Attaching to Idealism

I read a story tonight about an amazing girl who was a promising writer. She went to Yale, had a job secured at the New Yorker, was in love, and it seemed like she had everything going for her.

This got me to thinking about myself and my own situation in life. I think I grew up expecting certain lavish and exciting things to adorn each and every minute of my young adult life. I’m not just talking about memorable experiences on a broad spectrum here- I had always wanted something more specific. I wanted to go to a big, stony university and have a messy dorm lit with Christmas lights I stole from my dad’s garage. I pictured spending nights with the guy from across the dorm and simultaneously maturing into a girl who wasn’t so young and innocent but rather fun and experiential. I wanted to spend my nights going to party after party, teasing boys, driving in my best friend’s car with the top down, watching the sun set, feeling the freedom every young and stupid girl feels when she is miles away from the rigidity of her parents.

I wanted to have opportunities just waiting for me. I wanted to be whip-smart and have everyone know it. I yearned to have everyone know my name, to be the top writer at my paper, to be lining up jobs in amazing places. I wanted all these things and I dreamed them to be reality. The truth is, though, that I could dream as much as I wanted. These things were not meant to be my reality.

My reality involves having left for a year to live in another country and proceeding to move back in with my parents upon my return. It’s going to a school a half hour from my house, where I have made very few true friends and spend my time only studying. It’s hours at the gym and the library, working on myself, missing parties and dates and everything else in between. It’s having a boyfriend, but a boyfriend who’s detached from me and attached to a me I know I’m not. It’s being 21 and feeling so developmentally behind my friends. It’s feeling like so much of the last three years have been clouded by my mental illness.

It’s easy to feel like, at 21 years old, I have already missed out on so may of the things I wanted in life. I had this picture-perfect scene of perpetual adventure and happiness and fulfillment in mind, but because I haven’t encapsulated the material aspects of that life I wished for I feel as though I am and will never be properly fulfilled in terms of my life as a young woman.

But I’m wrong. I have been carrying a completely wrong frame of mind.

Here’s the truth: yes, I have lived a completely diverse life from the one I had so lovingly envisioned in my mind as a child. However, I was born in a small Canadian town, not somewhere in California. I was destined to go to a Canadian university with a small campus, not a large Ivy-League, and the fact that it is so close to my house is a blessing because I won’t be shrouded in debt come post-graduation. Sure I didn’t have the independence of living on campus where I could invite over a guy any time I wanted, but I can still do that now that I don’t live on campus. And yes, my biggest dreams of finding a successful and fulfilling job in a faraway big city do seem worlds away. They could have potentially been made easier if I had attained my fairytale life I had always dreamed of when I left high school. But just because logistically my getting a job at the New Yorker or something to that degree seems next to impossible given my geographical location and the potpourri of competition surrounding me, it doesn’t have to be impossible. And if it is impossible, maybe that’s not what I’m meant for.

I think such an important aspect of growing up is letting go of these ideals we have in our heads. It doesn’t mean we have to settle or stop believing in ourselves. It just means that opening ourselves up to another reality creates a whole new world of expectations. Just because we’re not achieving one specific thing does not mean we are not achieving. I may not be a principle writer for my school paper or for the New Yorker or whatever, but that does not mean I lack potential. It does not mean that possibility doesn’t exist in my life. Believing that the best possible life for me would lie in one university, one job, one city, one boy- that’s just limiting myself. And it won’t serve me in living my best life.

So with that, I promise myself that I will take a step and re-examine what I have done and what I plan to do in the coming year. I won’t think any farther than that for now. I the meantime, I will be damn proud of what I’ve accomplished. My life has been amazing and beautiful and unique, and that’s because it was meant for me. That’s it. 

Laura