This Time Tomorrow

"I don't where I'm going, I don't want to see / I feel the world below me looking up at me." 
"This Time Tomorrow" by The Kinks

           I really love English. Writing and reading has come to be my choice form of expression. Last night while rereading for the fifth or sixth time The Great Gatsby for my U.S. Lit class, I had to stop reading to cry for a solid 10 minutes because I was so moved by the language and story. I've always been way too into literature, especially 19th century gothic romances (if you know me you'll know I am quite convinced I am a lost Brontë sister); too easily touched and influenced by some words on a page. 
          It seems I take after my mother, who experienced the same thing in her youth. She became an English major in college. When I came to understand what this meant, I was beyond excited. "Now that's what I want to do with my life," I exclaimed, seeing my whole future laid out in its sparkling literary glory. "What? Teach?" my mother questioned. 
          My young self was taken aback. "What? No. I want to just.. study books."
          "That's not really how it works," my mother explained. "If you get an English major, you really can only become a teacher. It's not worth it. You won't be able to get by. Penny: don't major in English."
          Unknowing at the time, I took my mother's advice. She later confided in me that there's more that can be done with an English education, especially if you have the drive and the determination to do it, which she told me she lacked and therefore struggled to make a career out of loving literature.
          While I do not doubt current/hopeful English majors, my mother's warnings scarred me for life. Even now I am afraid to pursue the one true passion I've found because I have been conditioned to expect failure. I have been told to become a doctor or a lawyer. Those are safe jobs. Family tells me I won't have to worry about money, and I can always count on a stable career. 
           Writing this, I can't help but scold myself. Fuck what my family's told me. Haven't I always been told by successful people to do what I love, to work hard, to put myself out there, to take risks? Why do I find myself so heavily swayed by what my relatives speculate and not by the advice of those who have achieved their goals?
            And now I'm stuck and confused and filled with self doubt. Do I pursue what I love and take that risk? Or do I go the safe route? I know the logical answer is to put myself out there and follow my passion. But that's scary. And I have to think realistically once I'm out in the world (at least that's what adults tell me). I get so frustrated at myself because I want to do what I love; I'm just so goddamn scared. 
           Then the self doubt: am I not worthy of doing what I love if I'm not willing to take risks for it? Do I deserve to get what I want in life if I can't build up the courage to go get it?
            I'm not saying there's one answer to solving my future. I'm young and there's still plenty of time to work towards bravery and try new things. I'm just saying right now I don't know where I'm going, and sometimes I worry I'll never know. But maybe that's life. I'm reminded that a lot of people must feel the way I do. I don't know if we ever really know where we'll be. My grandpa used to remind me, "Your bullshit is just as good as everyone else's bullshit," or, essentially, everyone's just struggling to figure out what the hell's going on. And I think that's something we need to embrace, especially teenagers. We're forced to think about our futures so often: to figure out where we'll go to college, what we want to do with ourselves, even though our amount of time on earth so far has been the most minuscule blip. 
          I think The Kinks have the right idea when they sing, "Leave the sun behind me, and watch the clouds as they sadly pass me by / And I'm in perpetual motion and the world below doesn't matter much to me." My fellow teenagers: we are so young. Don't know where you're going? Me neither. But right now I don't think it should matter much. Right now, explore everything, spread compassion, stand up for yourself, and embrace not knowing what the hell is going on. Live in "perpetual motion". God knows where you'll land, but I know it won't be a boring ride.

text + visual: penny mack
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