Friday, March 28, 2014

Future Impending

The probability waves are collapsing. Many potential realities are falling, leaving behind new kinds of uncertainty.

Middle of second semester and I, as with the other seniors, am not really here anymore. For kids who get a lot of pressure to seem or be smart, high school is one long slog toward preparing for college. And all of a sudden...all of a sudden, we're running out of familiar ground.

Naturally, I am thinking a lot about the past. Looking back and getting a weird sense of vertigo, as I realize that this is my fourth time around the block. Last year--Orsolya and calculus. Two years ago--Macbeth and European history. Three years ago--wow. Three years ago I wasn't even playing euphonium yet, and that--belonging to the lower brass--is now one of the core pieces of my identity.

Naturally, I am thinking even more about the future. I registered for Caltech's Prefrosh Weekend. I looked up faculty research pages. I read campus reviews…

This entire week I have been afraid. Tired, paranoid, on edge, stressed. Why should this be? I'm a second semester senior who has been accepted to some great schools. My grades are good. I think I know who I'm going to ask to prom. It's spring break.

But I can't stop worrying. I can't stop this feeling--I know, ugh, feelings--of a sword hanging over my head. I can't stop imagining a future in which I burn out and can't find a job...and even if I am able to succeed in college, I can't help imagining that I'm never going to be allowed to relax again. Or be happy.

(A problem with me is that I spend so much time dwelling on past mistakes or making future plans that I, quite literally, forget to be happy--or rather, I forget that I'm allowed to be happy. I'm going to have to keep working on this mental/emotional aberration. But for now, I have it, and it is seriously screwing with my mind.)

I'm not sure that it's right for me to post something this valueless. A part of me thinks I should just suck it up and stop complaining, and let myself relax for the last two months of high school. But I can't do that at this moment. I'm still figuring out how I can let myself be happy.

Because complacency is my enemy. Complacency stems from contentment, and contentment and happiness are linked. At my school, I am considered successful--and none of this success would be mine if I made it a habit of being satisfied with myself. And I'm stressing because I want to continue being successful, and all the acceptance letters I've collected from schools I won't attend will haunt me during my dark hours at the university I do choose. And I want to succeed, but I also want to be happy, and I don't know how mutually exclusive those two things are.

The future is poised above me, and I don't know if I'm going to drown or grow gills.


I wrote most of the above stuff on Thursday, late at night, at the hour when all seems futile and bleak. Now, on Friday, I have spoken with two current Caltech students, and my excitement at my future possibilities is starting to gain ground over my worries. But, though now laced with excitement, I still feel trepidation as I look toward two possible futures: Palo Alto or Pasadena? Both are good choices, but I always seek to optimize and I know whichever one I choose, the other will be a great what-could-have-been.

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