The Death Trap

Peter Curbishley
Peter Curbishley

The older you get, the more you begin to feel the inevitable fear of death start to penetrate its nastiness into your life. You now know someone’s friend or relative that died. Then you will know someone who died. Then you will love someone that died. Everyone knows it’s going to happen and everyone pushes it out of their mind. How else can you live a happy and stress free life?

But what happens when you can’t push the thoughts out of your mind? The impending doom begins to take hold of your everyday thoughts. Just when you attempt to concentrate on a task, the concept of incredible, unrelenting sadness takes over your consciousness. Just when you become sleepy, and your eyelids start to droop, and your body shifts into that perfect sleeping posture, you think, “When will I get that life changing phone call? How will it happen? How will I ever go on?” It’s no longer the idea of what if, but the idea of when.

The longer I dwell on the concept of struggling to move past devastation, the kind I have yet to truly feel in my own life, I become angry. But not for the reasons you might think. Why would I let myself be so fucking weak? Everyone deals with tragedy and sadness. The best people not only get over it, they embrace it and use the experience to make their life better. Do I really have that much self-doubt to think I could not continue my life after experiencing such a loss? I want to be one of those strong people; the kind that others are inspired by. Why can’t I believe I’m that person?

But it’s more than just that. It’s the consistent thoughts of failure. No matter how normal it is for a twenty-something to feel like she’ll never be successful or important or happy, it does not feel normal to me. The irony is that everything else in my life right now, outside of my career, is fan-fucking-tastic. I live in one of the best cities on the planet, I have an amazing group of friends, I am madly in love with my boyfriend who I may very well spend the rest of my life with, and let’s not waste time being modest – I am confident in my looks. Most of these life attributes are consistent with the fact that I am twenty-five years old. So why should I have to wait until I’m thirty-five or forty-five (fuck that) years old to be successful in my career, when other things in my life may very well be much shittier by then.

I have to say I am really tired of the cliché advice I get from people who give the obligatory response that everyone feels this way, and only a very small percentage of people find professional success at a young age. But the thing is, it’s not like I’m trying to be Justin Bieber or Mary-Kate and Ashley, sitting on mountains of money and wildly famous before even being allowed to drink alcohol. I know it’s not a unique desire but I just want to be able to do what I love, get paid for it, and a little bit of recognition wouldn’t be so bad either.

According to the Buddhist practice of Zen, we should be thankful for what we have, embrace the things we love, and always live in the moment. Zen makes a good point. But sometimes I want to tell Zen to go fuck itself. Sometimes my “anti-Zen” thoughts get so negative that I actively wish for my peers to fail. Admitting that makes me seem like a huge asshole, and maybe sometimes I am a huge asshole. But I don’t want anyone I know, who has similar goals and aspirations as me, to become successful before I do. Fuck it. I said it.

I have become so obsessed with the idea of success, and simultaneously the idea of progress, that I won’t even keep a journal anymore because it seems like a waste of time. Why would I write something that no one will ever see, when instead I could write something that everyone might see?

Maybe I’m more afraid of my own mortality than I thought. I have a definite fear of failure, which ultimately means I’m afraid that I won’t achieve my goals before I die. It always feels like time is running out and my life is on a bullet train that I can’t slow down… What is the key to making it slow down? Are these feelings just a part of growing up or are we destined to feel unsatisfied throughout each phase of life? As I approach my twenty-sixth year on this planet I have more soul-searching to do than when I was an angsty teen. And all I really want for my birthday is a few answers and maybe some peace of mind. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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