In a world of doubting and questioning and fielding the “what are you doing after graduation?” questions, I’m beginning to feel small. Swallowed up by the potential I hold, buried underneath the mountain of possibilities that lay before me. I hear a lot of “ooh”s and “ahh”s from others when I clumsily list off careers I feel highly unqualified for, yet keep applying to. And I’m positive we’ve all become better liars by talking on the phone with family or meeting someone new and grimacing through the pain of appearing put-together. I’ve learned how to articulate myself so well that I can painstakingly describe how exactly inarticulate I feel when it comes to my future plans. I’ve been swallowed whole by the magnitude of the decisions before me. If I can reference Finding Nemo for a second, I’m convincingly playing the role of Marlin when he and Dory are swallowed by the whale, and I’m floundering at the task of escaping the mouth that is “the future.”
But I’m feeling wholly excited by it all? Perhaps it’s all a little like the pre-show jitters we get before we put on a play, or sing a song at karaoke, or present in class on a topic we are drastically unprepared to discuss. We know we are putting ourselves on the line and we know that we will experience both the rush and the fear that comes with putting ourselves out there. I’ve found myself countering my conversations lately with the added “but maybe that’s naive of me.” I’m beating myself up over that phrase, and I am tired of letting my optimism off the hook. It’s like I’ve given myself an F on that presentation before I even get up to speak.
“Maybe it’s naive of me to think I will do well.”
“Maybe it’s naive of me to hope for the best.”
Or maybe it’s important to think I will do well. Maybe it’s important to hope for the best. Maybe I need to be a little less Marlin and a whole lot more of Dory in this whale’s-mouth-of-a-world. Perhaps I should start believing there is importance in fear and nerves and worry, because they remind me there is something at stake. There is something to care for. There is a life planned out for me that I will discover with each new step I take, and I may not be able to articulate what the next three steps look like but I can very well articulate the space my feet occupy now. And for now, that space is “awe.”
I find myself in awe that I have made it this far. That I have lived more days than I care to calculate, and I have collected enough bad days to know life’s struggles are real but in the other hand I’ve gathered enough good days to know those struggles birth beauty.
I find myself in awe that I write. That I sit down with the keys at my fingertips and words flow from my brain. I accumulate thoughts and memories and ideas and I release them into the world in a catharsis that enables me to inspire myself as well as others.
I find myself in awe that I have a future. Regardless of those next few steps, I know that my story will play out. And that, my friends, is not naive. I will live. I will feel. I will forever balance the spinning plates of family, friends, career, and aspirations. I will drop plates and see them shatter at my feet but I will see others spin with ease and reach heights I never imagined.
I may be feeling small right now. And perhaps I will continue feeling small for some time as I venture into the near future. But I suppose feeling small is not synonymous with feeling insignificant. What I continue to be in awe about is how nuanced this life is and how connected we all are in this human experience. We are small, yes, but we are vastly significant. I see it in the slightest of things. I feel it in my bones. We are significant and we matter. We may be small, we may be naive, and we may fail to see clearly at times. But we have a grand significance in this world and with that knowledge I’m hoping we can avoid feeling swallowed up. I’m hoping we work diligently. I’m hoping we venture forward with that continued concoction of excitement and fear that pushes us to dare, to dream, to achieve, and to be filled with awe at what we accomplish. And we will accomplish great things. I see it everyday in myself, in you, and in the world around me. And that is not naive of me to say.