January never seems to hold the same potential for me as it does for others. Anyone could tell you that I have some multi-faceted and ultimately strange commitment issues; I can’t even choose an ice cream flavor, let alone where I want to go to college, but nothing could describe it better than the month of January. There are all of these things that we are supposed to have done, milestones we should have met, places we’re expected to be, sometimes self-imposed, more often high school imposed. That inherent pressure to find what you are best at, or just be perfect all the time has always been confusing, why can’t we be excited and proud with where we are, right now, this moment? These days, everything seems to go back to the same Hierarchy of the Grown-Up. A week ago, while talking to a middle-aged woman at a work party my parents were having, I experienced a revelation. Each person I spoke with had ultimately decided the only thing they could relate to with me, a 17 year-old woman, was the future. What are your plans for The Future? What does The Future hold for you, young lady? Even in the moment, it seemed almost impossible not to compare myself to Angela Chase in My So Called Life, breaking out a sentimental and wise statement along the lines of: “Mrs. Dupree, I practice atomic living, therefore I cannot tell you what my plans are because the universe is ever changing and I am just one piece of the cosmos.”
To relate to the wise words of David Bowie
And these children
that you spit on
as they try to change their worlds
are immune to your consultations.
They’re quite aware
of what they’re going through
Somehow we all hit refresh in alignment with the Julian calendar, something set in place a god damn 2000 years ago, which is rather lame. What else has lasted that long, other than religion? Regardless of the arbitrary nature of the New Year, I’ve decided to overlook the contrarian in me and approach this one differently. Maybe there is a bigger power in harnessing the change that others are putting out there. The future means transformation, and for me, that means being different. Sure, I need to remember to water my plants, put my clothes away, and feel better about myself. But this year, unlike a few minor dips in the highly impressionable adolescence of teenagerdom, i.e., the sophomore self whose confidence vanished ultimately in the guise of “being conventionally cool” for a month, I have no desire to be like anyone else.
Just because it’s the first of January and everything is supposed to be different, it doesn’t mean your fingernails are going to grow at a different speed, unless you just started taking Biotin supplements or eating like 10 pounds of carrots in a day.
So this year, instead of going in with a Rebel Without a Cause attitude, à la Jimmy:
Why not embrace the cause, the cause being You. Nina Simone said that she was a “Real Rebel With a Real Cause.” Nina’s cause was, of course equality, but yours could be as simple as not pretending that you’re skipping that party to watch Lizzie Mcguire with your mom, or that you’re re-reading the Feminine Mystique, again. You are a real rebel, with a real cause; we underestimate the power that is completely embracing the true oddity of the self.
The Self is this intangible thing that we can never quite define and aren’t truly confident about. But what if we could define it, and knew ourselves so deeply that it wasn’t even hard to, and what if we were poised to champion it. As Gloria Steinem once said, “without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.” This is indeed the same woman who spoke of getting a tramp stamp on her 70th birthday, and what does that take, other than the sincerest form of self-respect and utmost confidence?
You are a Super Star.
We would love to see your musings, thoughts, and creations about the Future, and if you have thoughts on the past or butterflies, or anything that inspires you, send them over as well. Submissions can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org with FUTURE SUBMISSION as the subject.