Five Years Later

Being 23 is nothing like what the movies make it seem like. At least not for me. Movie-23-year-olds are at their dream job, engaged to the love of their life, and have life figured out. I think watching movies like that did not prepare me for what being 23 is actually like.

Being 23 means you’re either still in school or you’re freshly graduated, and you’re so overwhelmed with what the rest of your life will look like that you don’t want to plan it out. You just want to nap. Or have a drink. But it’s only 4 in the afternoon and if you do either of those right now, it’ll ruin any plans you had for the night, so instead you try not to think about it.

I remember at my high school graduation the teachers asked us where we imagined we’d be in five years. Well, it’s been five years and I don’t think I could’ve predicted I’d be where I am. I figured I’d have my degree, I would’ve transferred from my community college to a four-year, then gotten my Bachelor’s in Writing or something of the sort. I didn’t think I would’ve changed my major four times just go to back to where I started. I didn’t think I would’ve switched schools after taking a year off. I definitely didn’t think that I’d still be in school now, barely even a Junior.

I remember when I graduated high school- I remember the feeling I had. I felt so free, I had so much to look forward to, so much ahead of me and it was only just beginning. I imagined that by 23 that feeling would’ve dissipated by now. I still feel like I’m only just beginning and I’m pretty sure it’ll feel like this for a while.

I think I’m at the point where I’m getting an idea of what I want to do with my future. I think the initial excitement of “wait, I can actually do whatever I want with my life???” has died down a bit and I’m thinking more realistically nowadays. There’s still a lot I want to do in my life, and I can’t even imagine where I’ll be in five, ten, fifteen years. I just hope that I’m happy. I just hope I’m going down the path I think is right for me, no matter what job I have, no matter where I live. I just want to be happy. I think that’s what I said when my teachers asked me that at my high school graduation, too. And I think I’m getting there.

Uncertainty

Am I where I should be?

Is this what I want?

Does anyone know what they want?

Or are they just blindly chasing a feeling?

People put on a reassuring smile

and say they’re happy,

they’re doing what they want

and “don’t worry, you will be, too.”

Sure, maybe they’re right

and I know I’m still young

but that doesn’t make this

uncertain feeling in my chest

go away.

.

Days all blend together

and I wonder if they’ll ever stop doing that.

An ever-changing world

I want to grow

I want to bloom

I want to look back on this time

and think of how much I’ve changed

for the better

and be proud of myself

I’ve always been growing

I’ll always be changing

I’ll always be looking back on the past

with a hint of nostalgia

and a wave of pride

because I’m always growing

and I’m always changing

and I used to think I would stop changing 

when I reach a certain age

but I don’t think that’s how it goes.

You learn new things

you find new hobbies

you find new things to talk about 

with strangers and with close friends.

I think it’s beautiful

how the world is always changing around us

and we’re changing, too.

if ever there comes a day

where I stop growing, stop changing

I hope it is my last

because if I can’t change with the world

then I can’t change the world.

.. Lauren Hayden ..

Needs

I’ve been at my worst

I’ve been at my best

I’ve stood face to face with anger

and I’ve given in and I’ve given up

but I’m done stewing.

Now when I come face to face

with anger or despair

I’ll ask if it needs a cup of tea

or maybe more sleep tonight.

I want to believe

that these bad thoughts aren’t real

but they are,

they’re just poorly communicated needs

I just have to ask them what they are.

I’m sorry I disappear from time to time

it’s nothing against you

I’m just bad at remembering to talk.

It’s something that’s been a constant since I was a child

and I’m not sure it’ll ever go away.

I get in these moods

they’re not necessarily depressions

though maybe they once were;

they’re like riding the subway late at night

when you’re the only one on the train

and you don’t feel lonely,

you’re just there

and you’re sort of tired,

but you still have enough energy to make yourself dinner when you get home-

at least something filling, if not a full meal.

It’s not a cry for help

and I’m certainly not lonely

but I want you to know I’m still here

I’m just less

I guess

It was a Tuesday in July

I fell deep in love

while July was in full swing

with humidity and heat waves

and there I was, falling for someone like all the cliches

and it really was all the cliches.

It’s everything you dreamed about

before your standards were lowered

by all your horrendous exes

and you were eventually soured on relationships.

Then you meet someone so perfect

you thought they could only ever exist in books and movies

but they’re real

and they look at you

like you’re the exact same thing to them.

to an old friend: a letter I’ll never send

I remember getting mad at you for things you couldn’t control. I was so naive back then and so were you. I remember when you told me you couldn’t be there for me and I took it personal. I realized later that it wasn’t personal, but the way you treated me made it feel like it was. I was an afterthought in your day, and you could never care for me the way I needed. The way anyone needed. I was an inconvenience to you, and you taught me to keep my feelings to myself. Yet another thing I’m unlearning.

You were never an inconvenience to me, and that’s what made me bitter for a while. I cared for you, I cared for our friends. I was bad at showing it, sure, but you couldn’t deny the love was there. Or maybe you could, you always had this picture of me in your head. But it wasn’t me, it was someone else. Someone that looked like me but acted on their rage. Like I was out to get you. And maybe that wasn’t my fault, maybe that was your own inner demons telling you I was bad for you. Either way, we parted ways and I know it was for the best, but I can’t deny I miss it.

I don’t miss much, but I miss it. I don’t miss the arguments, I don’t miss the gaslighting, I don’t miss pushing the blame. But I miss the jokes, I miss the closeness. I’ve been alone so long; I can’t remember what it feels like to know someone else cares. I imagine it feels warm. I imagine it feels like a blanket that just came out of the dryer. I imagine it feels like the sun against my skin in the summer, and the wind against my face as I’m driving.

This isn’t a love letter; I don’t want you back. I don’t want any of our old friends back. I just want you to know I’m not angry anymore.

I want to be brave for you

I want to smile when it rains

I want to answer when you call.

I don’t want to live in fear,

it’ll be the death of me

but where do we go from here?

I’m trying,

but I’m tired of trying

and getting no results.

I want to be brave

like I was when I was ten.

I want to feel the wind against my skin

and not cower away.

I want to feel

again

I’m done with this complacency,

this everlasting loneliness.

it’s like they turned the lights out

and I can’t find the switch.

I want to be brave

for myself

so I can say I beat the demons in my head

I don’t want to be brave

for anyone else

because if I’m doing this for you

and you leave

what’s left to fight for?

I want to be strong

for myself

so I can look back

and smile when it rains.