London Child

Last week, I purchased a plane ticket. An international plane ticket. A plane ticket that has me departing in January, and returning in May.

My passport and visa forms are at the UK Consulate, awaiting approval by Brits who want to make sure I’m not a murderer or cult leader or croc-wearer. And if all goes well, I will be spending four months living, working, and learning in London, which is so overwhelmingly exciting I have yet to legitimately understand it as truth.

It is completely unfathomable.

***

I’m supposed to have my life together, right?

I mean, I’m supposed to be killing it. I’m supposed to be published (a young writer prodigy!), and have developed my own personal brand (social media superstar!); I’m supposed to be on my way to achievement – a physical, tangible sense of marketability. Why am I not there yet? Other people are!

I want these things for myself. But we know how that goes…

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“Don’t compare your chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 20”

“Compare where you are to where you want to be and you’ll get nowhere”

“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind the scenes to everyone else’s highlight reel.”

And of course, all these things are so painfully, obviously true! Versions of these sayings are knitted on pillows and splattered across tumblr dashboards, but we don’t buy them, or, at least, I don’t buy them, because their directions are so vague when we’re actually attempting to apply them to our own lives.

You see, I am constantly inspired by young artists forging their own way through a creative life. Two of these artists are Jack and Finn Harries, a filmmaker and designer respectively. They’re British twenty-something twins dominating the artsy side of YouTube.

In the latest episode of their documentary series “Following Heart,” Finn reintroduces himself:

“Hi, my name’s Finn.”

Jack: “I think they know what your name is by now. But they might’ve forgotten, or, someone might’ve subscribed in the last, like, 3 months and they wouldn’t know who you are.”

*Both laughing*

Finn: “Yep.”

*Honest, loving, genuine laughing*

Jack: “How’s life?”

Finn: “It’s been good, uh, I went away for a bit to find myself, and now I’m back, and I’ve found myself, and I’m excited to be here.”

It was so casual. How could anything so life-defining be such a nonchalant topic? Finding myself? That sounds horrifying! I don’t know how to do that! I don’t know who I am! Umm, I like naps. And I like writing things? I like throwing myself into fiction, using stories to explore, um, people, places, and things…?

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Yep. People, places, and things…

Is that all I got?

But, maybe I’m not alone? I mean, here is this talented, successful young artist talking about going away to find himself.

Are we allowed to not know who we are? Is that acceptable?

ZeFrank has a wonderful video in which he talks about how the advice “Be Yourself” is one of the most horrifying things we can hear as a child. How are we supposed to know what the hell that means? Be yourself? More like pee yourself!

As a child, I was more like a caricature of myself. In grade school, much like Ze, I somehow learned how to pick out the particular aspects of my personality that people enjoyed and play them up. My thing was always changing. One year, I was the kid who liked cheese (I even went as cheese for Halloween – a yellow mattress pad with a Greenbay Packers styrofoam cheese hat). Then I was the kid who was really good at math, obsessed with money, and destined to be a banker (a handful of my shirts had different variations of the dollar sign on them – I think it was the original Nerd Chic). And then I was the fifth-grader obsessed with the TV show Friends, who wrote an essay about Monica and Chandler’s relationship, and who taught his whole class how to sing “I’ll Be There For You”.

Yeah, I was a weird kid, I know.

Through middle school and high school, shaken by varying levels of teenage angst, depression, and anxiety, I continued the trend, albeit in a slightly different way. I became the quiet one, the one who never bothered anyone, the one who you could look at and say “meh, he’s fine”, or I was the wannabe skater kid, the kid with a weird taste in music, the emo one (as emo as you can get for a Catholic private school). Later it progressed to better, more stable versions: the theatre geek, the nerd, the writer, the quirky one.

I will admit that as a twenty-year-old, junior in college, I still don’t know who I am. Maybe I have somewhat of an idea? Maybe a combination of all my former past selves? I’m not sure – but I do know that as far as the whole journey of self discovery thing goes, I feel a bit stalled.

Of course, many would argue, including Troye Sivan, that it isn’t about finding yourself, it is about creating yourself. And, to be fair, maybe he’s right – I’ve seemingly spent my entire life wiggling in and out of temporary personas.

Am I some sort of personality shapeshifter? A chameleon? Is that my true self? Or is it something else entirely, a hidden clay waiting to be molded?

I have no fucking clue.

But I think that spending four months in another country, away from my family and friends, I may just be able to figure it out.

***

I am so grateful for my parents unconditional love and support in sending me across the pond. Come early January, I’ll hop on a plane to Heathrow, drop my overstuffed suitcases in a London apartment, and begin taking classes and interning at a London PR Agency.

It feels too cliche to say, “Dreams DO come true!”, but, there, I said it – so deal with it.

Get ready for international blogging, mates. Next time I post, it may be from the local pub, where I’ll be having a pint and chowing down on fish and chips.

God, I hope they don’t hate me over there. I will do my best not to be a terrible American stereotype.

But I will be updating you on my perilous journey of self-discovery every step of the way, in the hopes that you find solidarity in my words.

Thanks for reading – cheers!

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