What will you ever do in your life?
Will you ever get serious?
What a waste!
The words echo inside even though I turn up the music way up in my headphones. “Yeah, sorry for not mapping out every second of my life.” I curse at the voices, at the people who just can’t let me be. But no one can listen to me in this quiet park except the insects. And they don’t seem to care.
All I ask is for you to have some idea of what you want.
Riches don’t come to those without a plan.
“Yeah, well, I never planned on getting rich. I intend to just get by.” I answer them now, feeling bold enough to speak now that I won’t be screamed at for talking back in, what would appear to them, an offensive manner. “Seriously, I don’t mean to disrespect any of you. It’s just I don’t know what I want.”
Numb by Linkin Park blares in my ear and I almost smile at how much it resonates with me. And for someone like me, that’s the sign of being a friend. “You folks get me,” I murmur. “But then again, it’s probably just a song for you.”
As if done subconsciously, I automatically check the watch and curse at the late time it displays. Getting up from the grass where I had been lying down, I pat myself down to try to clean up and then jog back to home.
At home, the mood is so depressing that I nearly turn around at the door. Everything’s quiet. Too quiet. It’s hard to believe that only an hour ago, there had been a dinner party here during which everyone who thought they had the advantage of age – after all, who cares about experience or what the person actually wants? – were advising me. And when their words seemed to fail to get through to me, they had devolved into thinly veiled insults. “As if by hearing their words, they expected me to instantly find the meaning of my life and explain it to them too.”
Why can’t they understand that I am in no hurry to rush my life? Yes, I am laid back but without letting me even try, why do they think of me as incapable of surviving on my own? The spark, the drive, the desire that the ones who plan speak of just isn’t in me. Hell, I don’t even know what I want in the next hour of my life. Just because I have loosened the reins of control on my life doesn’t mean I have let go, right? Well, apparently to these people, I’m wrong.
“Let them think what they want.” I answer my thoughts in a voice too low to hear myself as I quietly open the door to my room. I have been lucky to avoid any confrontation so far in the house and am about to let go a huge breath of relief when I spot mom sitting on my bed, looking at the picture on the walls wistfully. “Mom?” I ask, clearly startled by her presence. Internally, I am glad there is absolutely nothing in my room that I need to hide or cover up.
“I remember…” is all she answers as she brings her gaze to me and I just know it’s time for the mother’s approach tactic. But out of respect, I won’t interrupt her. “… you had some many desire of what to be in the future. Granted, most of them were silly and less likely but there was never one your father and I didn’t support you on. But now, when you are nearing eighteen, all those desires are now gone. I will not scold, I will not judge and I will not tell – except maybe your father if the need arises – so please tell me. What changed?”
I sigh in defeat while also acknowledging that at least this discussion started off well enough. And as I sit down upon the bed next to her, I wrap my arms around her shoulder and lean my head on her so that both of us are staring at the family photo we took on a holiday when I was ten. “I… grew out of them. Most of those options? I now know that I couldn’t have managed them. I don’t have the patience of wasting so many years just to become a doctor and nor do I have a technical mind good enough to become a scholar. Art never pays and besides, I wasn’t much of an artist ever. Not a single one of the classes is interesting. Not drama, not sports and not law motivate me either.”
After a small pause, I continue. “And is it really wrong to want some time, mom? I want to be successful in life, at least enough so that I can feed myself and everyone I’ll ever be responsible for and be able to provide them everything they would need, but does that mean forcing myself on a path I have no interest in? What’s the chances of me picking up something just to choose and later regretting it? What then? Because I may not have a plan yet but that doesn’t mean I want to waste money either.”
“I don’t really understand why you lack the motivation to be something but know that I understand your point of view. Tell me still, if you could choose anything to earn your living with, what would it be?” There’s no mistaking the probing question despite the tired tone she presents. I would have smiled if I wasn’t so tired with the same question being asked over and over again with only change in the words.
I don’t answer though. Not because I don’t want to but as I said to everyone, I don’t really have a clue. And so all I can answer is an “I wish I knew, mom. I wish I knew.” There’s no response and we sit together in silence.
She leaves soon after that but not without a last attempt. “I just want you to know that your father and I will truly support you in whatever you choose, whenever you choose. It’s just that we are aging too and we would like to see you well-established before we become unable to help.” The silence that surrounds me then is nearly deafening.
But that doesn’t mean I suddenly am enlightened. And so, as I strip to prepare for bed, I console myself. “One day at a time, bud. One day at a time.” Even I know that it’s a lie to say that I console myself when everything I say is to them, as if to make them understand when they aren’t even here. Thoughts come about tomorrow as I lay down on the bed after locking the door and switching off the lights and I try to show some assertiveness. But I never was a good enough liar. And so, before sleep pulls me under, there is only one thing I can say about tomorrow.
“When tomorrow comes… I’ll manage somehow.”