Slipping Through My Fingers

It struck me today that I, like everyone else, am getting older. I don’t fear aging; it’s natural, unstoppable, and beautiful.

To agonize over the inevitable silver hair and crow’s feet is a waste of time. Truly, that is not what troubles me the most. I fret at how time will slip through my clutching fingers like sand in a sieve, relentlessly disappearing. You may laugh at my petty concerns – at fourteen, I have all the time in the world – and I admit, it is bizarre. Why am I so concerned at the prospect of seemingly infinite time? But even at my age, I’ve realized that the circumstances regarding my future have changed. When I was ten, I’d think about it, but for all my contemplation, no one took me seriously.

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“Don’t worry,” adults said, confident smiles on their faces. “you have time to think about it.” But in the span of four short years, everything has changed. Now that I’m in high school, every poor grade is a wincing slap against my future – a college deterred, a reflection of myself. And I cringe, waiting for the day when someone – a guidance counselor, a teacher, a parent – asks me sincerely, “What are you going to do with your life?” I’m not stupid. I’ve given the topic some thought, though casually.

But the idea of committing to one profession, one location, and one lifestyle until I die makes me break out in a cold sweat. I still want to be everything – except I know I literally can’t. For all that prattle of my ability to pursue anything, I really can’t. I’m too old to be a prodigy, to become an Olympian; heck, I missed out on the opportunity to play volleyball for my school team. And while, no, I don’t really like volleyball, care about winning a gold medal, or want to be a prodigy, it’s still a kick in the gut when I see kids barely older than me breaking records, and realize that I’ll never do that.

All around me, doors are slamming shut, but wasn’t I taught that this was the age when they’d all be wide open? Really, this is what I’m afraid of: I fear that one day, maybe 30 years from now, I will look back on this moment, as I currently look at the endless stream behind me, and ask “Why?” Why couldn’t I have risked it all and picked another door, another life, instead of keeping my hand so firmly clasped on the one I was holding? No one I know would understand if I expressed this fear – a slow-burning, yet all-consuming doubt. I don’t quite understand it either. But I know enough to grasp that, despite my plans and intentions, I am utterly lost.