A warning before I begin: I’m probably freaking out too much.
I’ve always been a little too concerned with my future. A little too anxious to be a grown-up, with a grown-up job and a grown-up apartment. I’ve always wanted to have my own little routine, to make dinner in my own little kitchen, to vacuum my own little hardwood floors. As I got older, I realized that I would actually need to pay for all of these things, in some way or another. Still, even as that reality sinks in a little more with every year, I look forward to complete independence, to adult responsibility, to organizing bills and accounts and ducks into a row.
Is that weird?
Anyway, as I already mentioned, the reality of life outside of my parent’s house, outside of my college dormitory, is starting to really sink in. I’m realizing how little I know and understand about the things that I am going to have to do all by myself one day. Like, what is a mortgage? How about escrow? What the heck is that? It’s definitely not a variation of escarole. I already figured that one out on my own.
There’s already a lot of uncertainty, and I’m only twenty years old. In a year and a half, I’ll have graduated college, with a liberal arts degree in writing. I know what I want to do with that, but it’s no secret that becoming a successful television writer/novelist is exceptionally challenging.
And I feel like “I’m only twenty years old” isn’t even an excuse anymore. There are so many incredible youths out there nowadays, making waves. It’s really putting on the pressure.
Whenever I read about someone who I go to school with getting published, I have a moment of pride for my super cool peers, and then a (longer) moment of petty envy. I’ll probably do some online stalking to determine if they’re older or younger than me. If they’re older, all pettiness will disintegrate for hope: I have time! If they’re younger, well, let’s just say I’ll probably go on a crazed LinkedIn connection-making spree (which of course isn’t as productive as actually sending my work out to publishers).
Of course, there’s also the age-old question, often spoken or thought with a great tremor—is this my peak? What if I just become less talented, less marketable, less everything after this point?
Imagine me with a ruler and a piece of graph paper. Slowly, but steadily, a perfectly straight line edges up, up, up, but as soon as the pencil hits my twentieth year on the x-axis, the ruler flips 180 degrees to form a lopsided triangle. There it is. My peak. But even with the visual, it’s not about a peak, or having hit my peak, or not having hit my peak yet. It’s not about that at all.
It’s about being good enough. Every point on that line, I would have questioned if I were good enough. I would hold the graph paper out in front of my eyes so I could see the whole picture at once, and my eyes would find the highest point, the peak, and I would still think, “Was I good enough, there? At my peak?”
How do I overcome this? I know that I must. But that’s as far as I’ve gotten.
I know that, once I overcome this, I will send my work out to publishers, for the task will no longer seem quite as daunting. I will write cover letters and do internship after internship. I will introduce myself to the most powerful person in the room as though I deserve to shake her hand. I will never question if I belong somewhere. I will enter through a threshold, unsure of what lies beyond it, and yet still think that I belong there. I will see myself through the eyes of the people who love me the most, instead of the people who appreciate me the least.
When I used to envision myself as an adult, puttering about my charmingly eclectic and historic antebellum apartment, these weren’t the concerns I thought I’d have. Actually, the fantasy never involved any worries or problems. That’s what makes it a fantasy, I guess.
So, yeah, I’m freaking out. In my worst moments, I’m Girl Unpublished. Girl Unsuccessful. Girl Undeserving. But I’m working on it. I’m working on stopping the ruler from turning 180 degrees. I’m working on not getting in the way of that straight line as it goes higher and higher.
Because, really, it’s not anyone else making me feel not good enough. As unbelievable as it sounds to even me, especially me, I choose to feel that way (to an extent—I don’t want to feel not good enough, but I’m the only person who can control feeling that way or not). It’s just like how the most arrogant person in the world chooses to feel like he’s the best, and it’s definitely not because the rest of the world thinks he’s the best (I’m alluding to a certain public figure here).
Well, it’s true sometimes that other people help to make you feel really crappy, like those people who get published at the ripe old age of thirteen, or even the people you love when they do something disappointing. It totally sucks. But it doesn’t have to mean anything about you personally. It’s only as significant as the value you give it. Do with that what you will. I’ll just keep repeating it over and over in my head till I really believe it.