I always worry that I’m not living right.
Some nights, after the clock has already struck 2 o’clock, I put down my pen and take a deep breath. I’ve been mindlessly doing schoolwork for hours and choking down energy drinks to keep my exhausted body functioning. And then I feel this sudden need to drive. I want to drop everything, fill my backpack with the bare necessities, and go. To forget who I am and what I’ve done, and watch all the mistakes I’ve made turn into specks in the rear-view window behind me.
The fascination with the open road has dominated my thoughts for quite some time now. In my reverie, I’m driving with one hand on the steering wheel and the other resting mindlessly out the window. Driving is therapeutic for me. Some people flinch at the thought of driving any longer than a half hour, but I can’t relate. It’s an escape. My favorite acoustic song is playing over the stereo, lulling me into a semi-dream state. It’s one that only happens when your mind is completely at ease. I’m wearing my favorite fraying sweatshirt, the one I got at Goodwill so many months ago. It has been used and now it’s used well by me too. It feels safe.
The sun is gradually sinking below the horizon and the colors are starting to fade into night. I don’t know many constellations, but seeing the sky full of stars fills me with euphoria I can’t get anywhere else. I am blissfully happy. Then reality suddenly takes over, jolting me back to the present mess of deadlines and checklists and reminding me that this kind of thinking is ridiculous. Is it really?
We were born for running, but sometimes life has a way of tricking us into thinking that the town we were raised in is our final and only destination. That the people you’ve already met and the paths you’ve gone down are…it. I don’t want to feel trapped. I don’t want to feel like what I’m doing is arbitrary.
Lately, I’m filled with nothing but self-doubt when it comes to my future.
Have you ever wondered what it’d be like to pack a bag, hop on a train, and go? To experience new things, stop in little coffee shops, just be? You weren’t meant to stay in one place, and your wandering mind and fragile heart deserve to be doing more than simply checking items off a list.
The postcards you’ve ripped from magazines and journals don’t exist for you to live through, but to live in. What a wonderful change of pace it must be, to make the open road your home and accept the ambiguity that lies before you. Hold on tight to the dreams you thought were only a fantasy; they are your lifelines in a world where our busy routines and demanding schedules are casting us farther out to sea.
Me? I’m stuck. I don’t feel like I have a home anywhere I go because the anxiety and doubt follow directly in my footsteps. Yet my bones ache to carry me to new places, to wear out the soles of my shoes and the ink in my pen. Pages and pages of my notebooks yearn to be filled with new experiences…but I can’t do that just yet. I dream of bigger things, but for now, I have to stay put. It’s not my time yet.
I’m looking towards to the future; this place can’t hold me forever. Grad school. A new city. Maybe even my own apartment. And exposure to things I can’t even begin to imagine. It all sounds picture perfect, and there’s almost always a catch – but I know I have to work for it. If my 20 years have taught me anything, it’s that nothing comes without stumbling blocks. I need to be ready for this challenge. If I have to stumble and fall and fall again, then so be it.
I want to feel in control for a change. The freedom that’s going to come with taking the long and winding road away from this town propels me forward. It provides me with the scraps I need so I don’t go hungry. These bits and pieces are more important than simply leftovers from my time here…they’re everything. They give me hope and point me in the direction I’ve wanted to go in for years, one where I finally figure out who I am and what I want. And they point to the thought of maybe one day spinning a globe, placing my finger on a spot, and heading out. That’s still far off yet.
Most of us don’t want to stay put and that’s completely natural. Don’t ever feel ashamed for wanting to spread your wings and settle somewhere new. We’re a people shaped by our amazing ability to adapt in difficult situations. We were built to move, adjust, readjust and readjust again; it’s who we are. I’m going to get through this next test, this next essay, this next year. I want to roam…but there are things I have to do first.
And no matter where I go, I’ll make the shirt on my back and the words in my journal the only home I need.