things that need to be done, no matter how tired you are.

You are slipping. You don’t remember your last time ice-skating, but you don’t think it would’ve been this difficult. It’s like the blades under your soles have been slicked with oil and you are always on the tip of toppling over like those wobbly toys you used to play with when you were young. Each part of your body feels separated – your legs have been moving forever, trying to keep you upright and your face has grown numb to the cold. You are just a jigsaw puzzle of mismatched pieces, scrambling themselves together again and again into a million permutations, trying to make yourself whole again.

“I know that we all think we’re immortal. We’re supposed to feel that way, we’re graduating. The future is and should be bright, but like our brief four years in high school, what makes life valuable is that it doesn’t last forever – what makes it precious is that it ends. I know that now more than ever. And I say it today of all days to remind us that time is luck. So don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Make yours count for something. Fight for what matters to you, no matter what. Because even if you fall short, what better way is there to live life?”
― Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man 2

The Little Things (Bits and Pieces of Wisdom #5)

  • You know those moments when you’re driving down a road with the wind in your hair and this sensation of pure joy just arises from somewhere within you? Hang on to that feeling; put it into your pocket and save it for later.
  • If you don’t think that waking up in the morning and actually feeling like you’re ready to face the world head-on is one of the best things ever, you’re wrong.
  • When you discover a new favorite song, play it over and over and over again. Then find a new one and repeat.
  • One of greatest miracles of Mother Nature is the sky. Go stargazing. Ponder the brightness of a full moon. Relish the shade of the clouds. Bask in the warmth of the sun.
  • Treat yourself after a long day. Even the smallest of rewards – an ice cream cone, an episode of your favorite show, a new book – will make a big difference in your mood.
  • When inspiration strikes you, stop whatever else you’re doing and put that moment to good use. You’ll never know when it’ll appear again.
  • Take a deep breath and feel the air fill your lungs. Sometimes we forget what it means to be alive.

May 4th.

There isn’t much to be said today, except that this is a great time to be alive.

Yes, it’s the beginning of the first two weeks of AP testing. Yes, I have been sucked into a vortex of stress from all the exams this past week. Yes, I could’ve probably been more productive about this weekend and am feeling slightly guilty about it.

But there is this wonderful sensation of hope and excitement for the future brewing inside me, and I needed to stop and record this moment so I can remember how it feels. There’s about a month left until graduation. And I am looking forward to the rest of my life.

Decisions.

In the beginning of the college application process, I promised myself that no matter where I ended up, I would embrace the opportunities and maintain my high ambitions. Despite the rejection letters still stored in my email inbox, I don’t regret applying to those top universities in the slightest. I’ve learned that the process is as important as the product and that setting the hurdle high isn’t a bad thing as long as you can get back up and brush yourself off. Oddly enough, realizing how crazily competitive college admissions are these days actually assures me in a way – at least I know the world’s future rests in the competent hands of our generation. Life is undoubtedly full of rejections, but no one rejection is a full measure of your self-worth. I hope that I, along with the other high school graduates of 2014, will remember that.

I’ve also learned not to discount my accomplishments. There are people who would give anything to attend the schools whose offers of admission I’ve decided not to accept, and my idealistic vision of always being among the best does not grant me the privilege of lamenting what I perceive as “not good enough”. For the longest time, I’ve followed the philosophy of “not settling”, but there’s a fine line between striving for improvement and self-criticism for the sake of superiority.

Here I stand at the end of this 7+ month journey. Decisions are tough and none more so than the choice of where I will be attending college for the next four years. Two very different schools sit on opposite coasts of the country, stretching me thin in this mercurial game of tug-of-war. When the choice is made, it will signify both a moment of finality and the beginning of a new adventure.