Lelaina Pierce: I was really going to be somebody by the time I was 23.
Troy Dyer: Honey, all you have to be by the time you’re 23 is yourself.
In the words of a very distinct meme, it’s gonna be May. Finals are upon us. Graduation is imminent. And, I keep replaying my last semester of high school unconsciously. I remember how done I was with Calculus, the hassle of picking out a dress for the ceremony and how disappointed I was that I hadn’t accepted Syracuse University’s offer. It’s been four years of regret, in which I’ve had to make up for my lack of judgement as a 17-year-old working twice as hard on internships, study abroad semesters and part-time jobs. At 21, I am not who I thought I would be, yet I am different and that’s okay.
The irony behind making monumental decisions at 17 never gets old. I’m sure no one knows what the fuck they are doing, yet school counselors harass you with admission tests and applications that force you to make a decision immediately. I always thought I was above all that because at 14 I decided I wanted to be a fashion journalist. But, oh boy, how wrong I was!
The last few months have been a constant battle between what I want to do and what I should do. As someone who thrives on planning ahead, I have had difficulty accepting that nothing we plan ever comes out the way we want it to. At 17, I thought that by the time I graduated college I would have secured a job at a top fashion magazine, had a bunch of worthy internships under my belt and a killer contact list in New York. At 21, I am a soon-to-be college graduate that lived in Spain for half of 2015, interned at Eddie Borgo and has been admitted at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. Not bad, right?
Still, the anxiety of the future scares me. It scares all of us because we feel at the edge of a cliff with all eyes on us, waiting for the ultimate fall, yet we don’t want to succumb to failure. Expectations are wicked, so we let ourselves be ruled by them in order to avoid criticism and disappointment.
But, uncertainty is a fucking curse. I have a friend whose family has decided to be as nasty as they could towards her choice of not going to Law School. Another friend switched jobs only to come back two weeks later. And, another realized she wasn’t graduating this May as she thought she would. Be it at 21 or 30, shit happens.
Diane von Fürstenberg constantly talks about how she never knew what she wanted to do, but always knew the type of woman she wanted to be. Having a plan is not obligatory, and at 21 all we have to be is ourselves. Making a living is essential, yes. But, so is creating work you believe in, and that takes time, effort and passion, that no plan is ever going to guarantee. Fuck expectations and fuck being ‘somebody’. We are here, we are growing, and that’s all that matters.