I was once told by an editor that what I should write isn’t necessarily what people want, but whatever I want to write about instead. Perhaps this is a manifesto that is unique to this editor and his creed, but I feel empowered by it, as if what I intend to be is more important than what I’m supposed to be instead.
Sometimes I feel like I’m writing about the same things over and over again, with the same themes of achieving dreams and fulfilling ambitions and overcoming difficulties. Other pieces are about personal stories and perhaps tragedies, something to relate to for those weary and in need of some peace of mind in knowing that they are not alone.
Trust me, you are not alone.
I wished that life was simple, with a simple cool breeze letting me take in all of what the cities and societies have to offer. But before I head towards my coffin and become a remnant of what I was, I hope to become a maxed out version of what I could have been.
What could I have been?
Some people say, you’re a great writer Aston, and every time somebody says this I feel a slight boost in my confidence, a bit more of a skip to my step, more of a grin on my face than before. But the reason I grin isn’t only because I’m a bit elated, but also because I feel like a fool. I don’t know if I’m a good writer or a great writer or whatever you want to call it, all I know is that I have thus far failed to achieve anything of great acclaim, and I grin at my own worthlessness for having fallen so hard and so far from what I was supposed to be. Let me rewind a bit so that this can make a little more sense.
When I was about four years old, I remember being put into a room and some adult gave me a series of tests. They gave me blocks and I had to arrange certain shapes out of these blocks. I had to memorize numbers and letters and repeat them. Stuff like that. Later on, I found out that this was a test for “the gifted and talented”, and after I took that test I was put into all advanced classes until the day I graduated from high school.
Even in college I excelled, graduating with honors and almost with cum laude from UCLA, despite struggling with depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation for most of it. At this point of the story maybe you want to throw up for me bragging so much about my accolades, but trust me, that’s not really the point. Stick with me. School was never really that difficult, but life always seemed to be a challenge. Something just didn’t translate. Something just didn’t click.
I never amounted to anything of paramount importance, as my intelligence tests would’ve suggested. Was my gift a blessing or a curse? Did it help me reach some platitude of greatness or did it only set the bar so high that coming short was almost certain? As I sit here typing all of this out, I look back and wonder what I could have been had it not been for mental illnesses and other flaws and defects in personality. That’s why I feel so foolish when people tell me I’m a great writer because in my mind I say to myself: so what? What happened to me? What became of me? Did I live up to the expectations of being gifted and talented or was I a waste of potential? And thus I grin.
I might be full of myself, no doubt partially due to the fact that I lack true self-love. So much of life consists of the stories we tell ourselves, and stories seem to play themselves over and over, through patterns and situations that we’ve seen before. The recordings in my mind are like nightmares, showing me every wrong turn and every bad decision I’ve made. So sometimes I stray so that I don’t have to make a decision at all, but this is no way to live. At this point of the story, I can see the car coming and I know that I’m supposed to move out of the way. I’ve seen this before. When this happens, this is how I will react, because experience has told me as such. I can recognize patterns. I can connect the dots. Something abstract inside of me, something like will, is failing to move me though with each subsequent oncoming vehicle.
I’m getting tired of this and I don’t know how long I can live with the fact that I know what I could have been and will not likely meet expectations, especially from myself. So what am I supposed to do, give up? No, absolutely not. We ride this shit out. At least that’s what I’m supposed to tell myself.
I don’t know how to end this, because stories are supposed to have happy endings and triumphant returns from the hero’s journey, and I can’t conjure up the bravado to tell you that everything will be alright in the end. It’s almost like I want someone to end it for me. Let’s just hope I can rewrite my whole entire story and be more gifted than I could have ever imagined with my mind and my writing before this story turns into a tragedy.
Above average, below average, or just simply making the cut, we’re all just humans trying to get by and we will live and experience the same problems of living with oftentimes unpleasant thoughts on our minds. This too shall pass, more days we’ll live, and hopefully we will all find that peace of mind we all yearn for.