My sophomore year of college, I was going through a hard time. Mostly, I was giving myself a hard time, which is pretty typical. But there was other stuff going on, so it wasn’t entirely my fault.
Looking back, it was the first time I dealt with semi-adult problems. If you can remember when your problems shifted from being straight-up high school to things actual people actually dealt with, you might be able to recall how daunting that time can be.
I had the same roommate all four years of college, and a lot of nights we would have long chats in the dark about our lives, our families, our classes, what we believed in, what we worried about, whatever. One of those late nights, I told my roommate that I was fed up with all the uncertainty and worry. I wanted to know how things were going to turn out and whether or not I ended up okay. I mean, of course things were going to be fine, but I wanted to get past the moment when they didn’t feel out of whack anymore. I wanted certainty. And reassurance.
Despite my healthy skepticism and my non-existent history of having visions, more than anything, I wished that the version of me who lived five years in the future would just pop by for a second and let me know that it all worked out. That I was happy, that I was loved, and that — most importantly — I made it through everything, maybe with a little of my dignity intact. No details, just a thumbs-up.
My roommate argued that she didn’t want to know anything about the future. For her, meeting her future self was something that wasn’t necessary, regardless of the stress she might be under at the time. I came back with the fact that 1.) all I wanted to know was that things would be okay and 2.) I hate surprises and #1 would make me feel much, much better and would make me shut up about it.
She kind of had to give me that one.
And, when I got to be about 24/25-ish, I sort of wished that I could go back and tell 19 year-old me that it had all worked out. Because I felt like that kid definitely needed someone — especially me — to show up and tell her to chill out. Because I worried about a lot of shit that I simply had to live through in order for things to work out. And on a number of levels, I knew that.
But I think the in-between spaces are the hardest because everything just seems to hang in the air. Because it’s so much easier to look back and say, “yeah, that wasn’t so bad,” than to charge forward semi-blindly and always be able to say, “yeah, this isn’t so bad.”
While meeting the 34/35-ish version of me is moderately terrifying to the me that is just barely reconciled to turning 30 in seven months, I can’t say that I wouldn’t mind if she dropped by to let me know that things turned out all right. And maybe she’d say they turned out better than I could have imagined, since I’m not quite sure what to picture when I think about my future right now. While 19 year-olds have a lot ahead of them that’s really uncertain, I’d argue that 29 year-olds have a few more balls in the air.
And, since it would be me after all, and I’m a tiny bit chatty, I’d really hope she’d mention that everyone I know who’s betwixt and between these days ended up okay, too. Because that’s all I really want: for all of us to get through the weird, be happy, and be loved.
And now you can throw shit at me for being such a tremendous sap.