Reporting live from the battleground of the conscience, a war between “Ugh, grow up!” and “Never let your inner child die,” between one’s moral ideals and society’s kiss on the cheek, between freedom and security, practicality and dreams, tradition and progress, and the differences that hold us together and pull us apart at the same time. We can only hope for a resolution to this fight. I’m not sure if one should look away or sit back and enjoy it.


Before it all unfolded, time stood still. Every space between each second seemed to stretch infinitely. A child stood in the middle of it all. She seemed to take in every moment around her, the sights and sounds of the scene as if she were trying to savor it all. She is called out and asked what she wants to be when she grows up. She puts down her book and sighs. She wanted to be free from being asked the same question every day, and so, with a spark in her eyes, she says, “I don’t know yet, but I will find out.” She has hope and a drive that no one can ever take away from her. She was promised a world of exploration that didn’t need a roadmap once she grew up. Taking a deep breath, she grabs her bag and walks out the door. 


Somewhere in the hallways of her personality is a staircase that leads to an unfinished attic that she never shows visitors, a room that carries everything that happened to her, what made her happy, sad, angry, what made her hum, giggle, or sigh, what fervently defined her by every person, thing or place she ever loved, a room that stores beginnings that never got finished, endings that came without much warning, meaningful support from an unexpected source, those brief moments of clarity, life-changing conversations and enough imagination to fuel her whole world, feelings she thought had faded long ago but were still alive, a million moments and mundanities, a sea of emotions old and new, a delusion where she made herself the hero in all three thousand versions of the same story, a hypothetical conversation that she compulsively played out in her head, a dream that she left behind, a trait that she developed trying to fit in, a scar that she was left to deal with all alone, an intention that was left unsaid, an experience that fundamentally changed her, a trigger for feeling abandoned, a silent battle she won, a ritual that unknowingly fixed her life, a course she had to quit to chase her true calling, a course she had to join for academic validation, fleeting motivation, a passing thought, and all that moved outside of awareness.


The room is filled with mirrors—mirrors that always point to her growth or failures, that magnify or minimize the true picture, making her question the sharpness of the mirror. Her attic is a place of reflection, a place she visits more often than she’d like to admit making sure that she is not an unwanted version of someone else. She is outgrowing her teenage hood, and her newfound independence is overshadowed by expectations. Every time she tries to have a moment to herself, someone is there to remind her of something she is supposed to be doing. And her parents struggle to adjust to the fact that their precious little angel is now taller than they are and is talking back. It’s a battle of wills, and everyone is losing.


She slowly pieces together all parts of her emerging adulthood to take a deeper look under the hood of her life ahead, only to realize that a shirt will make her feel better about her life. She is an adult but is not grouped with other adults because she is either too young or too old to understand them. She went from checking her grades to checking her bank account, and pauses every second to take in that adulting has nothing similar to the liberating and cool world she dreamt of as a teen. There is no participation trophy for just showing up anymore. She is paralyzed by the countless betrayals of happiness. Among balancing work and life, taking appointments to meet her friends, folding laundry half the time, learning about her no longer invincible body, and picking up endless adulting cues from all around, she wanted to feel like winning, just a little.


As a child, she wished for the freedom that came with adulthood, and now, as an adult, she yearns for the carefree days of childhood. Going anywhere? Doing anything? Being anyone? Screw all that over the endless drudgery of rent, utilities, insurance premiums, bills, and taxes, with plenty of money left over for fun activities like staring blankly at a wall. Despite everything, she supposes that complaining is awfully convenient for the world. Only action brings change. But she always has this insane array of problems coming at her so damn fast that she doesn’t have time to implement change because have you heard? There’s a new problem. She just pretends to know what she’s doing while secretly hoping she doesn’t screw up too badly.


But then again, she realizes the irony of it all. She was always promised an expressive life but is repeatedly told to shut up. She tends to exploit everything and then worry about it. She learns, unlearns, and relearns before her narrative breaks. Uncertainty is her constant companion. With a renewed sense of hope, she wakes up another Monday, pulls her collared shirt up, and slowly buttons it, unapologetically owning the moment.

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