Heave. Heave. Heave.
Your chest when you wake up in the morning.
Your eyes snap open, realizing that you exist. Your room exists. You are real. This is all real. This makes your chest heave more violently than before. As though the swelling of your lungs could somehow free you from the turbulence that is life and that life itself could be as simple as breathing.
It should be, right? I just get up, put on my stupid clothes, after taking a stupid shower, and I look stupid, I go to stupid class, I learn some stuff, and then I come home to sleep to dream.
I like class. But I hate myself. This is my confession. I hate myself. I have learned something at USC. You either love yourself and succeed, or hate yourself and fail. And it has nothing to do with anyone but you. Tad of a responsibility, huh? Now you see why my chest vibrates with anxiety in the morning. Sometimes I feel like I am going through the motions and if I just tell myself I’m making progress, in some capacity, some sense, maybe I will stay sane. “Happy.” Successful. Stupid wife and boat and kids and money and a big car and a big house in the suburbs where I am whole and everything is peaceful.
I’m ready to tell you this. In confidence. It’s all a lie.
Yes, girls, Barbie lied. Degrassi lied. Television lied. To you. To me.
We can’t be perfect. No matter how hard we try. You will never live up to the expectations society has set for you.
This message comes with hope. The message is to live for yourself. Truly. You. What do you want? Do you want to fly to France in a month and start over as a chef? Do you want to save children in Third World countries? Do you want to cook chicken noodle soup for your grandchildren one day?
Your dreams are the real goal. Never let society tell you how to feel, think, act, believe, or breathe.
Heave. Heave. Heave.
Anxiety. Make life good. Love yourself. Be true to yourself. I promise: the pain stops when you live for yourself and only yourself.
Keeley Tarter is a senior majoring in Critical Studies in Cinematic Arts.