I really don’t like it when people say that they’re jealous of me going cool places or they admire my initiative. Why? It makes me feel guilty.
If one tells me that they are jealous of me, then I promptly feel bad that they, unlike me, are not able to have this experience. However, in some cases, they are capable, but lack the motivation.
Getting myself a job in a national park took an application about five minutes long. Getting a scholarship to Dubai might have been a lot of work as they took my resume, an essay, and a letter of rec; however, that was work anyone could do–I knew about two words of Arabic before I came. I was nothing special. Going to Morocco next semester (which will cost nearly as much as my three years in Maryland combined) is a lot of middle class privilege–thanks to my parents, I’ve been able to work to save up a lot of money, and even though I’ve worked hard at jobs throughout high school and college, I’m pretty darn lucky to be able to put that money straight to savings instead of to feeding myself. I’m pretty darn lucky that I lived in San Francisco and was able to have cool extracurricular opportunities and to attend one of the best high schools in the country that led to my having a massive scholarship to my home institution.
No one is trying to make me feel guilty. These people are genuine friends who are excited for me. I don’t hold it against them or treat them any differently. So why does it still bother me?
When I suggest to these people who consider themselves envious that they, too, could apply for a job in a national park or spend a semester abroad, there are a myriad of excuses–“I don’t have the time,” “I couldn’t leave home for a summer,” “I would miss this city too much,” “”I want to see my friends over summer,” “I couldn’t handle the language barrier,” “I wouldn’t want to work cleaning dishes”–that boil down to comfort zones. There are some very valid ones, too, namely financial situations and engineering programs. But I’ve been thinking about comfort zones recently.
There’s that old Pink Floyd song, “Time,” that was a huge influence on me when I was writing a story a while back. There’s a line that summarizes a few of my fears of life: “And then one day you find ten years have got behind you–no one told you when to run; you missed the starting gun.”
If not now, when? Some other time? That doesn’t cut it for me.
My comfort zone is in not being in a typical comfort zone. My comfort zone is in continuously moving and not allowing myself to get attached. It’s a way of putting up walls for me. If I get too invested, I might be forced to leave. I feel stressed when I’ve completed my to-do list. I constantly fear living with regrets. I’ve been raised in a monochromatic environment–from middle school, I was engrained with the “get good grades to get into a good high school; high school is the golden years, but get good grades to get into a good college; make the most of the carefree college years, but get good grades to get a good job; get a good job to make enough money; make enough money and maybe one day you’ll be happy” mentality. I’d lived in three countries by the time I was twelve. For me, there is no comfort in consistency.
My life sometimes feels like a huge fear of missing out. I often push myself to go out and ‘have fun’ when in reality I’d be much happier curled up in bed with a book.
So don’t admire me. I’m just as caught in the throes of my personality as those of my friends who never contemplated leaving suburbia. I admire those who are happy with what they have and content to just be able to live, and I hope one day I’ll achieve that amount of relaxation.
“Few places in the world are more dangerous than home. Fear not, therefore, to try the mountain passes. They will kill care, save you from deadly apathy, and call forth every faculty into vigorous, enthusiastic action.” – John Muir