(Note: This post originally appeared on Alyssa's personal blog.)
I considered writing this the day before graduation but knew that I wouldn’t be able to keep it together since I can barely keep it together now (and since I can barely ever actually keep it together) ((and since I plan on not remembering any of these next two weeks…))
So like I usually do when things are too much for me to handle, I decided to think about something else. And my mind began to drift to mirrors. They are the most truthful (and often unforgiving) opinion you are ever going to get, every imperfection and every flaw coming to light. Some days you feel so content with its reflection, and others, you turn on the light and think “what is that staring back at me?” But always, they show you who you are, who you’re not, and everything in between.
Besides a photograph, a mirror is the only thing that allows you to actually watch yourself grow up. The way every part of you changes little by little without you ever noticing, how every day you become more and more different: your eyes, hair, thighs (ugh pizza), every detail about you, how each time you look, you find that you’re not who you once were.
There is absolutely no way I can sum up these past few years, so I won’t even begin to try. And maybe it’s because I’ve never been someone who has ever been able to make a decision, or maybe it’s because I spend more time running from things that aren’t after me in the first place than I could ever explain. But milestones like this do…not…sit…well…with…me. I was a mess over my first sleepover, my first driving experience (and every other driving experience after that), my high school graduation. But in some rare attempt at bravery, I put on my cap and gown and looked into the mirror.
And then, I did what I always do.
This has been an ongoing theme that has been consistent over the college years. I cried over boys; I cried over drunk texting those boys. I cried because I (the English major) physically could not write a three page paper (double spaced…). I cried over the things I couldn’t change; I cried over the things that I was too afraid to change. I cried over the stress that came with never knowing what I was doing, who I was, where I was going, where I wanted to go, what I really wanted, what I never really wanted. My poor mother, who has had to listen to me wail now more than I did when I was an infant, had to deal with me yet again the other night when I told her between fragmented breaths: “I…can’t…do…this.”
The future is stretched out before us, and it’s open and it’s limitless and it’s terrifying. And thinking that now, the friends who are a few steps away will be separated by town lines, states, and even oceans, makes me ugly-cry all over again. But as much as I want to be selfish and keep them to myself, the way one does with caterpillars in a jar, and feels that heartbreak when they turn into butterflies and beat their wings against the glass edges, I know that I have to share them with the world. (Mind you, every caterpillar I ever tried to keep as a pet escaped because that is my life).
How I’ve written on this blog and have yet to mention John Green is beyond me, but he says it perfectly (because it’s John Green): “Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.” While time will do what time always does, the feeling of being free and foolish should stay, and these years will always be there to think of whenever you need them... the infinite mistakes, infinite lessons, infinite laughs, and infinite, infinite, infinite loves, more than I could ever put into words.
So while I’ve thought about hacking into the school’s computer system and changing my birth year, the semi-more sane part of me knows that this is right, that this is the way that it has to be, that things are going to change just like they always have, that this experience has to have a definite ending. And if I could go back, I would tell myself to just let go, to stop being so afraid, to stop doubting yourself so much, that the person looking back at you is going to be just fine if you allow her to be.
But I guess that’s the funny thing about mirrors. Often, they show you the only person who is standing in your way.
[Photo by Juliette Kibodeaux.]