At a quarter to midnight, I got an email. The masters programme that was my only ticket out of this year-long rut commonly referred to as my life had turned me down for a scholarship. I was officially out of ideas and options. But that utter desolation of my dreams and hopes was not what got me rolling my eyes at the ceiling (ostensibly at the big guy upstairs). It was more to do with the fact that it was the night before my birthday. Talk about timing. I understand rejection, its been my only faithful friend all of last year, but this was just way too cruel. The minutes I spend taking account of my year, letting go of my failures, embracing my blessings, and dreaming up a whole new lot of impossibilities, were spent gathering up shards. My heart is so splintered, I’m afraid one day a piece or two will slip from my fingers and I will loose the chance of ever being whole again. And on my birthday! For shame.
This time last year, I was thanking God for a fantastic run at the best university in the world. I was going to graduate, I had two PhD offers under my belt, my parents loved me, I had hundreds of friends who were there for me from opposite corners of the world, and there was a thigh gap beginning to appear. This year, I have achieved absolutely nothing, I have been rejected by every job and scheme I applied to, my father has started to avoid my eyes, my friends don’t even pick up, let alone call, and I am afraid I have been reduced to an inconvenience. At 22, I am sitting alone trying to figure out why I have not managed to inspire genuine affection in people so that they would listen to me whine because it might end up making me laugh. My life feels like an epilogue. At 22.
By any standards, I am the biggest failure I know. I rose the highest, and have fallen the hardest. When all my friends are starting to achieve and live, I have lived and failed. Talk about expectations. I’m a Ms Havisham for sure, at the table long after the party has ended. And here’s why I am still sitting in front of the cake. I have an extraordinary capacity for joy. Its my favorite thing about myself. That and my taste in clothes. So even if there are absolutely no friends, and no party, and no balloons, and only a stale cake to go around, I can find a way to be happy.
Here’s my favorite thing about life: the word ‘absolute’ rarely applies. Even today, I have two friends, my mother and my sister, who are here with me. And I have four, slightly deflated, balloons. Its hardly a party, but relatively speaking, it ain’t so bad. Expectations only hurt when they come in the way of happiness. Grab at every little chance for happiness, stop punishing yourself for not living upto your expectations. Expect to live life searching for happiness inspite of your and the universe’s shortcomings. Live in the now. We don’t know how many tomorrows we have coming, we only have today for sure. So don’t waste today planning for tomorrow. Live a little. Leave a little.