I’m at a stage in my life where the most helpful thing for me to do is look to the future. With college applications due in just over a month, all my thoughts have been preoccupied with who I will be and what I will do, as if I’m supposed to have a clue. This stress seeps into my writing, as since the summer, I have found myself introspecting far deeper into my future, writing about the more gruesome and lonelier meanings of what it means to grow up, and eventually, to grow old. But it’s always good to think ahead, I’m told, so I try.
I’ve been a senior for just about two months now.
What I’ve learned so far are two things:
- It’s much harder than you’d expect, and
- It’s not that bad.
What senior year is, is that insatiable hunger to be the best. I need to be the best for colleges so they’re all crawling to me on their knees, begging me with full scholarships in their fists for me to accept their pleading offers. I need to be the best writer, with a published flash fiction collection under my belt, because after all, what would these past three years in Creative Writing have been for? I need to dedicate every moment of waking time to work, to write, to work on writing, and writing about future work, and only take a pause to breathe when I sleep.
Obviously, this is unrealistic. I am sitting in my pajamas, avoiding eye-contact with my college to-do list and my writing revisions I have yet to make. I am drinking tea that tastes bitter because I left the bag in too long, my library books are long overdue, and I have yet to write back to my pen pal (Sorry, Esperanza).
Most days I find myself looking in the mirror and seeing a possum staring back at me, wearing my jeans and my sweater, taking too long to tie my boots. This isn’t me, this can’t be me! I want to think, but the possum looks back at me with a sad expression and confirms my fears. When will you come to accept me? It asks, tears whimpering at the corners of its tired eyes.
I am possum, I have always been possum, and that’s fine. I’ve spent far too long expecting myself to be perfect, and getting frustrated when I am not. Possums are smart, mostly immune to rabies, and sometimes, in the right light, have a sort of glow coming off them from the bottom of the garbage bin.
I’m trying to get to know the possum in the mirror, and it turns out, she’s not that bad, after all.
Emily Kozhina, Class of 2020