That Moment When You Realize You’re Stuck Being You For The Rest Of Your Life

Amy Clarke
Amy Clarke

I was sitting across from this blonde girl on the subway. Her haircut was all split ends and sharp and she held a viola case at her side and it occurred to me, for the first time, that I was stuck being myself for the rest of my life.

Like, it just hit me that I would never be this blonde girl on the train toting an instrument. People I will also never be: someone who can pull off dark lipstick; someone whose bangs make sense; someone who can remember what she read in a book just a week ago; someone who wears nightgowns to bed and wakes up early to cook scrambled eggs; someone who sits at a desk and handwrites thank you notes, fondly stroking her own penmanship in a moment of self-reflection and gratitude; someone who handwrites, period.

I have a sister who’s sixteen years my senior, which made her sort of unreal to me. Growing up, I would observe her life and make up stories about what my own would look like eventually. I pictured myself dating a tall, be-sweatered and brown-haired man who wore glasses and read books. We would live in the Columbia University dorms that I thought were regular apartments back then, and we would listen to records and burn incense and hang tapestries and own cats. I had seen my sister do these things—or maybe it was a character from A Different World—and I felt entitled to them. My 2D version of my sister would someday become my reality.

Thing was, I didn’t realize that indulging in those fantasies at age four, ten, fifteen was just one more thing I (the real person, me) was doing — like brushing my teeth, going to work. Fantasizing about the fake me wasn’t just a hobby the real me enjoyed, it was like I was unknowingly practicing “The Secret.” I’d always thought there would be some event, a Big Change, that would turn me into the person I imagined myself as. The person I was supposed to be. If I just focused enough, I would be “reborn” as the correct person.

Like, one day I’d magically stop stumbling over my words because that thing in my brain that tells me I need to get it all out at once would disappear. Or one day, all the things that made me who I am would be muted, all my past experiences made irrelevant, and I could get to the real business of knitting blankets or baking cookies or whatever the fantasy adult me enjoys doing. One day, I would wake up as a bad-haircut blonde on the train who plays the viola.

But these things are superficial; they couldn’t possibly fill up an existence. Hobbies and perspective and mindfulness are all just trimmings on the core of who I really am, and adding or deleting those things will still leave a whole lot of “me” behind. So I stared at this blonde thinking, “Fuck, I’m trapped being me for the rest of my life.” And later, I told myself, “Well. So is she.”

I wanted a 2D life because it’s easy. It’s a simpler way to exist. You can project whatever you want onto the baker or the musician. There’s no sadness for the woman who knits. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

This post originally appeared on Medium.

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