I know someone who has been in a movie and a TV show. I’m not talking your regular low-budget indie film, either. I’m talking Marvel, stunt-doubling for main characters.
I know a model, too, who is in a relationship that is basically goals, is obviously absolutely gorgeous and actually lives life and loves her job, and I know someone else who is doing internships and looking forward to her graduation, who is probably going to become a brilliant psychologist one day.
Let’s just say I’m falling a little flat in comparison.
(If I could put my life vs. theirs in a picture, this about sums it up.)
I grew up with each of them in one way or another—two I’ve known since elementary school, one since the dawn of diapers. And we are all extremely different, ranging from kick-ass martial artist to stunningly intellectual to…well, me.
My (incomplete) story is this: I didn’t start taking advanced classes until my sophomore year in high school. I joined my school’s International Baccalaureate program simply because I liked being around those people, but I wasn’t motivated enough to actually try to get an IB certificate or diploma; as long as I passed my classes and was able to stay in them and with those people whose presences I loved so much, I was content (I’m currently only friends with 2 out of maybe 11 or 12 of those people now).
From age 8 to age 18 I was positive I wanted to be a singer. Nothing else mattered. But from age 8 to 18 the best I did was school talent shows and choir competitions I barely practiced for. I relegated myself to drummer so I could start an all-girl band in my last two years of high school that fizzled out before it could even catch flame. Looking back on it, it all feels like a really bad, mortifying joke that still kind of hurts. Roast me, internet (I’m kidding, please don’t).
Then I decided I’d do something that I could trust myself better with, and I started college believing I would and could contentedly study languages. I’d become a translator, freelance translate for a few cents a word while I traveled the world, sink my feet in the sand and sip margaritas. After all, I love language, I love the feeling of fluidity when I could speak full sentences and understand a few full sentences in return, and I love culture. I love embracing different aspects of people, seeing all of the variances of life.
My goal was to go to community college, get my Associate’s degree in Liberal Arts focusing on Japanese, and then transfer to university and get a bachelor’s degree in modern languages and Japanese.
But then, not even a year in, I caught the art bug again. See, my whole life I’ve been somewhat of a virtuoso. I don’t mean to say that I’m some kind of musical genius, but I do feel things as opposed to understanding them wholly technically. I could never seem to focus in school because my head was stuck in a song or a story or an image I wanted to etch out onto paper. And I could try harder to focus, but what was the point? Neverland was so much better. But I never started something and saw it all the way through. I might have finished both lyrics and piano instrumentals to one song out of hundreds I’ve started, or gotten sixty pages into a story that probably couldn’t be told in a thousand. I finished several drawings that I’m proud of but almost always failed to add color when I wanted to. Let’s not even talk about the comics I tried to make.
My motivation dissipated. Again. No matter how I look at it, no matter how much I love language and culture, being a translator isn’t the life that I want. It’s not worth going into debt for. It’s not worth the misery of tallying hours poring over subjects that have nothing to do with it.
And so, in comparison to those amazing girls, here I am. Working in retail, struggling to get a two year degree three years in, probably gaining weight and losing muscle mass, and fighting to peel myself out of bed every day to take care of my responsibilities. I probably sleep half of my day away on a far too regular basis (if I could get paid to snuggle up with my cat and a blanket and sleep, that would be heavenly) . At one point, I could get up at five in the morning and take my dog on a run even after working until ten o’clock at night the night before. I fell right off the wagon when my grandmother passed away, and even though that was just months ago, I feel like the me that I was back then is some sort of wild sorceress. I recently had a Friday off (that’s about as rare as a unicorn) and spent it perched on the couch, telling myself to leave the snacks alone, and binge-watching Beauty and the Beast on Netflix.
Tomorrow, I’ll be 21 years young, and this is who I am right now. This is where I’m at. It’s not what anyone would call ‘okay’. If I were to place my worth here or compare myself to who I dreamed I’d be by now, I’d be immensely disappointed in myself. But this isn’t where I intend to stay. Change comes from identifying everything that’s holding you back and fixing it. In my case, it’s working on my self-doubts, my crippling fears, my blatantly obvious commitment issues…and it’s giving myself room to breathe. It’s forgiving myself for not living up to my own standards so that when I do build myself up again, I’m spared that bitterness.
So, to me, the Bumbling Adult is just that—it’s me, trying to figure life out, find which direction is forward and move in it. It’s me holding myself accountable, stretching my wings and pushing myself forward, even if it’s just by inches. I’m no actress or model or successful student with her bright future as a college-grad right on the horizon. I’ve still got a long way to go before I can be truly content and feel like I’ve got any kind of boasting rights. But if the best thing I can say for myself in this moment is that I’m still going, that I’m still trying, then that’s enough for now.