3 A.M Thoughts on Existential Angst AKA What The Fuck Am I Doing With My Life?

Dear Ashley,

I liked your post, and it got me thinking about time and school. This was just meant to be a short post but words just kept coming so I just kinda kept going and see where it took me, and before I knew it it was 4 am and well this is what came out:

Sunday afternoon. The last remnants of a roast dinner are cleared from our places as the sun falls lazily onto the table. The chatter and laughter that accompanied the food have died away and people slowly drift away from the kitchen until there are only 3 teenagers left in silence. There are no need for words; each already know what the others are thinking. I don’t want to get on the train. I want to scream, to cry, to refuse to pack, and to lock myself in my room and never come out, but I don’t.

The 24 hours at home I have snatched like an ungrateful child are drawing to a close and, as always, they only made the prospect of returning even harder. I am seventeen, stuck in the limbo between child and adult. I outgrew boarding school years ago, the bitchiness, the mean girls, the teachers, rules and vitally, the lack of individuality.  My only consolation is my two partners in crime, the Ron and Hermione to my Harry. My twin sister’s controlled face shows none of the underlying emotion as she cracks a joke with my boyfriend sitting beside me.

It’s a familiar scene; maybe we catch our train and stubbornly sneak one last cigarette, a last act of rebellion on the way from the station to our boarding houses. More often than not, we’ll miss the train, stealing an extra night at home before making the same journey bleary eyed but with triumphant smiles slightly breaking on our faces the next day.

Maybe its because its 3 am and the ghost of Janis Joplin is caressing me from my itunes library, calling to me with words I’m only now beginning to understand for their true meaning. Maybe (probably) its because I’ve been watching Gossip Girl on Netflix almost religiously for almost a week now, but your post got me thinking about time, and now somehow the rose-tinted glasses are making their way out from a pile of shit flung on them by 8 years of boarding school.

At University, and in ‘the real world,’ a thing that I have only heard stories of from incense-scented travellers cloaked in Indian silk, the rules are more ambiguous. I find myself almost longing for those simple acts of harmless teenage rebellion, whether that’s smoking in a coffee shop in the afternoons or cautiously sneaking up to my boyfriend’s room (sorry mum if you’re reading this..). School was the first book in a series; Harry, Ron and Hermione are having adventures within the safety of the walls of Hogwarts under Dumbledore’s watchful, paternal eye. Peeta and Katniss are rebelling within the structure of the Hunger Games that the gamemakers have planned for them. But then University is the final book; Harry, Ron and Hermione have fled Hogwarts and are hunting death eaters and Voldemort on their own terms. Peeta and Katniss are advancing on the Capitol, and the structure of Panem and the Hunger Games lies dead with the unsuccessful tributes.

I’m not saying that I miss Cheltenham College, on the contrary, I wouldn’t go back if you paid me thousands of pounds. I love University, the freedom and the friends and memories I have made here. But I miss my friends, my boyfriend, the familiarity and the feeling of safety within the ‘bubble.’ As humans, we instinctively make rules for societies and situations everywhere because the reality is that the world is scary. It’s terrifying. There are monsters under the bed, and we don’t even know what they are. And of course, just like a child, these monsters scare me; sometimes a lot, sometimes not, but they’re definitely there. In the real world, if I fuck up, it’s on me. My problem. If  I am going to handle the real world, I’m doing it alone. Forget gender roles, societal values, what my friends, parents, teachers and magazines tell me I should be, in the words of Bob Dylan ‘All I can do is be me, whoever that is.’

I was once given some advice that most people expect to be happy all the time, when in reality life isn’t like that; most of the time we aren’t happy, and we should accept this to have any chance of being satisfied with our lives. Maybe I’m still naïve, unencumbered by a job, a house, a family and a mortgage, but my first reaction is ‘Why the fuck not?’ Why can’t we be happy most if not all of the time? Good or bad, shit happens in everyone’s lives, often stuff we can’t control. But we can control our attitudes, you can choose whether to be a victim or not, and most importantly, you can control what you choose to learn.

I realize it’s too late to not sound like a cliché, so I might as well go all out. In the words of Henley, ‘I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul’. And yes the world is terrifying and new and just about inconceivable, but this makes it exciting, breathtaking, and worth living for. Yes, there are the unknown monsters, but monsters aren’t necessarily bad, case in point:


I guess just like Eminem and Rihanna, weve just got to remember that we are friends with these monsters, and then its all happy days.*


*I make no apologies for the copious cliches

Mary-Kate Olsen