At some point I developed this arbitrary belief that age 20 was the cut off for making something of myself. If I fell short of reaching some type of cultural relevance by this point, any success I achieved after would cease to mean anything. Sure, I would still have the rest of my life to be fiscally comfortable. Maybe I would still have nice things. Maybe I’d still be someone. But if it didn’t happen before my 20th birthday, it just wasn’t good enough.
I think I must have fallen prey to the Prodigious Young Someone syndrome. Anyone can be successful, but can they achieve a life of work before becoming a fully formed adult? Anyone can publish a book, but can they do it before they have arthritis? Anyone can change the world, but can they do it before they are a wrinkled version of their former self?
I am hovering at 20 and thinking, shit, this is it. I have a year ahead of me in which I must accomplish whatever in order to meet my self-imposed deadline. I have just six months to . . .I don’t even know what.
And what if I fail?
Seems likely. As it stands right now I’m not much to behold:
A 19 years old girl; mousy-haired, neurotically intense, chronically over-caffeinated and underfed.
Can’t crank out 5,000 + words a day but can keep her house super clean,
(maybe success is relative)
If I’m going to fail, I might as well aim to do so in line with how I do everything else: wholeheartedly. If failure is inevitable, I might as well fail exquisitely.
Sometimes when I see glaring disappointment staggering toward me on the horizon I just commit to it. I say, well, failure is imminent. So I might as well fail as deeply as I would have wanted to succeed.
Maybe that’s why I procrastinate doing what I love most: to fail at something that matters would hurt too much. Is that what they call a fear of falling — oh, but what if you fly? The anxiety never ends.
Even if I did fly, I’d suddenly be plagued by thoughts of inadequate air speed velocity. I’d fret about my wings breaking. The sky would start to bore me. My nests would be decidedly ugly.
I had a tidy little list of “must dos” that I wrote in a half-filled journal when I was fifteen, probably in blue ink that smudged my hand and smelled wet, like ink should. Back when I had 5 years to achieve these things, none of them seemed terribly difficult. In the home stretch now. I’m not fifteen anymore but damn if I don’t feel starkly pubescent and less of an adult now than I did then.
Publish a book. Or five.(Fifteen-year-old Komal, do eBooks count?)
See the world. Or at least more of it. (I saw a lot of Pakistan last year, surely that counts for something.)
Acquire a dog. (Okay, now we’re talking! I’ve done this! Though I think he actually acquired me.)
Be a classy woman that young women can look up to. (God help the girls who aspire to this. Whatever this is.)
Wake up glad to not be dead.
If I’m going to fail purposefully, beautifully, whimsically, this year then I suppose it’s better to get started rather than reflect in another year’s time and wonder what the hell happened. I suppose if I’m going to fail I might as well turn it into something slightly glamorous.
Maybe if I tack up my failures for you, publish them in a chapbook, expound them here, they’ll become something else. I’ll just lower my standards a bit.
Check in with me in a year.
See how my failures shine.