Growing Pains

I always wondered whether home is something you create or something you stumble across. I’ve been to places, where I simply didn’t want to open myself up. I had this affirmative feeling that it was not for me. Looking back, it might be my own hang ups. With a clearer mind, I reasoned that had I invested the time to learn more about the place, the people, maybe it wasn’t as terrible as I thought. Maybe.

But I’ve been to places where I had an instant connection. When I step out of the car, the train station, or the door, everything just made sense. Yes, this is for me. Maybe it was completely in my head. But it felt like things just fitted. It verged on the spiritual, atmospheric almost. It’s like I was a piece of the puzzle and I was finally placed into the right spot.

For a long time, I clung to the idea that home is exactly where I am. I wanted to be an appreciative person. And it did help. I saw things with happier eyes. But I’m so much happier on my own. I guess with many things in life, it depends on the person. You’re either a puzzle piece or you’re an amorphous blob that can fit anywhere. While I wish I were the latter, I am coming to terms with myself.

I secured my hoodie by the drawstrings and I biked home from Jack’s. It was my regular bike ride of shame after spending the entire night at Jack-in-the-Box in a frantic attempt to write a piece-of-shit essay. Truthfully I ate more than I wrote. I remember the concentrated misery as I stepped out into that pre-dawn grayness. My stomach was loaded with an ungodly number of tacos, my bones chilled, and my joints ached. I biked wobbly to class, where I fell asleep in lecture. Bless my professor, who taught through my snoring.

College probably wasn’t for me. I learned a lot, but I wasn’t brave enough to reap the rewards. I finished my English degree in three years, but I should have pursued a creative writing emphasis. I was two classes away from a Spanish minor too. I remember feeling burnt out, disillusioned, and thinking my degree wasn’t going to help me in the real world. I considered dropping out too, but the familial shame! Not that they were proud of my English degree anyways. It’s pretty funny now.

Throughout college, I struggled with a fear of failure. I had spikes of inspiration, when I would try really hard, and then it deteriorated into a long stagnant period of why bother. I never finished reading the books I needed to. I never reciprocated the efforts my professors made.  So I coasted. I never failed, but I never succeeded. That’s some tasty food for thought –how one can just straddle this gray area between success and failure in this attempt to never feel the highs and lows of life.

I want to say I caught myself before the slow, painful tumble downhill that could only conclude with a spongebob-esque explosion. But maybe it’s too early to say that.

What am I trying to say? This is all about coming in terms with myself. I couldn’t do that in college, and I think I failed to meet my true potential. I was overly preoccupied with what my parents thought, with what others considered success, and measuring myself to some standard. In the end, I didn’t embrace my talents and interests. But I think this goes beyond self-acceptance. I’m mildly ok with being Alan now. I still want to do some more growing. At the same time, I have to accept that I can only be me. This must be some silver lining shit, I think.

I guess with everything, there’s always a choice of acceptance or a fight to change. But my god, it’s hard to change.  I think I finally understand that Imagine Dragon song: “I get a little bigger, but then I’ll admit I’m just the same as I was.”



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