Life is short, no, really, it’s very short. I still can’t believe how old I am, and people around me are still telling me I’m too young to feel old. I wonder sometimes, how old will I feel when people stop telling me that? I’m sure you’ve read in previous posts about how I studied fashion design, and how I was involved in the arts for a while. This is all true since I was a kid I thought that I would become a fashion designer. But what is also true is that I thought I would be so many other things as well. The last thing that I thought I would be is a wandering English teacher, working on a doctorate and not knowing all that well where she will be during that time or why she even cares to follow those goals in the first place.
I’ve been going through a crisis lately, and I don’t want to be cliché and call it an “identity crisis”, primordially because I feel that to call a state of limbo when it comes to your studies or your career an identity crisis, means to place all of your worth in exactly that. But see, for years I did place my identity in that and I’m currently shaking off the habit. I’d like to say that I had placed my identity in Christ and that God would follow through, that I would fulfill the purposes he had for me, but I truly didn’t do that, not fully at least. Since I was old enough to make a decision about my career goals I knew what I would do and what I would be, long before knowing who I was going to become. I now see the error in my ways. Hindsight is 20/20 they say, I completely understand the point of that phrase now. The game of life isn’t played right, what I mean by that is, just when you’re figuring out how to be a child you have to grow up and be an adult in a world that is constantly telling you to grow up, but not how to properly do it. We are kids in high school, yes, kids! Not teenagers, not adolescents, or young adults, we are still kids. Children with children mentalities, with childlike dreams and ambitions, with a skewered sense of reality and the world around us, and with everything that leaves us swimming in kiddie pools and asking for stickers at the end of every life doctor visit. We have expectations, giant ones, unforgiving and impossible ideas for ourselves, and way too many people telling us to not give them up because “all dreams come true”. Do they? Do all dreams actually come true? This is going to sound like the bleakest of thoughts, but I will say that nothing in life had ever scared me more than a number of dreams left unfulfilled and lives left unlived. I always wondered what it would be like to get to a ripe old age wondering why on earth you never became the thing you wanted to become. But I see things differently now. Becoming is not becoming something, but simply becoming.
I always saw life as a straight line going in one direction (preferably up) and that my dreams and willingness to go after them would help me to achieve that. But along the way you pick up things, you take detours, you spend the nights at many hotels of indecision and lengthy conversations. You miss your flights, you have to stick around and wait for others, people steal your seat on the train and you have no use but to sit there and watch them steal it… the point is, life is anything but a straight line. I’ve learned that people who had their lives completely set by the time they were 21, may be fighting to figure out what to do now that they are 45 and have lost everything, I’ve learned that you don’t always get what you want, and even though people tell you to try harder, sometimes you have to ask yourself if you actually really want to or if you’re just doing it because that’s what you think you’re supposed to do, try harder. I faced many hardships in design school, but I think the greatest hardship I faced was coming to the secret realization that I wanted nothing to do with the fashion world and that I found the show Project Runway or anything like it to be extremely boring and underwhelming. I wasn’t cut out for that world, but I told myself and everyone else so many times that I was, that I couldn’t back off on that word. That’s what happens when you fight for something so long, you think you have to keep fighting for it, long after you’ve realized that fight isn’t even yours anymore. I say secret realization because sometimes you realize things sooner than you’d let off, but you have to keep defending yourself from yourself in front of other people.
