Well, we’re finally heading towards the end of my guest posts! This one is written by someone that I met at college and I have nothing but the highest amount of respect for her. Honestly. Everything she has done has been amazing and she is just a generally nice person. She wanted to stay anonymous, which is understandable, but please take the time to read her guest post!
I can’t write this without first acknowledging that this statement has been overused by everyone, especially myself, but this time is different. “This year is going to be different”. I’m trying to maintain a realistic vision for myself, after what was simultaneously the most productive and least productive year of my life last year. I managed to smash out 8 papers passing with mostly A grades overall (and a few B’s, but no C’s or fails), which isn’t much of a feat by comparison to some others’ academic achievements, but for me it was something I’m proud of. When I think about all of the sleep lost, slaving over assignments, writing and memorizing entire presentations, and trying to stay sane in overly intimate and demanding group projects, I’m pleasantly surprised at that, if nothing else. Because well, there was nothing else.
On New Year’s night, I was lucky enough to be home and alone in my room while everyone had somewhere cool to be and someone to be with *Bitter Sarcasm*. So I found myself in a state of mental review about how I gotten here like this. I could not think of anything non-academic and significant that I’d done in the past year. Of course I’d learnt a lot about people, places around me, the situations we’re all in, and the rest of that boring introspective stuff. I realised sadly, that I hadn’t played an active role in my own life, and I haven’t for more than just the past year. Now, at 21 and approaching graduation, I realised that I’m entering a stage in my life where I have to have exciting and ever-changing relationship, lifestyle, and career developments; then I felt a sad pressure weigh down on me, for failures laced with criticisms that hadn’t even happened yet.
In my life so far, I’ve been letting the worst things that have happened to me dominate my mind over what were in hindsight the happiest, yet simplest, memories. I find it saddening that as memories slip away, and as moments come to their end, my mind has sorted some of the worst to sit in the forefront of my recollections, so that I may live in avoidance of having to ever face them in life again, and to learn how to avoid the situations that allowed them to happen. So I looked back on 2014 and saw someone who was too afraid to do much of anything, yet had the dreams to do almost everything. I think we all have that in us. Our imaginations are infinite and the possibilities are unfathomable. Who we are in any given moment determines the paths we choose, and I have always chosen what is common, realistic, and easy to live with in that moment.
Something that I always seem to choose is pleasing other people before I can do what’s right for me, which feels like a failure for myself because the only sacrifice made is me. Although sacrificing your own needs is a glorified concept, to be selfless and to help others, you’ll find in my specific situation I do it for people who don’t actually need help. The dynamic is demanded in the situation, as it has become the only thing keeping our relationships together as they are, and maybe even at all. I’m afraid that by letting go of certain people, I’m doing the wrong thing. The other night after much thinking, and googling “friend breakups”, I came to the realisation that friendships are supposed to be symbiotic, and I feel as though I give and invest so much thought, energy and effort for a particular set of people, and perhaps they have no value for what I have to give anymore.
I realised that I have fallen on the scales of importance for these friends, where I still hold them high on mine. I take the additional continuous judgements from these people to heart: they tell me that they don’t want to be around me unless I’m 110% nothing but happy, that I should stop showing the sides of myself that they aren’t familiar with, that I mustn’t remind them of my ethnic heritage and culture, express diversity in musical taste, or show anyone my intolerance for racism and sexism – any form of my self-expression really. This has been the result of us moving to different cities after high school. We grew apart; we grew separately and on different paths, and I found myself able to express what for so long I had suppressed.
I’d spent my whole life with the same people, and so I maintained that adapted character; all of the same bullies watching me and always ready to show me my place, the same teachers who chose their golden children for prefect conditioning the minute we began at that school, the same friends and family who only knew me as someone who needed them in order to survive. “Just fine getting by”, one teacher said about me when describing how unimpressive and unambitious a student he thought I was in front of the class; I was very much not chosen and conditioned into prefect or “leadership material” in this sheltered community. That teacher went on to have a midlife crisis at 30 and will forever be remembered for a tantrum he threw in which he completely smashed a glass door, which glistened for days in the light of the courtyard like a beacon of his insanity. Thus I am not too bothered by his opinions.
So, although I grew up being something predictable and expected by the people of that time, why should I let that dictate my present moment, when I have seen in the past few years away that there are people and places where I’m not required to play that part that others have written? The present is essentially the only time we are promised. “Now” is the only tangible time of our lives and I don’t want to build up a whole new set of 365 “Now’s” with which I’d have nothing to show for because I was too busy drowning in my past, and sacrificing my character and wellbeing to people who received no benefit from it either. Everything that has ever been said or done is as fickle and as fleeting as the present is now and I can’t afford to be stuck on repeat forever; which may mean making the not so easy decisions, and risking letting people go.
I just feel ready to make the most of the present this year, which would hopefully result in 365 “Now’s” to be proud of. I hope you can too 🙂