Future Anxiety

December 4, 2007
Ever think about what your life would be like in five years? How about ten? Even twenty years from right now? Teens all over the world think about their future on a regular basis. Where they will go to college, who will take them to prom, where their life will take them; And as much as we think about the future constantly, I believe it has become quite certain that recently, teens have witnessed the cold hard truth about life, and how quickly it can end. I know I shouldn’t think this way, but sometimes, more often than none, I find myself thinking about the way life would be if I were to die tomorrow, than what my life will be like in the future.

As everyone knows, the reputation of Wakefield High School is not one of the best. “The kids of Wakefield must be cursed” leaves a commenter to an article in the News and Observer. Hearing these words makes me think that it is in our fate to die young. I’ve watched it happen to too many of my friends, and I can’t help but think, “What if I’m next.” Being a teenager, we are taught that at any moment, and any time, this could happen to any of us. We are taught to not be so naive to think that we are invincible and we can live through anything, because clearly; we can’t. In these past three years of my life, I’ve come to find my head wandering off in places where it never should be. “What if it were me in the car?” “What if this was my funeral?” “Would I have done anything different?” I know that these thoughts do nothing but scare me, and I try not to think this way, but somehow, every night as I close my eyes, I find myself asking these same questions over and over again.

I have racked my brain countless numbers of times to ask myself, “Why didn’t I spend more time with Sadiki?” “Why did Jaimee and I have to get in a fight before high school?” or “Why didn’t I give AB one last hug when I saw him at the basketball game?” And the only conclusion that I can come up with is I didn’t know. I didn’t know I would never have more time to spend with him, and I certainly didn’t know it would be mine and Jaimee’s last fight. And if I did, would I have done something differently? Absolutely. There is no doubt in my mind that I would have apologized for whatever dumb reason it was this time that we were in an argument. And I wish I could go back to return all of the borrowed clothes, or just to tell her my newest drama, but thinking this in my head gets me nowhere. All it does is fill my head with hopeless dreams that I know can never come true. “If” is possibly the worst word in the human vocabulary. It leaves people devastating themselves thinking that things could end up differently, when the truth is, you will never know. It would be great if you could go back and change something, but you can’t. And you will never be able to. So stop living for if’s, and start living for right now’s. Although I can never go back and tell Jaimee I love her one last time, I can tell Keryn I love her today. Or Allison, or Brooke, or Bill. Because just as easily as I think “what if I had one last day with her?” I can say “what if this were my last day” and where I am right now, is not where I want to end up. I want to have a long life, get married, have kids, and be someone in this world. And I strongly believe that I have the potential to.

I have learned so much in my high school experience. And not just something that I will forget in a week, like what year George Washington made the Whiskey Rebellion, but I have learned things that have changed my life, and that will stay with me forever. And as much as I hate that I have learned all these things at the expense of someone’s life, I can’t help but wonder maybe this is how it was supposed to be. I am still a sponge, soaking in everything I come in contact with, and the lessons I learn today will help me in my struggles tomorrow. So even though I know tonight while I lay my head down, questions like “I wonder if I would be buried next to Jaimee?” will unravel in my mind, hopefully one day I will be able to take those thoughts and be a stronger person because of them. I will keep those thoughts in my head, and thrive off of them, because although I may die tomorrow, I am alive today. I am alive right now, and as for right now, I am happy.

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