afloat.

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Things have happened and more things will happen.

I’m frightened by the promises I made to myself so long ago, childish, wishful self-vows of partaking in certain self-created rites of passage. I’m too nauseous with nerves to read the first pages in my journal, to glance over furiously written hopes and goals, things that haven’t been reached, things I don’t want to reach or fight for anymore.

There comes a particular moment in being a teenager where one fully realizes their naivety. Where one understands that clinging shakily onto the picturesque cannot and will never really work. I’ve reached this point. I’ve just turned sixteen years of age and it may perhaps be the least exciting birthday I’ve ever had. 16 does not bring about immediate maturity or self-awareness or, really, anything very pleasant. 16 brings about this enormous, impossibly complex imbroglio of sorts; a terrible intersection between stop and go, between red light green light, between this way or that way.

I’ve devoured mediocrity too often, with the undying, strange, sickening hope in the pit of my stomach, that things will eventually be better. That things will one day be great. Ivy Leagues. Medical school. Success. Not happiness, but true greatness. This absurdity that I believed in so ferociously and, with, often terrifying, persistence, that this idealistic form of achievement- no matter if you want that achievement- would bring me completion. Satisfaction.

What a ridiculous joke that all seems to me now.

In middle school, the days filled up with preteen-turmoil and the uncomfortable first feelings of angst. We all gripped onto one another like lifeboats in the center of a fervent hurricane. We tore at each other’s throats to sit within the small, buoyant boat that would somehow safely carry us afloat and ashore. We did not try to save the others from drowning, we only gave thought to our own lives, to our own breaths and heartbeats.

Identity seemed a universally similar thing. I couldn’t handle it. I could not live on the fixed ideals of preteen livelihood. I could not sit on that boat and pretend that my mouth still was not full of water. I was constantly soaked, tossed back into the water, never attaining a permanent seat on the vehicle that would somehow save me from drowning.

High school changed all of that, but certainly did not make it any better. I watch people get thrown off their boat all the time, watch people try to piece a broken raft back together, try to push together rotted, ruined pieces of wood in order to recreate their past selves. What is so difficult to believe and accept is that those past selves won’t ever exist again. Not really.

I try to grasp onto my own self now, try to make something out of nothing, try to force myself to fit into small, dried up boats ashore.

I cannot hold onto the boats any longer. I’d prefer to learn to swim. Swimming takes more effort. It requires resilience and endless frustration, perpetual failure, indeed, and there is always the horrible thought that one will never reach land, will never find a place to call their home. As nervous as this prospect makes me, I cannot seem to stop swimming. I go under far too often for my liking, I cough up quite a lot of water, but does my heartbeat ever fade off into nothingness? No. It doesn’t, and perhaps it may, one day, but that is not now, not this year. I don’t pretend to always thoroughly enjoy the swimming. Most days I want nothing more than to grab onto a raft, to hold myself steady for just a minute, but I can’t do that. I can’t grab on because I might forget how to let go.

 

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