Making It Up As I Go Along
Like most twenty-somethings (if not all), I’m trying to figure out what to do with my life. And it’s hard as shit. I was supposed to do this when I was eighteen, but I’m a bit of a procrastinator, so I’m still trying to decide what it is that I want to spend my one and only existence on. It’s kind of overwhelming.
Not only am I trying to figure out what to do for the next (potentially) 60 or so years, but I’m also trying to figure out who I am as a person. Honestly, I don’t really know. I thought college would help me figure it out. It’s supposed to, isn’t it? But I think it made my identity crisis worse.
I think there was a time that I was so sure of who I was, but when I look back on it, I realize I was just a list of surface-level labels that I identified with to make myself feel special. I’m left-handed, an only child, a non-believer, far left, yada yada yada. When I was in high school, all these things made me different. After all, there were only two other only children and two other left-handed kids in my grade, and I was the only one that was both.
I was vegetarian from when I was 12 to 18, so basically all through junior high and high school. I remember one day one of my classmates said I was only doing it to be different, so I could feel unique. While that’s not exactly right, it’s at least partially true. Sure, like 90% of the reason I did it was for ethical/moral reasons, but I can’t deny the fact that I loved being different in that regard. I had another label to add to the list that made me stand out.
At the time, I thought all the things that made me different from everyone were what made me special. It’s who I was. I was the odd one out, and I liked it.
Now, I realize all these things aren’t who I am, they’re just things that I happen to be. And I don’t want to be defined by these attributes anymore.
At some point (I think in college, probably), I started defining myself by an entirely new set of attributes. My narcolepsy, my depression, my weight, my regrets, and my failures.
But I have seen time and time again that people are more than their disabilities. And I have been told over and over again that I am more than my mental illness. And that weight is just a number. And that I am not only made up of my mistakes. And I have been told repeatedly that I’m not a failure.
So then, what am I?
Who am I, if I am not these things?
What makes up me as a person?
If I could pick, I think I’d like to be made of the fun times I’ve had with my friends. I’d like to be made of the dinner party I had in high school, the weekly late night romcoms in my dorm’s basement, and the spontaneous iHop trips in my minivan.
I’d like to made of the places I’ve traveled. I want to be made of Puerto Rican sunshine and the crystal waters of Anguilla, Canadian castles and New York City skyscrapers, California palm trees and Grand Canyon rocks.
I want to be made of the things that make me happy. I want to be comprised of pins and stickers, old books and chai lattes, sweaters and cookies, rainbows and stars.
I want to be a writer, a photographer, a baker, an actress, a florist, a gardener, a painter.
I want to be kind, generous, friendly, helpful, nice, and most of all I want to be a good person.
I don’t really know who I am yet. Or what I’m doing with my life. But I hope that while I’m figuring it out, I manage to do some good things along the way.