Have you ever stood at a stop light, waiting to cross the street at night in a big city? A city that’s normally bustling with people but for some reason now is relatively empty and you feel like you’re there all alone? Try to picture it. You’re standing there, waiting for the lights to turn green and looking across at all of the other red lights, the lack of cars, or people, perhaps a few couples remaining crossing streets further along and it happens… all of the lights turn green at the same time, and the glow of them splatters across your face. It feels like freedom, except no one is really there to share it with you, and you just walk. There’s something exhilarating about having all lights turn green at the same time in a big city, and most especially when the city is all yours. I live for those little moments, because they remind me of other things, things like this topic for instance. I’ve never had all of my lights turn green with my career, and I don’t know how I feel about it anymore. I studied something I loved to do as a kid, but I was a kid. I’m not a kid anymore, and I’ve realized that I idealized a world and a job that I would grow to not only dislike but sort of ignore. I grew apart from what I chose to be my career and it is only natural that it would be that way. Most 16-year-olds don’t know or shouldn’t know exactly what they want to be for the rest of their lives, and most of us end up having to switch up anyways. I thought that I would be happy as a fashion designer, but in retrospect, there were too many signs that I wouldn’t be. I saw myself differently as a teen, and even through college, and even through my early twenties. I am not the person I thought I was, and even though it sounds like perhaps I might have changed, I didn’t, I just woke up. Lights weren’t turning green for me, and that was a big sign that was pointing me away from a future I didn’t belong in. I have learned to let life flow and to let go. Even when I want to fight, but most importantly, even when everyone else is telling me to “not give up”, sometimes giving up and letting go is exactly the opposite of what it sounds like. By giving up, I don’t give up on finding my true purpose.
Maybe we have it all wrong, maybe we shouldn’t expect our children to know what they want to be and expect them to have it figured out by the time they get out of the most confusing ages for humans to go through. Maybe we shouldn’t expect to have colleges and universities filled with 17 and 18-year-olds that still want to be kids, but want to experience life all at once, it’s never made a good combination if you ask me. How are you supposed to know? Aptitude tests and personality quizzes don’t give us many answers, and those who don’t know are forever marginalized by society for not knowing what they want to be and needing time to find out. Things have changed, even from when I began university 10 years ago, things have drastically changed. My parents always told me that studying and getting good grades was everything I needed in life to succeed (career wise) and I took those words to heart along with millions of other teens my age. But even they didn’t expect that 10 years later we would all be rethinking the number of loans we got and sharing flats with 6 or 7 roommates in the same or worse situation than ourselves. I had two roads left with fashion: be the slave of an inconsiderate dragon woman and write my own version of The Devil Wears Prada a few years later while I woke up in cold sweats about the amount of time I wasted letting someone be verbally abusive to me, or become incredibly rich enough overnight to start my own line and boutique like I wanted. All of that, of course, consisted with mingling, making contacts, and my least favorite word of all time “networking”. I hate the word networking, social networking… networking. Why? What is a network? Every time I imagine myself “networking”, I sweat a little bit and imagine everyone dressed up as spiders making spider webs (don’t ask).
Now that I’m in my last year of my crazy twenties I have come to the realization that whilst still very interested in dressing well and beautiful aesthetics, the last thing I think about in the morning is how I can get a job in the fashion industry, even though I’ve spent the last 10 years preparing for just that. I don’t like fashion. I fear it doesn’t give me the satisfaction of truly making the difference, and the change I want to make in the world. I fear that it leaves me confined to a select audience, to a select group of people, whom although may be wonderfully talented are so out of reach that they are barely human anymore. I fear that I may want to be a part of something bigger than creating works of art people wear, and the fact that I don’t find this as something big when so many do is the exact indicator of the fact that perhaps I was never meant to do this. I will admit that when it comes to my career I am lost now, even as my doctorate will once again have to do with fashion, I feel lost. I catch myself reading about astronomy a lot, about the conditions of the ocean waters, about archeological discoveries, and I remember an even younger me who hadn’t become obsessed with fashion and was happy digging holes in the backyard which I thought would lead me to a dinosaur bone. Sometimes I tell myself it’s all my fault, I’ve always had too many interests, perhaps like a stereotypical “Gemini” I can’t keep my attention on one thing for too long, but the truth is my heart has been missing something for a long time. I’m either all in, or nowhere near the vicinity, but if there’s anything that bothers me in life is being somewhere in the middle. That’s where I am, somewhere in the middle.
Where are you?