“And again he thought the thought we already know: Human life occurs only once, and the reason we cannot determine which of our decisions are good and which are bad is that in a given situation we can only make one decision; we are not granted a second, third, or fourth life in which to compare various decisions. History is similar to individual lives in this respect. There is only one history of the Czechs. One day it will come to an end, as surely as Tomas’ life, never to be repeated again”
– The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
I’m not one to write in the first person because being introspective on a public forum is an uncomfortable endeavor for me. There’s something very explicit about writing as yourself on a page that always unnerves me and I’ve heard many different theories about why this is the case. First there’s the “those who are generally reserved and repressive in reality translate that personality into their work” argument. Then there’s the “people have better things to do (and read) then my thoughts and emotions” counter-argument that I am the biggest advocate of. Finally there’s the “it doesn’t matter” theory because “there’s always a better way to tell your story then using the pronoun ‘I’.” However in less then two months I will be turning 21 which, according to the human condition, dictates for some introspection which I lay out here just in case anyone else is looking for some insight or some perspective like me.
I live in Canada which has a life expectancy of 80 years, which means that I’m a quarter of a way through life. By the sub-continent’s standards (65 years) a third of my life is over and done with. My problem with this realisation is not that I haven’t done anything with life (to those who do think that i say the whole point of the first third/quarter of life is to revel in the learning, growing, confusion and uncertainty. Profoundness and achievement come in time) or how the wish-list of things that could have been different. Neither am I worried about growing up because it’s not something I can stop from happening.
My problem is with the “what-if’s” that are knocking on my door. What-if i don’t get get accepted into my profession of choice? What if I haven’t done enough? What if I had done that instead? What if I screw up? You could argue these are products of the harsh, competitive, economically difficult, and just plain hard climate our generation is a part of, or that I’m just being insecure. Yet the mere reality is that its just that time for me to be worrying about these things now. I think its natural because as a kid who has always dreamed much bigger then she should, some of them are at hand’s reach. But what Disney forgot to tell us is that even when you’re so close, there are all these barriers and locked doors and thorny paths you still have to cross.
I know that it’s doable. Rather I believe that its doable and I hope that this idealism and optimism will get me (and all of you) there. But still I second guess. Milan Kundera says its a part of the reality of being human because we only have one chance at life so we wonder and worry and let the “what-ifs” in our homes. Its something to do with legacies. Wanting to say “I did that” or “I’ve done something with my life” that makes us wonder about this. Something about history – making it, writing it, being part of it – that forces us to question our decisions and motives.
I think that when you reach this stage you need to instill in yourself a certain confidence to self-ascertain that you’re doing everything right, or everything you possible can, or everything the best that you can. You have to have a lot of faith, even more perseverance a little strength and some love too. I don’t have all of that yet, but I’m trying which is the first step in some ways. The thing about legacies and histories are that even though they belong to you they cannot be created alone; there are some people in the world who have so much trust in you and all you do and will do, that sometimes its doesn’t make sense how and why their confidence never wavers. Maybe they see something you don’t so you trust them and hope and pray and believe with them.
I don’t think the next 20 years will always be easy, but they’ll be fun I hope. My dad says that “life is about how you react,” so to whatever life’s sending my way I say to it this: “I have worked hard, I have dreamed big, and I have made mistakes. And so I will continue to work hard and dream big and make mistakes.” Everything’s uncertain now, but like that moment before the curtain goes up in a theater, it’s only the beginning, right?