I have always, essentially, been waiting. Waiting to become something else, waiting to be that person I always thought I was on the verge of becoming, waiting for that life I thought I would have. In my head, I was always one step away. In high school, I was biding my time until I could become the college version of myself, the one my mind could see so clearly. In college, the post-college “adult” person was always looming in front of me, smarter, stronger, more organized. Then the married person, then the person I’d become when we have kids. For twenty years, literally, I have waited to become the thin version of myself, because that’s when life will really begin.
And through all that waiting, here I am. My life is passing, day by day, and I am waiting for it to start. I am waiting for that time, that person, that event when my life will finally begin.
I love movies about “The Big Moment” – the game or the performance or the wedding day or the record deal, the stories that split time with that key event, and everything is reframed, before it and after it, because it has changed everything. I have always wanted this movie-worthy event, something that will change everything and grab me out of this waiting game into the whirlwind in front of me. I cry and cry at these movies, because I am still waiting for my own big moment. I had visions of life as an adventure, a thing to be celebrated and experienced, but all I was doing was going to work and coming home, and that wasn’t what it looked like in the movies.
John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” For me, life is what was happening while I was busy waiting for my big moment. I was ready for it and believed that the rest of my life would fade into the background, and that my big moment would carry me through life like a lifeboat.
The Big Moment, unfortunately, is an urban myth. Some people have them, in a sense, when they win the Heisman or become the next American Idol. But even that football player or that singer is living a life made up of more than that one moment. Life is a collection of a million, billion moments, tiny little moments and choices, like a handful of luminous, glowing pearl. It takes so much time, and so much work, and those beads and moments are so small, and so much less fabulous and dramatic than the movies.
But this is what I’m finding, in glimpses and flashes: this is it. This is it, in the best possible way. That thing I’m waiting for, that adventure, that movie-score-worthy experience unfolding gracefully. This is it. Normal, daily life ticking by on our streets and sidewalks, in our houses and apartments, in our beds and at our dinner tables, in our dreams and prayers and fights and secrets – this pedestrian life is the most precious thing any of use will ever experience.
My little brother moved to California a few weeks ago (Yes. THAT California. ALL the way across the country. Is someone cutting onions? My eyes are watering…) and though it’s strange not to have him right down the road in Athens, I am inexpressibly proud of him for doing something so brave. I could never have done what he did, and I want him (and you) to know that you’ll survive these cross-country moves and hard times o’ growing up. You will.
Those of you who have been following this blog for any amount of time (or, like, have ever met me in real life) know that this growing-up things has been the ultimate struggle of my first few post-grad years. There were many nights of lying on the floor, eating entire bags of chips and wallowing. There were breakdowns in the grocery store, the laundromat, and the car. There were so many unknowns, so many fears, so much loneliness and too many Netflix + Soup In Bed nights to count. It was hard a lot of the time and I felt so lame… but. I got through it.
And I think that’s the ultimate lesson here. No one really tells you how hard Becoming An Adult is. Or, they do, and you’re too busy living your awesome collegiate years to hear those old, wise folks trying to speak to you. But somehow, just KNOWING that it’s going to be hard makes it easier to deal with. Like getting a shot at the doctor’s office and the nurse warns you it “might pinch a little bit.” Sure, it hurts like hell and you’re not sure where she got her idea of “pinching a little bit” unless she spent time wrangling lobsters before nursing school and therefor has a completely different frame of reference for pain… but you’re thankful you at least knew it wasn’t going to be all sunshine and butterflies. You slap a bandaid on and go about your day, thankful that now you won’t get the flu and have to hug the toilet for a few days like the rest of your friends.
But I digress.
Let the record stand that I am telling you IT WILL BE DIFFICULT. But it won’t last forever. Soon, you’ll figure out how to make it through the workday without craving a nap. You’ll make friends, you’ll enjoy having money to spend on trips to visit your old friends, and being in bed at a reasonable time not only sounds appealing but it will be a habit. You’ll get to do so many cool things with your homework-free hours. You. Can. Do. It. And it’s actually pretty nice. It just takes a few bags of Tostitos and a Netflix account.
If you’re like me and just want to know that you are normal and everyone feels this way… check out some of my choice moments of these funfun years of Growing Up and Figuring It All Out.
Original Quote source: Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines