If it was my birthday I’d make a wish
To not be bitter because I’m getting sick of this.
– Happy by Julia Michaels –
It was definitely not me dressing up like a hipster and dancing all night long. Taylor Swift made it sound so damn fun. It blows my mind.
In less than 24 hours, I will be turning 23. It’s the day before my birthday, and I don’t really know. I’m kind of experiencing a lot of anxiety. I’m just sitting here in my room typing this out, but you know. It’s there, like a friend that never leaves you alone when you’ve had enough and want them gone for the day. It’s there.
I’m sorry. I know how awful that must sound, but I’ll try to explain.
I’ve always remembered being afraid and paranoid about any kind of marker or event that openly declares a passage of time. I’ve felt that way since I was very young. Things like birthdays, graduations, one year anniversaries of things … Most recently, this past January, I was having major anxiety on New Year’s Eve, and that really sucked.
I hate myself for feeling that way. I know that it tends to bring down the people around me which is why I usually keep all my thoughts on this in my head and unspoken, but then that expresses itself in other sad ways like irritability, short fuses, or me isolating myself.
Long story short, this is how I’m feeling today. I feel like I’m always going to feel like this, so I don’t really know any solutions for it. Is there a word for feeling this way about time passing? I’m not sure. I’m not saying I’m not into celebrating birthdays. I’m mostly not into celebrating my birthday but also, I’m really grateful to be alive, you know. I worked really hard to come out of this really dark place where once I was on the other side, I realized how special it was to be alive. I’m grateful for that everyday. It’s just that … Time isn’t stopping. Which is wild. In my brain, it feels crazy. In my brain, it’s usually about the fact that time is passing and I’m still … Just me. Just here. The same. Years are passing by and I still just feel stuck always.
So I thought it might help though for me to put down somewhere my reflections on being 22 before I close the door on it with the help of some of the songs and lyrics that really guided me this past year.
Stop This Train by John Mayer
When John Mayer first released “Stop This Train,” I was ten years old. I don’t really remember it being out there. I remember “Waiting on the World to Change” being this super cool phenomenon when I was younger, but I feel like I was too young to have those details in my mind which is why when I heard this song again over the summer of last year, it was like this feeling I was feeling actually made sense.
It came up on shuffle, and it was the first time in a really long time that I had heard the song. I stopped what I was doing, sat down, listened, and cried.
“So scared of getting older,” echoes through my headphones and that really hit me because I really feel like I’m constantly afraid of that. What I love about this song though is that later the words of wisdom come in, and they say .. “Don’t for a minute change the place you’re in,” and honestly that’s such a reassuring thing to hear, and it’s something I need to hear because I always forget. I always forget. I’m always trying to stop the trains I’m on, trying to stop everything that’s going to come way as the year passes, and I need to remember that there is no real way to actually do it. So we all just gotta take things as we go, and make the best of our time. I just constantly need that reminder and I needed it today.
I’m literally watching the second hand spin around the clock between writing these sentences, and thinking about how I’m going to spend my time.
Time is the thing that I can’t take the speed of, and it’s a game I’m destined to lose. I already know that. I just don’t know why I keep feeling like I’m running out of time when it’s honestly inevitable … at least Mayer can sing me through it.
This Love by Taylor Swift
A lot of people my age I knew at the end of last Spring were off taking trips to Italy or France as the graduation gift to themselves, but on the day off I had in between finals and graduation, I just really wanted to see Taylor Swift.
Taylor Swift has been an inspiration of mine since her first album came out. I was in the seventh grade. The first song I ever learned to play on a guitar was “Fifteen.” The way she has navigated the music industry as a woman, a songwriter, and a performer has inspired me in a lot of ways – Catch a post about my favorite Taylor Swift lyrics soon. On my last full day of classes, I remember I had gotten out of my poetry class early. I had some time to kill, and went to sit behind the building just for kicks. Just to be. Just to exist. Just to sit and feel. Feel the feeling of being a student. I had my headphones on. The sun was out and shining in this gorgeous way. “This Love” by Taylor Swift was playing in my ears.
This love is good.
This love is bad.
This love is a life back from the dead.
These hands had to let it go free,
And this love came back to me.
It was just echoing in my head, and I don’t know if I can really explain what this group of words means to me. I felt like I was wrestling with myself for a really long time and dealing with a lot mentally …. If I had to sum up my college experience, it’d be this gigantic personal struggle with a handful of very tiny accomplishments – which I am proud of – but it felt like such a battle. I don’t mean to complain about it, but in my head, it felt really big. Depression, anxiety, loneliness.
