Angsty title, I know.
It's been a while since I've written on this blog. To be honest, I fell off my writing habit last year as the cold settled into the New York air and seemingly froze the part of my brain that knows how to write.
The frost left back in May, which was also when I published my first piece of writing since the blog post back in October. It was admittedly academic – if you've been keeping up with my Twitter you probably saw it. Or didn't. I don't have very many expectations.
A lot has happened since October. I'm halfway through grad school, I scored an internship at a startup I've been eyeing for years + a cozy studio, and I've cleared out a lot of drama. Sometimes, on a Saturday evening when the sky's pink and I've been reading for a few hours with last night's pizza box on my coffee table next to a half-empty wine glass, I think about how I dreamed of this life for years. The only love letter I'll ever write will be to this city. I'd say Mumbai, too, but that city already has a piece of my heart.
The changes of the past few months have had one thing in common: they have felt like progress. I always imagine a fulfilling life to look like a neverending rollercoaster. Everything's always better than before, and the higher you go, the more the excitement and anticipation builds up. Unfortunately, there's no such thing as a neverending rollercoaster; what goes up must come down, sometimes quickly and in a life-altering way. That's where the dread comes in – with every rung conquered, there's the increasing dread of the drop: the moment when the rollercoaster finally hits its highest point, and then it's constant ups and downs until it comes to a halt.
This is agonizingly existential, yes – my quarter life crisis seems to be hitting at 23.
The reality of living in a different country on a visa is you never actually know how long that life will last. It's also the reality of coming to terms with the possibility that you may just have to take that final flight back home. Now, with a recession looming (or actually, in full effect), I don't really know what landscape I'll be graduating in. Yes, media is a broad field, but who cares about marketing hires when funds are low and morale is even lower? Having to diversify my knowledge is something I've been doing since a young age, but I never anticipated it becoming so critical at a turning point in my life.
I went for a networking event last month. It was full of people who worked in web3 and crypto and I met some really interesting people who worked at this really cool company. One of them offered to submit my resume to HR so I could get a hand at recruitment. Of course, they prefaced this by very strongly indicating that they weren't "actively hiring" right now. The market's gone to shit, everyone's losing money, and the only thing keeping me going is the glistening hope that when I need it, everything will fall into place. After all, it has thus far, so why should that change?
What I mean to say is this: I expect a lot from myself. I know the people around me expect me to do cool shit. Fuck – they believe it more than I do sometimes. I've never been one to let others' expectations cloud my vision, but when those expectations line up so closely with what I want for myself, it feels like life or death. I've come to realize that sometimes potential just isn't enough for success. Is there defeat in admitting that maybe you're just in the wrong place at the wrong time?
I don't really have an answer for that. For the longest time, I considered having to go back home after graduation some kind of defeat. You spend so much money (even on a scholarship) to study in the city of your dreams, but you don't even know how long you're going to be able to bask in that victory. Sure, my visa allows me to stay here for a couple years thanks to the STEM designation of my degree, but I still need something to qualify for that. I once expressed this fear to my parents, and they admittedly did knock some logic into me. It's not defeat if I let it break me down, and self-pity is a losing game – but in this practicality, is there still some room for mourning?
But, what do I know? I'm just a 23 year old riding a rollercoaster with a blindfold.