Sometimes, in nights like this, I lie awake and the realization of it all hits me: this is it. This is my life. This is what I have been preparing for the last 24 years of my life. I can stop holding my breath. This is it.
The problem with this thought, and the reason why I can’t sleep when I have this on my mind is that it is so damn scary. We have all been told to not wait for tomorrow and do what we want to do today because if we keep putting it off we might never do it. Then, on the other hand, we are told that we need to study, to do extracurriculars, to volunteer… to do everything we can to prepare ourselves for the future. What nobody ever tells you is what to do when this distant and blurry future becomes today. To be quite honest I feel as unprepared to fulfill my dreams as I felt ten years ago. I got good grades in school, I went to university and got my degree, then I decided I needed masters and I did that, but every time I apply for a job I feel like a fraud. I don’t see myself ready to do a “real life job”, that job that I will be doing for the rest of my life.
This is something that makes me afraid because, now, I don’t have any more goals to reach before I can actually say I’m ready. Ten years ago I was in exactly the same state of mind but I felt I had all the time in the world to figure things out. While now, I can say I have achieved all my academic and personal objectives but I still have no idea of where to go from here. The difference is that know I feel like I’m running out of time. I see my friends getting permanent contracts and getting closer to marriage but I’m as far from that as I am from Mars.
As I grew up I learnt that being an adult was about figuring out what you wanted and getting it: a job, a house, a partner. It seemed like these things came easily, that as long as you did everything right you would get them. Well, turns out, that is not how it works at all
That is why, in nights like this, I lie awake. However, there are other nights, not like this at all in which it hits me: this doesn’t have to be it. This is my life. This is my responsibility, I am the only one who decides if this is where I finish after 24 years of preparing.
The problem with these other nights is that they also bring me thoughts that are pretty scary. It is in these nights that I realize that I can be whoever I want to be and do whatever I want to do. I can go and live in a completely different country if I choose to do so. I can apply for those jobs that I have been trained to do. I could even decide to work as a freelancer. The thing is that I can do all of these things but I also know that they want come easy, that it is hard work.
Yes, these nights also make me afraid, but they do so in a completely different way. It is a mix of fear and excitement for all the possibilities that lie ahead of me, for not having my life decided yet, for knowing that I might fail and that that is not the end of the world and for being sure that there are still a lot of wonderful things to come.
So, sometimes I lie awake and I can’t sleep and I worry that this is it. I guess it is human nature. But those other nights, the ones in which I’m really honest with myself I know that, whatever happens, I will figure it out and that that is what being an adult is really about.