Reading over the blogs posted by my classmates last week, the beautifully written pieces about ‘This I Believe’ honestly made me pause, and sit, and think. I am proud of what I wrote, no doubt, but other pieces of absolute art made me tear up and reflect introspectively. My piece was missing that certain clincher that truly made it, I’d like to think, memorable. And that is what I have decided to write about for this free choice opportunity.
Being memorable, remembered, known to have existed. To have lived.
One of my greatest fears in life is dying unhappy, dying unfulfilled. But I have come to realize, gradually, that I am more so afraid of living unhappily, unmemorable.
It is living a life of absence and unfulfillment that terrifies me and keeps me awake at night, in the dark enclosure of a silent house, feeling utterly alone yet utterly surrounded and closed in at once. In such a life, I am the broken branch of a tree that has fallen in to a river, a rushing river that moves onward, forward, towards an ocean of immortality. I am the branch stuck between rocks crafted from the whispers of uncertainty, too intimidated by the endless movement around me to consider changing my position in this place. My fear of the unknown has been surpassed by my fear of failure, so much so, I don’t know if I will ever move from this spot.
I want to be remembered. This is selfish, I know, but it is an innate human desire to want recognition. It is ingrained in our genes and our histories that we wish to be known for something, anything, before we pass on. We wish to be alive to see our faces figuratively plastered on billboards, to have our names whispered among those around us with tones of awe and reverence, to know that all our pain and struggles and heartaches did not go to waste.
I want to be happy. I hate this fear of the future that I possess, that whatever I am doing right now is completely meaningless, and I will still end up unhappy one day. That my thoughts, my opinions, my words are being screamed out in to an empty stadium that I have deluded myself into thinking would one day be filled to the brim with adoring fans.
We delude ourselves further, into believing that to be content with our lives is being happy with our lives. The difference between these two words is almost indescribable. We are content with coming in at second place – we are happy, proud, overjoyed to be first. Our dreams are ignored because they are impossible, and our thoughts are ignored because they are not relevant. I rescind what I stated earlier – it is society around us, more so, that forces us to be content. The social expectations and limits and restrictions surrounding us work against us from the beginning and create cramped boundaries, impossible to break through, which we are expected to easily approach and climb over with little to no resistance.
One of the questions my generation hates the most, understandably, is the following:
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
This question scares me, unbelievably so. I don’t know, I really don’t. When have I grown up? Was I pushed to grow up at the age of 11 when I was told I would be a failure if I didn’t do well in school and get a high-paying job? Am I an adult now, barely 16 years old, because I panic daily about how I am going to pay off debts that I have not yet found myself drowning in? Do I become an adult when I face my first instance of rejection, from a job, or a school, or someone I love? Despite my curious nature, I do not want to know the answers to these questions.
I want to be happy.
I want to wake up every day and fall in love with what surrounds me. I want to fall in love with the light sunshine that ushers me out of bed, with the blazing sunset that tucks me in at night with murmurs of more lovely things to come. With the smell of pine and warm fires that tell me the seasons are changing, to fall in love with the thought of a never-ending spring filled with blooming hope in the pastel shades of pinks and blues. I want to fall in love with the existence of life, of knowing my happiness will surround me as if it were a quilt constructed of hope and of joy and of eternal warmth.
When I grow up, if I am grown up, should I never grow up – I want to be happy.
The “grown-up” world is terrifying. People are stuck in jobs, stuck inside boxed-up ideals and carbon-cut suits that constrict their individuality and happiness until they go through the same routines day-by-day, on repeat, like a broken wind-up toy. They are made in a factory on conveyer-belts lined with hopelessness, by workers constructed from criticism and fear, supervised by the every-present weight of society’s expectations. I do not want to be made like this.
Whatever I choose to do in life, I will make it memorable. I will make it a choice based on happiness. I want to have lived my life, not let it pass by me, a false sense of content blurring my ever-present desire for more until it is a passing thought in the crowded streets that run through my mind. I swear myself to this, I promise myself to this ideal.
But promises can be easily broken.
And this terrifies me.