Real Life | Teen Ink

Real Life

August 9, 2013
By elaine69018 SILVER, Bellevue, Washington
elaine69018 SILVER, Bellevue, Washington
8 articles 2 photos 0 comments

“Oh, and another thing is that you get to walk around naked anytime you want.”
I half snorted, half laughed as I leaned back against my pillows, pressing the receiver to my ear. “Uh, awesome. What else?”
“Well, it’s just nice getting to make your own choices. Whether they’re smart or not. You get to control your own life. I mean, yesterday I was craving pizza at, like, 2 AM so I went out and got some down the street. Didn’t take me more than five minutes.” He paused. “It was pretty cool.”
As my older brother, who graduated from college the previous spring and lived in Brooklyn, continued to rattle off the perks of living in New York City, I glanced over at my night stand. Royal purple brochures and booklets with glittering skyscrapers and taxicabs blurred with movement on the covers strewed the desk, and a map detailing every campus building and street name within Greenwich Village encompassed the wall behind it. I closed my eyes and pictured standing in one of the photographs on the brochures, feeling the gusts of thousands of people jostling and moving in a pandemonium around me that were so familiar, yet distant. Only a few more years before I get out of this place, I thought to myself.
I had not envisioned my life to unravel the way it was currently. As I spent my days dreaming about moving to the other side of the country, I dismissed what I saw as the monotony of my sheltered suburban neighborhood, the conformity and close-mindedness I witnessed from my peers, and the suppression of my parents’ household rules- You have to be home before ten-thirty. Get off the computer, you need to sleep. You can’t have friends over when we’re not home, what were you thinking?
“Why New York?” my friends would ask, puzzled by my constant drive.
“I just love the vibrancy and energy of it all. I want to hang out in coffee shops all day and go on adventures like they do in Friends, you know? I want to work in an office with a view of the Empire State Building as a journalist or creative director of something and see new things and meet new and interesting people. I can’t wait for real life.”

But does real life begin at a single point in time? Does it start at the second I blow out my eighteenth birthday candles, or when I sign my name on the lease to buy my first apartment? Did I expect fireworks to erupt from the sky and a gleaming path to happiness to be laid out in front of me the moment I set foot in my dream city?

I had wasted years of my personal development, significant years that I overlooked in favor of a future that holds more opportunity for me, but which I foolishly idolatrized. I still long to sow the seeds of the city’s eclecticism and culture, to cultivate them into a blooming life, to finally be free. But I now realize that I, not my surroundings, determine whether my life blossoms or not. I see the golden trophy in the distance, shimmering in its perceived glory, but the hurdles I impatiently leap over to reach it are not what delay my life from beginning. These hurdles are my life.

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