Prisoner

I am still a prisoner of my own fears.
In high school, teachers struggle to make you understand how important your future is. They want you to believe in yourself, to strive to be better. They don’t accept idleness, laziness, and a lack of drive. They push you, and if they are good at their job, don’t give up. But even they can’t really promise it will all be better once you get out, that you will find yourself, that you’ll be happy. They only tell you the next big step, which is going to college, which for some of us was the first generation of kids going to college in our families. The rest of it, life, no one knows. There is no mental preparation for the rest of the road, after college, when you are still unsure of who you are and what you want. What you wanted in high school is most often not even close to what you want as an adult, trying to actually cover your bills and make rent. Maybe it’s better to dream in high school, because if we all knew the truth, and the uncertainty that comes with growing up, we would all quit not only high school, but life. Maybe that’s why no one talks about the realities of the future, not because they don’t know it, but because it would seem ridiculous to a bunch of teenagers who think growing up is the coolest thing ever attained.
When I was in my senior year, I was very hopeful. I liked my writing, and none of the things I worry about now like love and finding happiness, and finding something to do bothered me. I even wrote an essay about how free I was, how after the years of immigration and the expectations I had set for myself I finally knew who I was.
It’s been five years since high school, and not only am I hopeless, but I am very much still a prisoner of my own fears. By that I mean that I have not yet conquered them, that my voice still shakes and feels wobbly when it comes out of my mouth in public. I have yet to respect everything about myself. I have yet to love myself, with all my flaws.
On the subway ride to work, I look around at people, to try and see if this is where they want to be. If in high school, they imagined themselves as grownups riding the train to work in one of the most crowded, difficult cities in the country. If they imagined that whatever corporate job they had was all they wanted. I wondered if any of them had originally planned to save the planet, be a humanitarian, or simply a father or mother. I wondered how they defined contentment then, and if it changed at all, or if they even think about it as much as I do. I feel detached sometimes, on these wobbly, scary rides to work where I am not sure if the train is even connected to the tracks and wires, or we are just simply hoping we are going to get somewhere safely. I look into the darkness outside the train, at the graffiti covered walls far away, the tunnels that seem to be untouched by humans, and I don’t want to be anything. I don’t want to be attached to anything. I don’t want to be in the present, or in the past, or in the future, I just simply don’t want to be.
It’s hard to define things now because life is so uncertain, I don’t even know how I got here. How I got out of high school, and ended up in New York, and now nothing makes any sense.

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