Growing up, I wanted to be a paleontologist. I didn’t really know what that meant, but I knew that adults got upset when you didn’t have an answer to the “What do you want to be when you grow up?” question. And I guess dinosaurs were pretty cool. I thought about being a grown-up a lot as a kid. Having a job, falling in love, raising kids and doing general adult stuff all sounded peachy compared to the troubles that six year olds deal with. Adulthood was inconceivably far away and yet real enough that it gave me a path to follow and rules to play by.
I can’t help but feel mislead by all this. When you’re growing up, they never tell you how much time you’ll spend alone. They never warn you that being able to make decisions for yourself is a terrifying proposition. And they certainly never let you know why any of it really matters.
It’s a Tuesday afternoon.
Floating outside of my body, I’m watching from far off in the distance as this version of me I barely recognize implodes at his desk. He stares blankly ahead, his eyes burning holes through his monitor. He hides his hands under his desk so They don’t see them twitching well beyond his control. His mouth is dry. His heart drums out of his chest. His thoughts, untethered from their moorings, rock violently around the inside of his brain. He is trapped. And he is entirely alone.
This happens every so often in the Real World: a minor incident that drives me straight into my least favorite version of me. It could be a passing comment from a coworker or a mistake made on a big project that brings me there. Regardless of the cause, the feeling is the same.
Anxiety comes in all shapes and sizes. It comes through your windows on a Sunday morning as you stir in your bed. It visits you on a night out with friends just when things were getting fun. It loves all the same places you do, but It doesn’t make appointments. It keeps you company at night, makes decisions for you, ruins appetites and relationships, jumps to conclusions with you, spends your money, spills your feelings to strangers, sweats through your clothes, flips compliments into contempt and turns your mind into a prison.
What if I’m not as close to my friends as I think I am? What if I’m just the person they invite to things, but deep down I’m quite dispensable? What if I’m without value? What if the Real World isn’t all that you thought it would be? What if this is as good as it’s going to get? What if you’re stuck living like this forever?
At its worst, these are thoughts that catch me throughout the day. But that’s not to say that this feeling is always bad, in fact sometimes it just is. On Ye, Kanye West calls bipolar disorder his “superpower.” This superpower cannot be separated from the rest of him, as it’s an integral part of who he is. There are good aspects of the superpower as well as weaknesses, but in both cases, these powers are definitely his. They make him who he is, for better or worse. This is how I have decided to look at my own superpower. Not to hate it or fear it, but to embrace it for what it is and take the good with the bad. There’s not always going to be a happy resolution and in those cases, the best thing I can do is smile and keep at it. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up and I still fear having to decide one day. But until then, I will lean on my friends and family and ask for help when it’s needed. Tomorrow is just around the corner.
It’s a Wednesday evening.
The sun is creeping slowly through the blinds as it sets on the city. It had been a relatively calm day with nothing of note taking place, the best kind of day. Nothing for me to screw up. I begin to relax as we near quitting time and I approach the time of the day where I am free to be myself. I exit the building, train home and pack a bowl to ease myself further. I made it through another day here I say to myself. I worry of what tomorrow brings and it ruins my high.