September 13, 2012
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She always wanted to live in the city. She loved it all - the noise, the crowds, the buildings, the late-night cafes, the culture and even the smog. It was all just so vibrant and so full of life. Now that she was finally here, in her own none-too-impressive apartment building, she felt more drained than ever. In all honesty, this contradiction didn’t really surprise her.

Blaming the fact that this was the first time that she was living on her own, Audrey stepped out onto the balcony and took a deep breath. It was 1:31 AM – the air had finally cooled down and the dust had settled. She peered ahead, only to see the ugly parking lot and the back of an abandoned warehouse blocking her view.

For the millionth time today, Audrey attempted to steer her mind in a more positive direction. For one thing, she had actually had the courage to move out, not to mention the fact that she was starting university in 2 days. She had nothing to complain about, seeing as her life was fitting into place piece by piece. At least that’s what her mother had said. This pep talk had lost its effect 12 hours ago.

Why did she have to make things hard for herself like this? She hadn’t even reached the peak point of her life, and yet she was wading knee-deep in worries that shouldn’t even exist. As much as this realization vexed her, she had to admit that this was better than lying to herself the whole day.

Audrey was crushed by the irrelevance of it all. Being in the city, she was reminded of her own insignificance, how she is just another face in the crowd, no different than those around her. Sure she would attend university, get a degree, settle down and eventually find a job. Then she would probably start a family, with a sensible husband and 2 kids. She’d devote the remainder of her life to raising her children – driving them to soccer practice, taking them on picnics, helping them choose their careers. After seeing her grandkids, her life would then come to an end, and she would drift away like the countless before her, to be remembered then inevitably forgotten.

Huh, she always had a flair for melodramatics. However, there was still more to the problem than what she had admitted. Truth be told, Audrey wouldn’t mind having this safe, planned and predictable future, as she sometimes wondered what it would be like had she been presumably “normal”. But she knew in her heart that she wouldn’t settle for anything less than what she had the potential to become. Fantasies of changing the world, of changing humanity and driving society forward fuelled her to push herself beyond her limits, always expecting more from herself and setting the bar higher every time. Despite her motivation, Audrey struggled with the fear that she would never fulfill these dreams, as the expectations spiraled above and beyond her own capabilities. Gripped by these fears, Audrey closed doors before she even opened them, seeing shadows in the light, seeing black instead of white.

She had hoped that moving to the city would somehow enable her to alter her perspective, and rise above these thoughts that had plagued her throughout the better part of her teenage years. After all, the city was the culmination of human development, fast-paced and ever changing with its diversity, growth and progress. It was harsh reality, swarming with more people than she had ever seen in her 18 years of life. And being smack dab in the middle of it all would somehow make her rise to the challenge and pursue her dreams with more vigor and determination than she had thought she possessed. With this newfound determination and drive, Audrey would make a name for herself, perhaps becoming a radical engineer, groundbreaking inventor, influential surgeon, passionate activist for women, unorthodox artist or even a world-class author. She would be different from the thousands of faces that pass by every day, she would be their inspiration. At least, that was how she pictured it.

By now she should have learned that she was far too idealistic. You would think that after 4 years of visionary thinking accompanied by depression and inactivity she would have learned her lesson. Apparently not. She knew exactly what the near future held for her. Hours, days, months, and years would be wasted with thought but no action. The years would roll on by, while Audrey would be too consumed within thoughts of “what could be”. Years that could have been put to good use changing the world. Instead, she would inevitably fall to the fate that she dreaded – the same fate as the faces surrounding her. In the end, none of it would matter. Sure she may have thought herself to be different, but that was only thought, something more insubstantial than the futility of existence itself.

Crushed under the weight of her thoughts, Audrey headed back inside. Perhaps tomorrow would be better. She doubted it, but something kept her going, something that prompted her to dream in the first place. If she could just ignite this flicker into a flame, then she would have the answer. Maybe tomorrow wouldn’t be so bad after all.

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