There was a good amount of time where I felt like I was out of love, and I had nothing to give to anyone. When she says, “These hands to let it go free,” it was like once you let your anger and your hate and all this weight that’s holding you down – once you let that go, love comes back to you. A lot of life is good, but a lot of it can be bad. When it’s bad, it’s such a struggle for me to remember that good things come back. When you feel so empty and out of love inside of you, it can be really difficult to believe that love still exists or that you’ll ever feel it again. She says, “This love came back to me,” after she was brave enough to let it go in the first place. It’s scary to let things go or leave something good behind you. It also takes a lot of courage to let go of any emotion that can harbor good feelings inside of you. I had to work up a lot of strength to try and let go a lot of hate and anger and resentment and regret that was inside of me, but when you let it go … The love comes back. That’s what this song taught me. This song made me realize that’s what had happened to me in my life, and maybe that’s what had to happen for me in my life in order to get to right here, and I love Taylor Swift for putting that into words for me. I really felt that in this moment. I was finally feeling like I accomplished something great, and that’s something I learned while I was 22.
Taylor Swift sang “Love Story” at the concert, and it made me feel like a kid and I cried. It was my first time seeing her that night. I felt like I grew up to this point along with her and her music. I swear had never felt so free. She did not sing “22,” but I didn’t really care. She sang “Long Live,” instead and that made me cry too. I’m not sure I can ever explain how much seeing her meant to me that night at that time in my life.
Graduation was scheduled for seven in the morning.
The night before I got lost at the Rose Bowl looking for where we parked the car before the concert. It took a good thirty minutes to find it. We drove home. I got three hours of sleep. Woke up, curled my hair, and put on a graduation cap.
I didn’t want to walk. I really hated this attention, like all I did was read some books and I don’t need to be applauded for that, but I did it for my mom. Half of my incredible family flew out from Northern California just to see me walk on a stage for two seconds. The other half of my family called out of work that day just to make sure they could be there. When I went outside to meet them, I was handed flowers and necklaces and balloons and everyone started hugging me, and I was just really overwhelmed with love that I started crying. My family is really great and I was so grateful for them being there. I felt really cared about in that moment.
College was an extremely personal journey for me. I didn’t know a lot of people. The academic work I was doing was very introverted and isolating. Reading novels and writing about them. You don’t work in groups doing that. It’s hours on your bed trying to wrap your brain around fifteen chapters before the morning hits. I felt like nobody really understood what I was doing or why I was spending my time like this. “You’re majoring in English Literature?” “How do you read two novels in day?” I could not even tell you the answer. You sit in a room and read until your brain hurts. I did that for four years, and just like writing, it was a really lonely thing.
I think that’s why I cried that day. It just felt like I was doing this thing on my own. Suddenly your entire family shows up to praise you for it. It was like, I didn’t even realize you realized what I was doing. I was overwhelmed. It was such a good feeling. I’m so grateful for the experience and for my family’s support because I know I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them. I know that I’m really lucky.
By the time late August and September came around, I started feeling really weird. Everyone went back to school, and I didn’t have a job yet. I was kind of torn. I don’t know if post-college depression is actually thing, but what I do know is that people don’t talk about it enough. I mean after sixteen years of being a student, of answering to someone else, of creating content for someone for the purpose of a grade … What do you do when you don’t have to do that anymore? It was something I thought of constantly and made me wonder what I was supposed to actually be doing. Was I really feeling this low and lost and confused? I had no clue, and I still don’t, really. I struggled so much, especially with my writing.
Writing for myself was really hard. I felt like I never really did it before. It was so difficult for me to get started in believing in what I had to say for myself and from my heart. Thinking for myself for once. My writing journey has been crazy jacked up. There was a point where I didn’t write for two years before ever studying literature seriously. After not doing something for two years, it’s a little difficult to get back into. It was really crazy, and in this fall season, I was getting really frustrated and angry with myself. I felt like I wasn’t creative and that I wasn’t meant for doing this. I’ve cried like every night … Gonna be honest with you, I am still working on that.
• • •
I’m always like – We gotta write about love and light and be positive! Dude, everything I just wrote seemed so sad, I’m sorry. Can’t believe you read this far … I’m just being honest about my past year. It was a rollercoaster, but when is it not?
Throughout the course of the day today, I got the overwhelming urge to just delete this entire blog. I know nobody’s reading it, and that’s okay with me. Everything I put out on the internet is mostly journal entries and archives that I’ve made and stored online for myself. I know I don’t need to explain myself to anyone, but there’s a lot of my thoughts I want to share and yet, a lot of my life I still want to keep to myself.
I’ve no idea where I’m going with this, but you know .. Maybe I’ll figure it out later on.
Writing about this really helped me work through that sucky feeling. I’ve come to realize that I’ve truly had an incredible year. Maybe a lot of it felt miserable, but Taylor was right. There were moments that felt really magical. She’s always right, isn’t she? My year wasn’t perfect, and it felt like an uphill climb for a really long time, but it was a better year for me. I’m so grateful that I can say that. I hate to have to say I’m just gonna leave it all behind in photos, poems, and memories. I suppose now it’s all here in case I ever forget.
Can’t stop the train. Guess we all just gotta wait and see what tomorrow holds.
• • •
I just thought of it. If there isn’t a word for that feeling about being afraid and anxious about that passage of time, then there is definitely a song. It’s 30/90 by Jonathan Larson from Tick, Tick … Boom … and I feel it in my bones.
There’s always going to be a song. What can you do?
Stop This Train by John Mayer 2006