When You’re Young and Your Best Days are Behind You

Some days, I become hyper-aware of everything that’s behind me, all of the opportunities that I’ve already missed out on.

People keep telling me that I have so many things to look forward to, and maybe that’s true, but there’s something about my depression, or maybe just some quirk of my wiring, that leaves me hyper-focused on all of the things that I will never be.

I will never be exceptional. I will never be a prodigy. I’ll never be an eighteen year-old New York Times bestselling author. I will never be somebody’s high school sweetheart. I will never be somebody’s first love. Odds are, nobody will ever fall in love with me at all. I will never be skinny or attractive or have abdominals that will make people swoon. I will never be neurotypical.

These are facts. As certain as gravity and the speed of light and the length of a meter. These are unalterable truths of the universe.

But then I start thinking about the things that are only likely: I will never escape poverty. I will never finish my college degree. I will never have a published book. I will never be content with my life. I will never have kids or family or a close circle of friends like on Grey’s Anatomy. I will never like myself for more than a fleeting second.

Somewhere along the way, all of these became the truth, too.

I wish I knew the cure for this. Because right now, I’m honestly starting to feel that death and reincarnation are my best chances for having a life that I can be satisfied with.

There’s still a part of me, detached enough from my circumstances, that realizes that it’s not normal to feel this way. I’m 26. I should feel young and happy and hopeful for the future.

But all I can see is the past, and all of the things that never will be.

Zach J. Payne is a poet, novelist, and thespian; a lover of languages and purveyor of useless knowledge. He is an assistant at Ninja Writers and interns for Pam Howell at D4EO Literary Agency. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram at ZachJPayne. If you enjoyed this article, please click the little green heart.