Sometimes I can trick myself into thinking I missed my true calling.
I don’t know if this is an everyone thing or something that is specific to my social media algorithms, but there always seems to be an account pop up for someone who is exceedingly talented in a very niche industry, like knitting colorful sweaters or crafting beautiful ceramics, to name a couple. I find myself enthralled by their seemingly effortless talent and think, “These people must be nuanced and kind and humble, and I’m sure they are able to channel any negative energy or self doubt into these eccentric hobbies. I’m sure they never worry about petty, worldly things.”
Recently, I find myself enchanted with these out-of-reach talents or hobbies more and more, wishing I could do away with the daily humdrum of school and decision-making which currently consumes my life and retreat to a more worry-free life path. Instead of applying for jobs and reckoning with the inevitable endings and new beginnings that will soon take place, I romanticize countless, less tangible options.
Why is it so hard to live in the interim? To live in the spaces that are gray and full of ambiguity and unmade decisions? Why do we try so hard to avoid these seasons when, in reality, we are almost always living in these spaces, whether we realize it or not?
I am well beyond the halfway mark of senior year at this point, and I find myself kicking and screaming in avoidance of these unknowns. They are uncomfortable and unreliable, and the feelings which surround them are difficult to comprehend and articulate.
The coping mechanisms tend to look different each week: At times I use the facade of “being really content in the present,” and then, all at once, I’m panicked, aimless, suddenly wishing I was a wildy content ceramicist in New Mexico. This imagery is less scary because it is much farther from my reality. Because my reality includes the possibility of failing at something I care a great deal about.
I hate making mistakes, and I wish I didn’t make so many of them, especially with the things I care about. But I guess that’s part of the bargain, the deal we make: With caring comes inevitable disappointment and a standard that can’t always be reached. Sometimes I start to wonder if it’s worth it (thus explaining my daydreaming about becoming a fulltime knitter and residing in a comfortable, unassuming apartment somewhere far away). Sometimes I want to do away with risk and lofty expectations and stop caring so much. I want to roll over and scream at the universe, “Fine, you win.” But I know that wouldn’t be me talking, and it wouldn’t be what I ultimately want.
I want to write. I want to communicate with others, reminding them that their stories matter and deserve to be shared. I wish to have impact and to be impacted, to welcome and to be welcomed, to challenge and to be challenged. I want to strike the sweet spot between growing and stretching, and between being encouraged and supported. Wouldn’t this be great?
I ultimately want to care, and I need to care. In general, the world needs more people who care. We need more people who aren’t afraid of getting knocked down a few times, of feeling defeated or disappointed over something that really matters. Because if we don’t care about the things that matter, then what is left?
If you are the gifted ceramicist of which I speak, be that; if you’re the skilled knitter, chase that. No matter what your thing is, keep caring and trying. It is acceptable to be fragile for what matters to us — to be rattled by hardship and shortcomings when we’ve tried our best. But we must try our best, and we must continue to care.