Image from Provencial Magazine’s Volume One Kickstarter campaign, which I love, and you can support here!
Life— yours, mine, ours, anyone’s, really— never seems to come together all at once. Nothing does. Not a settled life, not a satisfying career, not even a batch of chocolate chip cookies. It all takes time to cook.
Despite having been in the oven for 23 years now, I still feel the growing pains of reaching what I like to call “real personhood.” It comes and goes in waves, this feeling of trying to catch up and stopping every few feet short of breath; that nothing’s going to plan, that maybe there was never even a feasible plan to begin with. I feel self-assuredness and self-doubt in almost equal measure, and when I look around at my friends and peers, I can’t feel like a freak because all of them are in the same boat.
Sometimes it feels like everything will be okay and work itself out, sometimes it feels like everything in the future will go to shit, and sometimes, most of the time even, I’m just fine. I have recurring positive epiphanies I might’ve picked up at a yoga class somewhere and find to be momentarily reassuring: “Everything will be alright in the end,” “Everything happens for a reason,” “I am allowing my life to positively unfold,” “All good things take time,” “No one ever really had their shit together at 23, anyway.”
Yet I still am left with no concrete answer to the ultimate question of when a lasting semblance of real personhood will kick in.
I feel no more prepared for the world than I ever was. I feel no more responsible, no more learned, no less green. Sometimes I feel guilty. My parents have spent what amounts to several hundred thousand dollars on my education, and for what? So I can tell you the capital of Venezuela is Caracas or Michigan’s state bird is the robin? So I could recite various conjugations of irregular verbs in French if you asked?
Armed with a college degree, I sometimes feels like I’m wielding a pool noodle in a battlefield. Where’s my sword? Where are the tools that were supposed to have equipped me in the trenches of adulthood? Will I ever feel completely prepared to go into battle? Does anyone?
I guess the only reasonable conclusion I’ve arrived at is that in order to face a battle, you have to not only sharpen your sword but be ready for whatever’s thrown at you. Most of the time, it’s not as bad as you thought it would be. But in any event, you have to adapt to whatever’s happening in the present moment, and that’s something that can’t be prepared but acted on.
Besides, no one ever feels totally prepared for what comes next. You just have to keep mixing the batter.