What I Might Have Told Her
I graduated one year ago.
I wrote that sentence down one week ago and did nothing.
I graduated one year ago.
I often wonder what would’ve happened if me, at this present time, sat down with me, one year ago, to have a conversation over a margarita. What would I have said? Would she have listened?
It might start off with her assessing her goals, short term, long term, rushing through the inevitable stress of student loans and working some job with grueling hours only to push forward in her career. Her rattling off the various cities she’d like to check out. Her mentioning where she might like to end up.
I might have nodded, I might have offered that there’s no way to prepare for post-grad. I might have expanded by suggesting there’s no preparation for any transition, not at this age, nor at any age, really. I’ve spoken about this with my parents. When you’re there, you are simply there. It will happen to you.
Perhaps I would have alluded to the volumes of paperwork waiting ahead. It’s everywhere. Adulthood means paperwork and no one enjoys promoting this. You’re answering questions you had no idea you even possessed the answers for. And suddenly security questions become much more personal. What’s your ex-boyfriend/girlfriend’s dog’s name? I’ll just unregister for this job hunting site, don’t mind me.
I would have told her that the things she will read will have a far more meaningful impact. The things she will watch will resonate harder. She will be watching films and television through a new set of eyes. She will listen to other artists. She will be hungry to learn and fascinated to create.
I might have ordered a basket of chips and guac and cautioned that decision making will no longer be something she can run away from. Every day we make a thousand decisions, most tiny and fleeting, but now they mean so much more. Each little decision affects the next. Take thoughtful action with every choice.
At this point she’d insist she’s aware of this and why don’t we order more guac.
I would also agree about the guac, and casually argue that there will be many things out of her control and that she must be patient. But she won’t understand this.
I want to tell her that this year will be full of the hardest days of her life, and the best days of her life. I want to tell her that these highs and lows will be of the most extreme she has ever felt.
I want to tell her that she will put off the inevitable breakdown she’s been pushing away for eight months. That she will cry and hear herself say things from the depths of her pain she never wanted to hear herself say aloud. That she will grab her skin like it would snap and tear and shed the distortion that has consumed her. That the frustration from a year in her crumbling health will explode and leave her empty. That she will be angry, bitter, full of regret, and resent the things that have happened that she could not control.
I want to tell her to remember she is smart when people make her feel otherwise. That she is strong when it is easier to feel weak. I want to look her in the eye and say, "You will overcome because you always have and you are not done." I want to tell her to stop apologizing now, because when she has to, she must mean it.
I want to tell her that the best days are even better than she could even imagine. That she will hear her screenplay’s success a half hour before leaving work and hop on a 90 minute train home. Ninety minutes of joyful tears and laughing and commuters thinking she is completely obliterated. That she will continue to stare at her name under the word winner for seconds at a time and trace her finger along the screen. That her best friends will blow up her phone and call her crying and the days of outreach and support will flood her heart. That she will finally inhale the sharpest breath of success that she has chased for 15 years.
I want to tell her the crazy nights are far fewer but equally meaningful. Invited to dance on various stages, hand holding and rummaging through kitchen cabinets for the late night snacks and the last cold beers, gazing at sky scrapers in the night lights, bouncing from brewery to brewery in Maine, that a DJ would play the entirety of Africa by Toto because the crew danced even harder to it than anyone else there, befriending Uber drivers, beach walking with dogs, late night phone calls with loved ones afar, running into her best friend from kindergarten after not seeing one another for seventeen years, and pretending to know much more than she will ever know at a wine tasting; these moments will liberate her. She will feel at ease once more.
I want to tell her she should expect anything. I want to tell her to stop planning. There is no need for it because the plans have been sculpted by the universe and we are merely following along. Yet she has the power to change her life at any time at any place if she feels she needs to. She will make decisions, she will recognize, she will learn. She will get herself on track, even if she cannot see the lines ahead.
I want to tell her that she should keep the fire inside her because one year later she can still be just as roaring and bright. That none of this will make sense nor should it.
But I don’t think I would’ve told her any of this. I don’t think I’d change a thing.
She will learn, as will I.
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