Freshmen year. The first year of the next four years of your life. A fresh start. A new beginning. No more hormone-crazy 12-year olds and 13-year old drama queens. None of that. No more of—
Freshmen year means a lot of things. It’s not just a transition from middle school to a bigger building. It’s not just weekly exams and the impending doom of college applications. It’s more than that. Perhaps more than the newly opened doors and people you meet along the way. Perhaps more than carving out a future for yourself. Freshmen year is—
Ah, boys, prom, AP classes, college applications, clubs, and the SATs of course. They’re all things enough to keep any freshmen up at night. Because let’s be honest. Most of us have no idea what we’re going to do with out lives. And that’s where freshmen year steps in. It’s the time to start—
I’m getting nowhere, am I? You know what, let’s skip the introductions.
Here’s what happened freshmen year:
I got lost.
Everything in the beginning was pure crap. You don’t find yourself during freshmen year. At least, I didn’t.
It sounds like I’m complaining a little too soon though, doesn’t it? Afterall, I still have sophomore year and junior year and senior year and hell, even college!
But this is coming from someone who’s always known what to do with her life. This is coming from someone who knew what she was going to be with an unshakeable certainty since she was eight. This is coming from someone who’s always been the kid to have her whole future planned out, who knew what college she was going to apply to, what she was going to major in, what kind of home she was going to live in, what kind of impact she was going to have on the world. This is coming from the kid who loved to read and write and draw and dream and hope because there was so much to read and write and draw and dream and hope about. This is coming from the kid who actually looked forward to growing up because gosh darn, being an adult sounded like a hell lot of opportunity. This is coming from the kid who knew she was going to become a writer someday. This is coming from the kid who knew was going to watch her books hit the shelves and become bestsellers and whose characters would join her readers’ circle of imaginary friends because that’s what her own favorite characters did. This is coming from the kid whose first priority wasn’t making money or paying the bills even though she knew those things were important. This is coming from the kid whose first priority was to make art. No, that was second one. Her first priority was to dream.
But I no longer dream. I no longer create art for the sake of art anymore. I no longer write because I’ve got characters in my head that won’t shut up unless I put them on a page (those characters have long gone quiet). I no longer write because the words in my mind sound beautiful and even more beautiful on paper (the words no longer sound so beautiful). I no longer write just for the sake of writing. I no longer write to create art. And you see this, this piece you’re reading right now, this isn’t art. This is therapy.
Much-needed therapy for the fact that I feel like I’m riding a train headed to nowhere, speeding through a tunnel headed to nowhere, trapped in this journey of being headed to nowhere.
What happened? To that art, to reading, to dreaming? Since when did I start scrolling through a list of occupations, ignoring the job titles and descriptions, only to stop at a salary that seemed “big enough”? Since when did I lack so much passion and motivation for anything, since when did the future sound like some dreaded chore I couldn’t wait to get over with? Since when did I not want to be a writer, since when did I not want to be anything at all? Did I simply grow up too fast to notice the change? Did freshmen year eat me up that quickly, suck out the kid inside me? Or did I simply get so caught up in the daily grind of things that I forgot the characters in my head, let them starve without my constant attention? What happened? How did I get here, so stranded, so lost on this train to what feels like nowhere?
I guess I thought that freshmen year was meant to help me find myself, find the kid, but I just lost us both even more.
I know. I know what you’re probably thinking. It’s just the first year, give it time, things’ll get better, you’re still young, yada, yada. And you might just be right. Sophomore, junior, senior year, maybe the characters in my head’ll start knocking again, start driving me mad with all their insisting on me letting them out onto paper. And maybe then, I’ll take good care of them. Maybe then, I’ll start creating art for the sake of art. Maybe then, I’ll start dreaming again. Or maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll keep drowning out the characters in my head with all the static of the daily grind. Maybe I’ll keep riding this train to nowhere because maybe that’s where I belong when I’ve lost the ability to dream: nowhere.
Maybe I’ll find myself, maybe I won’t.
Maybe I’ll dream and maybe I’ll just end up at the same place I started when I began this piece: