One year away from graduating, and a couple months away from completing my year abroad, and to be honest, I’m rather stressed. My thoughts keep drifting to the future, and the ever looming fear that my life’s achievements peaked in high school doesn’t help. I have always dreamt big, and I don’t think that will ever change, but the worry that I’m not advancing and progressing as quickly as I need to to achieve all that I want to achieve, makes everything feel that much harder. I think about my plan, my next steps; do a masters, work on a production crew, gain experience, write my own films, make my own films, work my way up the ladder… It all just feels like if one part crumbles away, if I don’t quite hit the mark, it’ll all fall apart, and it’s terrifying. Of course, I’ve never been one to give up, and if one plan fails, you make another. Yet the whole idea that I turn 21 this year, and my childhood is now behind me, just leaves me without words. My life is flashing past, and I don’t want to look back in old age and have wasted it.

I feel like these are just typical thoughts for anyone my age. I know so many of my friends who are working under piles of stress, with impending deadlines and mountains of work. We’re all dealing with it one way or another, but that doesn’t mean it’s not taking its toll. Speaking with one of my friends also on their year abroad, I realised how many similarities in our experience we shared while living in another country. There is stress, worry, and loneliness, and it’s very hard to get away from for long. Yes, year abroads are full of adventure and excitement, and I am glad to have had the opportunity to travel across the world and study, but there are also down sides and challenges that make the experience somewhat mixed. I’m not trying to look a gift horse in the mouth, I’m just trying to be honest when I say year abroads aren’t easy. I had to get on a plane on my own, travel across the world, figure out where I was going to stay, register for classes and make sure it was the right ones, tackle the language barrier as best I could, and try not to spend my days being too homesick to enjoy the exciting new world around me. None of it is easy, but you do it because it’s what you have to do. It’s life. It has made me learn a lot though, about myself, and it’s changed me. I like to think I’m better at rolling with the punches, and not getting as worked up about the things I cannot change. Yet, here I am still stressed about my future.

I’ve been trying to find a resolve that will somehow help me be less worried about everything in life that is yet to come, but I keep coming up short. The future will happen and it’ll be what it’ll be. I know I just have to give it my best shot, to keep trying, never give up on what I want, but the little voice in my head that’s stressing out keeps saying “what if it’s not enough?” and that’s what gets me. You can throw everything you have into something, and it still might not be enough, and that is what gets me so worked up. We aim to graduate hoping that afterwards we can achieve something worthwhile, that we can go out into the world and excel at something that makes a difference in the world. Rewatching the 2013 Wesleyan University Commencement Speech by Joss Whedon (yes, I said rewatching, and I thoroughly recommend it if you need a laugh and some inspiration) I kept thinking about how much I want to do, and the likelihood of achieving it. I am reaching as Whedon put it, the “black diamond mobile run to the grave”, but if I can change the world for the better before that eventual death, I think I’m okay with that. Because what is the point of doing anything if it doesn’t help those who come after you, those who are capable of more than you, those who need guidance and assurance…

I keep stressing out about my future and what it holds, what growing up means for me apart from taxes and death… Without going into full existential crisis mode, I want to make my life worth something and that is a scary prospect. The journey is said to be the best part, and I don’t dispute that, but it doesn’t make it any easier, or any less frightening. Going back to another thing Whedon said in his speech, “what you do with all your heart, you will do the opposite of” I think of the constant contradictions in my mind that cause so many of my stresses. With all my heart I want to do something that makes a positive difference in the world, and yet there are also parts of me who say that it’s easier and better to do something else… And I have to challenge myself to keep going, to work harder, to get where I want to go, so I can achieve what I want to achieve. I see what I’ve done so far at university, and I know that I did not make the most of my time there. Whether it was fear, feeling overwhelmed, or just laziness, I didn’t do all the things I wanted to. I hope next year, and even now, I can make up for some of that, but all this really does is add to the pile of stress I’m already dealing with. I just hope that all this pressure will eventually pay off in one way or another.

I have always been my own worst critic, and I likely always will be. I tell myself I have time to turn it around, and there are always second chances, but in this short life we live I hate the fact I’ve wasted so much of my life already for silly reasons. I know I’m just human, and life does just tend to get in the way, but I just want to be able to fit more in to my life before it’s all over. I want to end on a more cheery note, because I am hopeful for the future and what it holds, I look forward to what it brings, I just also know all the worries and fears I have too, and they don’t go away easily. I just have to take my mum’s advice and take one day at a time. Life’s hard enough without being hard on yourself.

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