The other day I was discussing tattoos with a knowledgeable friend of mine. I asked him some typical questions:
Does it hurt?
Do you regret getting any?
Where is the best place to get one?
I badgered him until I eventually asked him if it would be hard to get a job if I had a visible tattoo. He replied that it depended on the job, which led me to think about what kind of career path I should travel down. That’s when I realized I had no idea. I had absolutely no clue what I wanted to do in college and later in life.
I am interested in certain things, and I have hobbies, but I don’t find myself especially interested in anything I could make a career out of.
And I have to admit, it’s a little scary. I have no idea how my future is going to end up.
I have an older friend back home, more of a family friend. His name is Harris, he’s worked the same accounting job for 25 years, and spends his weekends watching movies and drinking beer in his living room. It makes me depressed thinking about it. That’s exactly how I don’t want to end up, stuck in some dead end job with just enough money to support myself, not going anywhere. Because that’s the real fear of growing up, losing momentum.
Right now, while we’re young, all the doors are open. We can go wherever we want and do whatever we want, but the fear is that our freedom is fleeting. The fear is that as we get older, we slow down, until finally you’ve gone through your last door to find yourself in a white room with four blank walls and no windows. When you feel the only exciting thing is reminiscing about the days when the world was in your hand. When you’re too old to chase the sun. That’s what I am afraid of.
Thinking about it is enough to drive me crazy. I know worrying is useless, but college is rapidly approaching, and I can’t help but feel unprepared. Some kids I know practically have their whole life planned out, but personally, I think that’s the worst thing you can do. My idea is to embrace the unknown. Accept that I have no idea what’s going to happen and go with it. After all, life is unpredictable.
In fact, just the other night I was re-reading some old journal entries from my junior year. All my friends were stoners, and they didn’t even like me. I had been trying to get over a girl for months on end, unsuccessfully. My whole mentality was to put my head down and make it to college. I even wrote “People will tell you they love you, they don’t. People will say you’re going places, you’re not. You live and you die, and everything in between is meaningless”. I was in dark place, I had no idea that in year I would be living in Arizona, days from graduation, already established as a writer.
A year ago I didn’t think my thoughts mattered, I didn’t think I mattered, but regardless, here I am. That’s growth. In the end, I have no idea what the future holds, and neither does anyone else. So why bother stressing out about it? All I can do, all anyone can do, is work with what we have and hope for the best.
Justin Case is an eighteen-year old senior at Oak Creek Ranch School in Sedona, Arizona. He will attend Northern Arizona University in the fall. Currently, he’s conquering his fears one at a time, serenading bystanders with a ukulele. This is his first writing appearance.