When They Can | Teen Ink

When They Can

January 17, 2008
By Anonymous

When They Can

“If you wait until the last minute, that’s all you’ve got.”
-Geoffrey Young

It’s easy for me to pick up a pen, but I’m never sure where to begin. I falter with lack of inspiration or direction and from loss of faith in myself. But really, who doesn’t?
As simple as it sounds, it is a difficult question to answer.

There are many difficult questions to answer. I once asked myself, “Why write an essay?” The answer was, “for survival.” Academic grades were never involved, only personal welfare.
I wish that it were still that way, but I’ve learned to enough about the universe to keep from becoming more selfish than usual. Resentful, yes, but not selfish.
Good things come to those who are there to catch them as they fall. When they can.

I choose not to wait because it’s all by chance. Writing is easy when no one else has to read it. It’s the same with feelings. When you smile for the world, you may give others the wrong impression. Maybe you’re happy but maybe you’re not.
It’s all the same – every day, every where, every time. All the days are gray and your life may never go where you expected. But there’s no shame in it. In any of it.
When you get scared and begin to run, all you’re doing is trying to get by.

When you try to get by, you must keep yourself afloat. You worry about others to distract yourself from self-deprecation. You can write for yourself or you can write for the world; in this, you have a choice, but nobody has to know about it. You care what the people think but only enough to affect the stillness of your day. Should you free yourself from the confines of your comfortable bed at sunrise? Is today so sub par that you will allow yourself to sleep in? Should you refuse to get up at all? You wish that you could tell stories for a living. Who doesn’t? Really – why else do people lie?
Bland fiction is much easier to embrace than any kind of truth.

The truth hurts. There’s no doubt about it. It cuts you deep and makes you feel raw inside and sore all over. It makes your head hurt and reverberate with consequences. You stay out and take a chance at life even when all you want to do is to try your hand at sorrow. You taught yourself to get over tragedy and to keep going. You survive because you’ve never had much of a loss to recover from.

A serious loss can set you back, but it can also propel you forward. You could make money off of your life history – you just never know. You could put yourself on a rocket to Mars if you felt the need to do so. Nobody would jump at the fact that you’d be losing your life. Nobody wants to deal with your faults; or their own, for that matter.

Your faults make you complex, and your complexities challenge you to write. You write all the time; sometimes all morning, sometimes into the depths of night. When light creeps through your blinds, you’ve got ink marks on your arms and a stash of papers crunched and scattered upside your head. Life is frightening, but nothing can make you brave; you must learn courage though failure. Trust yourself, and if you’re lucky, you’ll find the answer.

The answer is that there are many answers, and that different answers are right for different people. You should have known that it wouldn’t be easy. If you seek the truth, you will find pain along with your wisdom. But don’t let it stop you; it’s not a lost cause. Don’t ever let it make you afraid.

Fear will get you nowhere. Not here, not there, not through the icy patch on your driveway at 7:15am and you’re late for work again, for the seventh time this week. Be yourself and be your best self if you can. You may not know where you’re going, but you know exactly where you don’t want to end up. Get up when you trip, use a band-aid to
cover your scraped knee, and know that you will stagger. If you’re all bends and breaks, no one will ever be able to find your center. But that’s okay, because maybe they won’t need to know your thoughts in order to look inside your heart.
Your only hope is for recovery, when you’re falling sideways.
Or forwards. Or backwards. Or left or right.
In any case, you’ll know where you’re going.
And when you get there, however far it might be, you’ll know that everything in your life has happened for a reason.
No matter what you believe.
Nothing can stop you from finding yourself.

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