Words, wrods, wdrso
I have a dislike for beginnings.
The existence of one implies that there will be an ending, a notion that I still find difficult to come to terms with at times. The transience of human life and all that it encompasses — relationships, jobs, wealth, those wonderful moments that you wish could last forever — all of these things seem at least a little bit meaningless against the backdrop of perpetual time. In the grander scheme of things, even the best of human efforts appears to be a little pointless, bound by an aspect of humanity we never have been able to fully detach ourselves from — our mortality.
But I find ways to cope with this fact, as many of us do. The terror management theory in social psychology posits that much of human behaviour is driven by the fear of death. In order to reconcile with our existential angst, we turn to religion and legacy: some believe in an afterlife; others pursue more indirect methods of transcension, such as bearing children, seeking recognition, or making a lasting impact on the world. (That is not to say, of course, that death anxiety is the only driver of these pursuits.)
I create things. Today, I write. It’s almost absurd, in a way, that I’m doing this, posting my thoughts for the world to read in the hopes that they will leave an impression or impart some sort of wisdom to someone, somewhere. For one, I am barely an “adult”. There are many ways my life could be described: sheltered, privileged, guided, isolated. Does anything about it bestow me with the qualifications to write about ambitious themes like living and dying? To that, I can only respond like so:
I am a human being.
I am a human being; throughout my life, I’ve taken on a number of identities, but this is my truest one. For a long time, I was the obedient child. The good student who never spoke out of line. The shy, sensitive girl. With all of these expectations and notions of what is normal and acceptable, I felt impossibly restrained, weighed down by an invisible anchor. My eyes were not mine — they only saw what was “worth” seeing. My hands were not mine — they only did what was “worth” doing. And my voice was not mine — it was a voice that could never say “no”. Slowly, I began to suffocate. However, this spring, as my first year of university came to a close, I had a single, simple realization:
I still have the words.
Perhaps it was the emotional stress I was enduring at the time, perhaps it was the unease I was feeling about my future, or perhaps it was a little bit of both, but in the midst of distress, I found my clarity. As much as I feel that I am being controlled or led down a slim path by societal standards, I haven’t lost my authentic self. As much as I feel that many of my opinions tend towards ambivalence, there are other topics I am deeply passionate about. And as difficult or awkward as I find communicating with others may be, I still have the words to do so. The sentences and paragraphs that flow from my mind when I put pen to paper could be a force to be reckoned with, if I only gave them the strength.
I’m lucky that I am able to speak and to write. It’s a freedom that I have perhaps squandered in the past. And so, I think to myself, why not write now? I have things to say, and emotions bubbling at my throat, and the blood of Homo sapiens running through my veins, so why not now?
As the author, I want to paint this as a narrative of self-discovery and growth, evidence that maybe, I have become more of an adult after all. But I’ve told you from the very beginning that I am uncomfortable with endings; thus, I am leaving it to you to compose your own ending to this tale, if you’d wish. After all, the moment that any piece of writing is released into the world, the origin of it fades in importance — instead, what begins to matter is how it influences others’ beliefs. Perhaps Kay, in this story, dies not long after writing this, casting this piece in an ironic light. Perhaps, more pleasantly, you decide to send her a message to chat after a period of silence, and come away from it with a renewed sense of enthusiasm for the present. Or perhaps, like me, you prefer these stories of ours to be interminable, to live on in the hearts of others, to become our own little legacy that inspires, provokes, and transcends…
…even if we may not live to see it ourselves.