Today I got it in my head that it would be a brilliant idea to come up with possible titles for my autobiography, should I ever have one. It’s not because I will have one some day – the plausibility of that is actually a bit laughable to me (though I assume that’s true of everyone who doesn’t have an ego as large as Donald Trump’s) – or because I feel my life will be interesting enough to even warrant one. I just think about these things sometimes because I’m afraid of running out of things to think about.
I spent an embarrassing amount of time attempting to come up with a title when it occurred to me that “Better Late Than Never” was probably the most fitting option. After getting over a quick round of crippling depression, I accepted that it would, indeed, be perfect. I started out well: born early, went to kindergarten early, graduated from high school at 17, developed at an early age. I seemed to be well on my way to blossoming as a person before my time. Somewhere along the line, I mucked it all up. “I Mucked It All Up”, by the way, would do quite well in a pinch if someone beats me to “Better Late Than Never”. As is my way, I’ll give them ample time to do so, I’m sure.
I can’t pinpoint the exact moment that most of the world passed me, but I’m guessing it happened around my thirteenth birthday. While others my age were solidifying their personalities and taking tentative steps into the world of dating, I was attempting to ignore my life like it was a bumble bee and I wanted it to fly away. I avoided dating, cut off my relationships, and stopped participating in class. I waited until 15 to make a friend, 19 to get a driver’s license, and 22 fucking years old to realize that every decision I’d ever made for myself was completely and utterly wrong. Two years ago when I decided to leave college a handful of credits away from my degree and start over I meant to start a blog to chart my progress. Now that I’ve finally gotten around to it (better late than never?), let’s bring you up to date.
I’m 25 now and two months into my valiant return to the University I left, positive that I was making my first ever brilliant decision. I’ve worked in retail, written a novel, sought months of intensive therapy, and grown in ways that shock me to this day. What have a learned since walking away from this place over two years ago? Let’s make a list:
- Even though I spent years perfecting the art of invisibility, people still saw me and I still mattered to them.
- The only person I didn’t matter to was myself.
- Tons of people don’t have all of the answers.
- Getting up everyday and trying gets you much farther than staring at a wall and comparing yourself to everyone around you.
- I’m intelligent, well-spoken, caring, talented, and worth so much more than I ever gave myself credit for.
- Someday I may actually make it out of this.
- Obsessing over the external you will never magically transform the internal you.
- I still have no fucking clue what I want to do with my life.
In approximately 7.5 weeks I will finally have a bachelor’s degree. It’s such a weird thought that I’m only kind of allowing myself to say it. Currently I am enrolled in 18 credits and, because I do nothing but study and attend classes, I’ve managed to maintain a 4.0. This is such a positive step for me that I’ll sporadically catch myself thinking that I’ve made it to the other side. Lately, though, as the inquiries as to what I’ll do after college come trickling in at an increasing and alarming rate, I find myself at even more of a loss. I think a part of me believed that I wouldn’t ever graduate. It’s kind of like trying to imagine yourself driving a car when you’re thirteen years old. Parents drive cars. Older siblings drive cars. Cool, older adults drive cars. It’s impossible to picture yourself in that role because you still feel like a kid – even when you’re focused on pretending like you don’t.
When I was in college before, people still asked me all of the time what I’d do after graduation and I’d say, “Oh, I don’t know. Probably die”. They’d laugh, thinking I was joking, but I wasn’t. Well, not completely. I honestly couldn’t see a thing past that day. The future wasn’t a blank page waiting to be filled or anything beautiful (and cliche); it was a black hole waiting to swallow me and spit me out into something unknown, but (most likely) terrible. Back then I was direction starved, driving aimlessly – and recklessly – as far away from the life I should have, should want as fast as humanly possible. I still kind of feel that way. The future seems incredibly uncertain, but not as dark as it once did. Now I picture a road. The one I’m currently walking down will be ending soon. I can clearly see the place where it stops. Instead of falling off of a cliff like two years ago me would imagine, it branches off in a thousand different directions. I don’t know which road to go down or which direction to turn. I don’t even know how – or if - anyone does know. One thing is certain, though, that was never certain before: I do have a future and it’s possible that it could be a really good one. Which brings me, at last, to the most important thing I’ve learned this year: forgive myself for my past.
I’m not haunted. I’m not damaged. I’m flawed and I’m normal and I’m human. I’m happy doing what I’m doing right now. I get up each morning and say, “Okay. First things first. I have this class to go to and I’m going to show up with a smile on my face, ready to learn, and do the best that I possibly can for the next hour”. That hour ends and it’s on to the next. Eventually I’ll run out of these hours and I’ll feel lost again. Lost, alone, confused, and fucking terrified. However, I have some tools now. I know it won’t kill me to make a mistake. I’ve forgiven myself for my past, so maybe I need to learn now to forgive myself for not having my entire future mapped out. Whatever happens two months from now, a year from now, ten years from now I’ve made it this far. I feel confident that I can figure it out. I have a lot more than I thought I’d have two years ago: I have a future. More importantly, though, I know that it will be entirely mine and that no one can ever take that away from me. It may be better late then never, but I’m getting there.