That one day I’ll wake up and discover I’m average. That nothing stands out about me. That I have no discerning qualities, no noteworthy characteristics, that nothing within me thirsts for more. That one day, I’ll discover I’m unremarkable. That one day, I’ll just be a shadow.
I know a few things about this must seem ridiculous. Firstly, that from all the fears in the world, from venomous snakes to crazed killers to the uncertainty of death, that being ordinary would be what petrifies me. But I’m not afraid of anything else, and I’m not ashamed to admit the cause of my deepest anxiety. Or that the first time I finished Don Quixote, I sat back in the stillness of the dead night and struggled to steady my breath. On those last pages, within which he stopped believing in his fantasy world, in his kingdom of virtuous knights and epic battles, and he died. And I knew him too well, understood that too deeply.
Secondly, that I’m sharing something so intimate with a universe of people I do not know. But if you’ve ever felt this way, I think I do know you. I know that your friends suggest you put too much pressure on yourself, that your family tells you to stop pushing so hard. That if you stop worrying and focus on the things you can control, you’d enjoy life a whole lot more. That if you just stopped reaching for things so far out of your grasp, you’d be happier. That you should learn to relax. To unwind. To be.
They have a point. If you stopped, you would be happier. Your every day would be calmer. Your waking moments would be filled with peace instead of crippling desire, with tranquility instead of pulsing ambition, with delicious gratitude instead of unquenchable thirst.
But some of us simply cannot. Like Don Quixote before us, if we stop fighting, we will cease to exist. Our armor will rust, our spirits will wilt, and our souls will fade until we are unrecognizable. All that will remain will be a memory of the people we once were. Because without our dreams, who are we?
The only way to become unremarkable is to believe that you are. To give in to your fear. To hang your sword and turn away from the battle. In Don Quixote’s own words: “I know who I am and who I may be, if I choose.”
It’s your choice. Choose to believe.