Jack Kerouac's words seem like a fitting way to begin a journey (er, rather the journey to the journey.)
I have a terribly difficult time making choices. What to order from a menu, how to spend a day off, what to watch on Netflix. I spend more time in the disastrous limbo that is the act of deciding than I do enjoying the choices I have made. Oftentimes this means that the most efficient means of moving forward is to have staples, to be a regular, to choose the same or the safest option before me.
When I was 16, it was throwing myself into school because I was insecure about who I was and who I wanted to become. When I was 18, it was choosing to attend an Ivy League college, because it would make my parents proud. When I graduated it was to take the first job I was offered , because the prospect of unemployment was cause for panic. And while this job led to some pretty sweet experiences, I still feel more restless than I've ever been.
I hadn't always been this way. Growing up, I hadn't always been confident, but I was adventurous despite my flaws. I was goofy. I was free. I believed in myself and I trusted that I was enough, as I put one foot in front of another, trudging into the unknown.
My mother describes my recklessness as a child with great anxiety particularly when she recalls how, as an 8 year old, I almost rode my bike into a South Carolina alligator pit. A family favorite tale of caution, it is a story I will never be allowed to forget. But while my mom remembers the terror she experienced when my Dad returned to her umbrella on the beach unable to find me and my uncle frantically running in every direction asking if anyone had seen an unchaperoned young black girl--I distinctly remember the feeling of the breeze brushing up sand into my mouth as I grinned from ear to ear. And how my curly braids danced as I rode my bike past one resort after another. I remember feeling scared that I could no longer see my father behind me, but also the delight of riding just a little bit further on my own...with a heart so full it could burst. How that feeling could override fear.
Somewhere along the line though, as becomes us all--I changed, I grew, I learned. And I lost sight of that carefree black girl riding her bike on the beach. What's left is the absence of that feeling, the hole created by something that once was. What's left is a young woman who spends way too much time weighing the consequences of her choices, but has never really made any decisions.
With the world before me, I am running from one falling star to another. Every prospect seems wonderful. That is, until new prospects shift the anxious desires of a fickle heart. I've changed my mind so many times that I can't help but feel tired. "I had nothing to offer anybody but my own confusion," Kerouac wrote. While I read Kerouac's language as describing a sentimental unknown, mine is one that is consistently frantic and exhausting.
I'm hoping that if I can offer myself to the world fully some time soon, maybe I can transform my own misgivings into a romantic uncertainty and maybe I can actually manage to hang on to one of these stars...