I was sitting in my room back at my parent's house recently, a room that is currently in utter chaos with books all over, paper scattered, and highlighter prominently displayed on painstakingly taken notes that I will never study. The newest year of college fast approaching with papers, exams, jobs, and internships all looming on my mind. Every day I try to finish the summer off, between my job and finding some little time to relax.
However, this day was an odd day. I was sitting in my room just listening to music, trying to ignore the weird feeling that was pestering me all day. Then I realized what it was. There were three cases that were in my room, each as empty as the day that they were purchased. Though empty, they were filled with every emotion I could cram in so I wouldn't be bothered about them during my busy life. There, in the corner of my room stood my old toy chest from my childhood, my grandfather's antique metal travel case, and my new suitcase for when I would go off to college.
No matter how much older you are or taller you grow or smarter you get, you will still long for that past, a past that isn't hindered by due dates, expectations, grades, or judgmental stares from peers and elders alike. The toy chest reminded me of my past, an era spent by mostly satisfactorily, days when I could sit alone and play, make friends with whoever liked the same soda as me, and my biggest worry was about getting a sticker on my five-sentence paragraph. In a stark juxtaposition was my brand new grey colored suitcase. The non-descript color reflected my feelings toward it. It was an amorphous feeling that could be quantified as hopeful but definitely anxious and scared.
Now, I had no time for superfluous fun, I was going to be thrown in with a roommate that I may have possibly zilch in common with, and getting an A on a 100-page thesis paper. It was less of a smooth transition from childhood into college and more of a leap of faith. I disregarded the many signs advising me to enjoy my youth and bypassed the warnings that informed me my adulthood was fast approaching. I was boarding the train of my life wondering would I be able to jump onto the train car or slam into the side and hit rock bottom. Would I remain a backseat passenger in my life or make my way to being the conductor?
That's when I remembered my grandfather's travel case, back when he was a Pan Am pilot. Talk about fear of falling on your face. Not only did he lose both his parents by the time he was 9, but he was also entering one of the state of the art fields: piloting. He was a part of the new era of commercial piloting and entered the field with a resolute dream and an inherent determination. By the end of his 41-year career, he had flown all around the globe, piloted hundreds of planes, and lived his own version of a perfect life. Was it flawless? No. But it was perfect to him. Every failure was coupled with an overwhelming success that reflected in his eyes every time I spoke to him.
I took another glance at those cases, the ones that haunted me for months, existing as a beacon beckoning in my fears like a lighthouse. When I looked at them again, I realized they were less of a lighthouse and more like landing lights, ones that help guide a plane in when it's preparing to land. Maybe my life wasn't so much like jumping onto a moving train trying to move up to be its conductor. Maybe I was already the pilot and I was just afraid of landing wrong. I realized that I didn't disregard the signs, they were right in front of me, directing me to the runway.
I had to embrace them, leave the toy chest in the hangar with my plane, take the travel case with me to carry the memory of my grandfather with me and pack my suitcase to prepare to come down from the clouds of my dreams and firmly ground myself in the world. I'm hoping that this year of college will just look like another mountain that in hindsight will be a hill.
I finally realized why my grandfather's success reflected in his eyes. It was because he saw the same potential for achievement in me. So maybe I would fall on my face a couple of times, but if I could remember that he was proud of me, I could learn, whether it be college, a job, or life, to get back up again.