Sometimes, I think that the proverbial American dream has fucked us all in the head. In every advertisement of well-dressed, attractive white people, the message is clear: if you buy our car/underwear/laundry detergent, you will be Happy. Not only Happy, but Successful. Every little girl grows up dreaming of Prince Charming, a Tiffany diamond, a destination wedding, and a white picket fence. Unless you’re me, in which case you grow up dreaming of Mr. Tortured Artistic Soul, a vintage ring, a backyard wedding, and a library full of books. In this country, every stage of life is defined for you. If you dare to step outside the box, you become the person everyone scorns, partially due to their hidden jealousy of you.
College is supposed to be the time of your life, but hey don’t forget to keep up your GPA and land a six-figure salary when you graduate. Boys, sleep with as many girls as you possibly can, or else you will regret it forever. Girls, have a little fun here and there, but don’t forget that if you don’t find a husband by the time you graduate, you never will. Everyone, develop an alcohol problem, because it won’t be socially acceptable in the future. Your 20s are all about moving to New York City, climbing the corporate ladder, and making babies. If you’re a woman and you wait until you’re 29 and 11 months to have your first child, wow you’re so progressive. Wait until you’re 30 and you’ll have people asking if you know the statistics for older mother complications. If you’re a man and you have a child at 29 11/12 years, you’ll have people giving you weird looks. What are you doing to yourself? Do you know how much you’re missing out? When will you go to Vegas and steal Mike Tyson’s tiger?!
Our school system operates on the assumption that each child has a stay-at-home
parent mother. Daycare costs as most as an Ivy league education. Feminists are going to war with each other over whether or not a woman can chose to stay at home. It’s not a choice, say those who vehemently oppose choice feminism, if a woman quits her job out of necessity because her husband refuses to quit his. Lean in, say some. Lean out, say others. Women can have it all, say some. Women can’t have it all, say others. As the middle class continues to disappear, it seems that the only people who can have it all are the 1%.
This is what I have to say to you, and especially to my fellow second-semester seniors who are terrified to fall into the abyss of uncertainty that awaits them upon graduation:
You can have it all.
Not only that, but you do have it all. It All isn’t some intangible, distant reward that you will only receive if you do everything right. It All isn’t what your family and friends have defined for you. It All isn’t what society, religion, or evolutionary biology tells you is important. It All is whatever you make it out to be. It All is yours, and nobody can ever take it away from you. It All is right here, right now.
I know that because I have it all. I don’t mean that in a my-life-is-perfect-look-at-my-successes way. I’ve written three books, but have yet to publish anything. I was recently denied both a Fulbright and a Princeton in Asia scholarship. Every day, I’m reminded of how much of a struggle life can be. Sometimes, I think I should enter a therapist’s office and never come out. Sometimes, I think that nobody should experience the inconvenience of loving me. Every day, I fail myself and those I love. But I am not a failure. I fight so that tomorrow, and the day after that, I can say that I have it all. And I do. I have the luxury of sleeping 10 hours a night, I have a horse I can ride whenever I want, I have a roof over my head I don’t have to pay for. I have friends to eat with, skate with, laugh with. I am getting paid to do what I’d willingly do for free: teach languages. On Monday, I am interviewing for a position I never thought I’d have a chance at. I have a boyfriend who isn’t perfect, but is perfect for me.
I have this blog, and the support of my wonderful readers. I have so much, and I am thankful. I have it all; I couldn’t ask for anything more.
What is It All to you? Do you think you’ve found it?
À la prochaine,