On Emergence, Nostalgically

You know those songs that always bring you back to a particularly poignant memory or moment?

Of course you do. The flashes of triumph you feel when you imagine the songs that accompanied your most brilliant moments, the song that nursed away your first heartbreak, pushing back the crushing sadness. There’s that perfect song for jogging, the perfect song for dancing in your kitchen.

For me, there will always be the Garden State soundtrack. I used to retreat to the bathtub and read and listen to it. It’s soothing. It’s not a moment for me, but a time period. Junior year of high school. The final set of struggle before the emergence of a more confident young woman.

It was an interesting time. I was testing the limits in many ways, pushing back against the very things I’d always taken at face value. I was plagued by the unknowns, the philosophical crises that stem from the inability to guess at what the future might hold. I believe that it was the looming promise of college and freedom that may have set off all of that thinking, but looking back on it, I feel as though it was more about the solidification of myself as a person than it was about anything else. I was settling into the next phase of life and of course, being actively engaged in that transformation, I had no idea.

I found this, a disjointed post I’d written quickly. I find it curious:

We’ve lost ourselves in a deconstructed fictional world. We’ve become the very things we were afraid of, that we wrote about in stories that were supposed to be far too far-fetched to ever become any sort of actual reality.

And yet here we are, thrust into a confrontation with our pasts and our fictional futures and instead of looking inward, we push blame, we make tender excuses, we tiptoe around the subject until we’ve lost sight of the original goal.

Gone are the days we thought the future held – in the third grade, I wanted to be a judge, the first woman president, both, all of it. And in the third grade, it was all just out of reach, attainable with hard work and dedication, the things that take you places. Of course, I reached.

And I found myself the very antithesis of everything I’d ever hoped for. You could say I was a serious child, but that would be an understatement. I realize now that every emotion I felt was tinged with a sense of nervousness, an eager anxiety that nibbled at me constantly. I became so self-aware that growth was impossible and instead, I reached for the only anchor I could find: peer acceptance. It had never mattered to me before.

The false idea that peer acceptance could make me happy changed my life. It was a startling realization. And of course, I panicked, handled it as well as, well, an awkward teenage girl, and then survived those awkward phases to grow into the young woman I am today.

(I hate the word “survivor.” My dad said it once, on Hampden, so I must have been in high school. He said to us, “Kids, we’re survivors.” And I scoffed, and I scoff to this day. I hated that. I hated that admission, that pretentious assumption of camaraderie, that weakness. We were not survivors.)

I left my old self behind in my search of light-heartedness, spontaneity, all of the things that they promise you’ll have in commercials. I wanted that.

I worked for it, I pushed it, I pulled it into place. Once it had settled over me, I was happy. For a long time. And then something shifted, there was a change in everything atmospheric and I was fraught with the same doubts that had preceded that first adult transition. I can’t help but wonder if now is one of those times, the current state merely a chrysalis in which I’ll grow and change and from which be reborn?

That idea of the bright light and the newness is what drives most humans, I get that. But maybe this time (like all the times so declared before it) will be different? This may be the second great emergence of my life. Or third. Whichever way you categorize it, this might be a big one.

My god. They sure do sneak up on you.

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