Sunday, October 4, 2009

How old are we, really?

I have officially been kicking and screaming and fighting through life for 23 years.  I don't know if I will be doing it for another 23 years, but I am nonetheless still here, now.  If I do make it to 46 though, who will I have become?  How will I remember these years: so close to a cancer diagnosis, a struggling twenty-something in a terrible economy, living at home, trying to start getting serious about running, so unnecessarily self-conscious?  Will I still be a commitment-phobe, terrified of allowing myself to be vulnerable?  Let it be known and forever out there in the world (read: the Internets) that my biggest fear is that I will grow old as a jobless and achingly alone chubby woman.  The first part of the fear is totally unreasonable, and I know that, but it is still there.  The second part is slightly, if only very slightly, more realistic.  Hopefully this running thing will help combat the very last bit.

It's just that at this exact moment in time, I am so frightened.  None of us can foresee the future; no one knows when or how the economy will recover.  All the doomsayers of the world are predicting terrible things for the earth unless we make drastic changes.  And closer to home, people keep getting cancer diagnoses.  All of the negative "what ifs" are enough to make a person just want to disappear, to give in to nothingness.

It's funny (to me) that after everything I have survived already, I am panicking.  I feel like I'm drowning back here at home.  Dry waterboarding, if you will.  There is a little nagging voice in the back of my head reminding me, if I let it, that this was Never the plan; this stagnation is all Cancer's fault.  When that squeaky voice starts calling out to me, my future seems so bleak.  If I start to let myself give into those thoughts, everything else, all of my walls of strength and purpose, starts to crumble.  Every single day I have to tell myself, almost yell at myself, that this is temporary.  I am only 23; there are many, many years ahead of me, and the vast majority of them will not be spent living with my parents in suburban hell.  I think my difficulty accepting that arises because I feel so much older than I really am.  Perhaps that's a selfish and vain thing to say, but I am already just so tired.

My faith, shaky as it is, is enough for me to want to believe that everything happens for a reason and has a purpose.  I spent more than a few nights over the past three years struggling with the questions like, "why did I get cancer?" and of course, "what am I supposed to do with this?"  Those sorts of queries are important to consider, but they are often unanswerable, especially when the person is still emotionally invested in getting better.  Never before have I had so little direction.  High school was all about succeeding and getting to college.  B.C. (before cancer), college was all about double-majoring and earning money and gaining my total independence.  Cancer was all about beating cancer and getting back to school.  Then school, once more, was all about reconciling who I was with who I thought I should be, and graduating on time.  My goals were short term because I didn't know how to think about the long term.  I could only focus on getting through each day as it came to me.

But now, I can't seem to come up with any long-term goals.  There is too much uncertainty, too many variables.  Currently, I work at Starbucks, which I really do love and am fairly decent at, but I can't stay there forever.  I don't know if I will ever be a professional photographer or if that's even what I want.  Also, cancer again working its sticky tentacles into my life, I would like to do something in the young-adult cancer world, but it is difficult starting over in Chicago, a city with its own and many cancer celebrities.  There is this fun little knot of anxiety pulsing in my chest that had disappeared for a while back when I was in school and focused, but it seems to have returned.  I can almost reach down my throat and pull it out.  I wish I could throw it away along with the two-year old cake from the freezer I tossed earlier today.

AnyWay.  Please excuse my rambling ons.  Ramblings on?  One of them or both.  This is what is on my mind, and this is still my b-log, and everything is connected, somehow, to cancer.  Or maybe it's the weather.  So.  On that note, I hope everyone's weeks are going a bit more smoothly than mine.  Thank you so much if you are still reading here.  I'll be looking to you guys to buy the book when I write it!  haha.  You don't have to read it, necessarily, just leave it artfully placed at an angle on your coffee table.  :)  K, peace.