on the present

For as long as I can remember, the next step in my life has always been more important to me than the one I am taking.

I spent the first semester of ninth grade counting down the days until winter break, and I spent the second semester of ninth grade counting down the days until I was 25 percent done with high school — I literally thought about that percentage. I spent 10th grade counting down the days until I was done with my first AP class.

But as high school goes on, I am coming to the realization that the time I have left watching Netflix for hours and hanging out with my childhood friends is limited. Suddenly, the next step is becoming more of a blur and, finally, I am focusing on the step I am taking right now.

I am a dreamer and the “next step” that I am constantly thinking about, which consequently takes away from the time I spend thinking about the present, is whatever dream I have at that time. Right now, the dream is that I might one day live in London and work in a fancy office and live a fabulous life. Dreaming is who I am, and every dream I have ever had will always be a part of me. The first time I remember dreaming about a fantasized life must have been in seventh grade, and they have never held me back — until maybe now.

Recently, I have learned to let go of these dreams a little bit because I cannot afford to spend more time planning them and less time enjoying my senior year.

I always hear about people wanting to find themselves and taking time for themselves, but I never thought of myself as the type of person who would need to do that. I always associated that type of self-discovery with a form of recovery, but I am learning that I do not need to be recovering from something in order to work on myself.

I want to find what makes me happy. I want to find a passion — something that I would feel incomplete without, because as of now, my passion is dreaming, and I want that to change. As high school progresses, the idea of change has become a much more positive prospect in my mind. In ninth grade, I used to be afraid of anything that would change how I looked, how I acted or even how I studied, but today I find myself saying, “I want to change something.”

I even considered dyeing my hair, which is something I have been against for as long as I can remember. I am not sure if I just do not know myself as well as I thought, or if I am simply in the process of finding myself, but there is one thing I am sure of: I want to find myself when I am living on my own.

In college, I will be away from everything that has been a part of my routine for the last 17 years, and frankly, I am genuinely excited for that. Maybe a shock to my system is exactly what I need to get closer to what makes me happy, to get closer to living in a dream rather than living for a dream.

by Mahan Chitgari