Some of us just get that sinking feeling. Our stomachs sink at the thought of missing an English class, because what if we get our tests back that day? Our heads spin at the thought of following in our classmates’ footsteps, imagining the horror on our parents’ faces if we got driven home in the back of a squad car, or told them we were taking five years off school to go travelling. It hurts to think about being out until four in the morning every weekend, and having no recollection of what we did the night before. Sometimes, what seems so normal for everyone else our age, seems impossible to us.
Impossibly stupid. Impossibly impulsive. Impossibly hard.
What is hard to conceive of people who aren’t like us, is that they all seem to be very happy people. I know for myself, when I was in high school, I envied watching some of the other girls go about making the usual high school memories that we see in the movies and the media as being normal: countless relationships, countless drinks, countless nights where there was no plan, rhyme or reason for anything that happened. I wasn’t always a part of that. I wouldn’t say I was anti-social, as I had lots of friends and a long term relationship, but I always found it hard to relate to people who thought that vodka was more fun than a book.
And it might be. I might be off my rocker here. But I am also hoping that other girls out there feel a little off their rockers too, and are hoping that someone understands them. Trust me, I do.
Good grades, good relationships with adults, and good planning for my future was my life. I may have even missed out on some of the teenage years where you are supposed to be immature, because I was so busy trying to get ready for life as an adult.
Well, I will tell you right now, dear girl, once I became an adult, I realized something of importance: scaring yourself a little is how you live.
It is a great thing to be planning for your life after being sheltered by your family and government as a child for so long. But don’t look ahead so much that you forget to see what is in front of you. Sure, get ready for college and pick out matching blankets with your roommate so your dorm looks put together. But then also look into where you can go see a gorgeous mountain range when you’re off school next summer even though you never thought it was something you would do, and then book a time to go with your best friend in the whole world. Sure, it might not be something you would normally do, but scare yourself a little. And by scaring yourself a little, I don’t mean going bungee jumping or putting your life in danger or going to watch a scary movie so you won’t sleep for a week afterward. But for once your life, don’t have it all figured out.
Grab a bag. Find a vehicle. Take enough time off work that you can drive halfway across the country, and stop and look at any beautiful things that you see. If you’re anything like me, it may sound frightening to go somewhere random with no hotel room booked six months in advance and a travel itinerary laid out in front of you. But maybe it’s time to do something that makes your heart race a bit. Even if it’s just something as simple as going to a movie with that boy who makes your head spin every time he talks in class, and you know he’s into you but you’ve never had the nerve to act on it. Maybe it’s seeing a hotel sign that says “No Vacancy” on it. I don’t know what will make your heart race in the best way possible. I’m not you. I don’t know you, and I probably never will.
But I know that something will make your heart race, and I think you should go find it.
Everything I’m saying sounds like an old cliché you’ve heard your grandmother tell you a million times, but you don’t know how amazing it can be, or how liberated you can feel, or how in love you can be with someone or something or just life in general. Maybe that one place will fill your head with the most beautiful kinds of poetry, or will plant ideas in your mind, or maybe that one boy or girl will do it. Either way, you owe it to yourself to find out. Be responsible with your life; don’t throw away a great scholarship or a sport you love just to take my advice. But go learn how to live, go be by yourself, go be with someone else, go be with your favorite writing notebook, go be with the beautiful planet you live on.
Just go be.
You owe it to yourself to just go be something, whether it’s different or the same from what you’ve always been. Even if it’s not what everyone else thought you would be. It might be the best feeling in the world.
You’ve always been a straight line, a clean divide between what you believe you should and shouldn’t be. But please remember that lines can go crooked, and then return back to their original position if they aren’t happy. Or maybe you’ll be like a highway, with a thousand twists and turns and straight stretches that all meld into each other perfectly in the end, arriving at the destination that the driver wanted to end up in.
For once, don’t think about the destination.
Think about the road, in all its imperfections.
Trust that it will end where you need it to.