The day I realized my life is not a movie and I am not the main character of the universe, I became very happy.
I know that may sound like a very conceited statement to make, but if you really think about it, a lot of us have probably fallen victim to feeling like the protagonist of existence itself. We spend so much time with ourselves, the product of our memories, thoughts, and feelings; it’s easy to forget that there was a world before you, and the world will continue, long after you’re gone.
Particularly, as teenagers, we are so transfixed on figuring out who we are and what we want to do with our entire lives, as that is the expectation placed on us by our parents, teachers, and leaders. And although the world of teenage narcissism is rather annoying from an adult point of view, I also hold a lot of sympathy and actually feel it is quite essential for us to go through a period of growing pains and feeling like the entire world is about us.
Obviously, this comes with extremities. Particularly for myself as a teenager with low self-esteem , paralyzing anxiety, and an emotionally abusive father who frankly expected too much of me, I constantly felt like I was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders, followed forever by my privations, worries, and traumas.
As I have made my way into the world and completed my undergrad degree, and now continue to navigate my master’s, I find myself transfixed with the philosophies of absurdism, existentialism, and idealism. Although I am busier than ever, I often find myself bustling with energy and ideas, and a rush of excitement to try new hobbies. 2021 in particular has been a fantastic year for me to focus on discovering different shapes and identities within myself: an artist, a nurse, an (beginner level) adult ballet student. Although I am poor and count my quarters on the city bus, hoping I have enough for laundry at the end of the week, I feel as though I am overflowing with love, gratitude, and happiness, throwing it around like confetti. I am enjoying taking care of myself and challenging myself to learn more; not only about what it means to be me, but what it means to exist.
I think our personal sense of self and our relationship to our relationship to our meaning are closely interlocked. I am a personal believer that the world has no inherit meaning; we are the ones who paint meaning and beauty into our own lives. Our lives are our hour upon the stage, and we are to do with that as we please. Life, I decided, is too short for me to grieve and agonize over the things that have happened to me, or to even bother to plan for what may be ahead. I think one must understand that your life is going to surprise you in so many ways you can’t even imagine, so you’d ought to let go of what you can’t control and focus instead on how (and what) you resonate.
The world is not a movie that began when I was born; the credits of the universe will not roll when I die. I am merely a transient state in the fever dream of existence, and unaccepting the fact that I do not understand (and I don’t need to worry about understanding) has given me the piece of mind to stop focusing on what everyone else experts of me, and focus instead on what I want for myself in my brief window of time.
Hold on to what you love, tell people how you feel, and experience every emotion, every passion and every grief to the best of your soul’s ability to do so. Because when you’re gone, you won’t have a chance to make it matter again.