The 'F' Word

"Where there is a fight, there is blood, sweat and tears, and a reason to live." | Written by May Cho of The Mayden
When I was younger and weeping at the altar of carbon-printed paper flown half-way across the world, they told me this was just another obstacle on my path towards the future, the pinnacle that would be the culmination of all my hard work. They told me that, when reached, the pain of the present would melt away leaving behind a pristine, content and happy mind. There is nothing I could want more.

"Just think of the future," they patted my head. Slammed stacks of textbooks on my desk. Assessed my worth through bell curves and scarlet letters.

But I beg the question: what the fuck is the future?

I am twenty, bored with life and excited for death.

I have spent my entire life believing I was working towards a venerable future but when faced with the word on a lazy Sunday afternoon with peers chattering about plans and career and marriage, I struggled to grasp it. My mind blacked out and, where I used to be able to see an older May, confident and content, garbed in a pantsuit and smelling like fresh brew, a career woman sans woes, I saw nothing. There was an emptiness in my timeline past present, life vacating.

Sometimes, when I feel optimistic, I dabble with the idea of planning. I dare myself to dream of travelling. When I do, it is often alongside dimpled chin and bright eyes, and he'd say, "Let's go after we graduate. Let's travel together."

"Perhaps I am afraid to live." | Written by May Cho of The Mayden | sunset, future, bokeh, photogrphy, tumblr, pinterest, words, writer
There would always be a conviction in his voice that knew no lies, hammering down words with iron-wrought bolts on the styrofoam board of my meager hope. I break, of course. He was promising to be in a future I have never thought would come to pass, so secure in it that he let no possibility of failure hinder him. I was flailing blindly in the dark, half-heartedly grasping for understanding.

Two people, barely two years apart, stood so differently under the gaze of this terrifying obscurity. I cowered. He braved. I think this scares me.

I hated the systematic way I was taught in school -- tests and deadlines, homework and exams -- and though my mind saw a life my parents planted into my head, I at least believed in something. There was a cause to fight for no matter how false on hindsight, and where there is a fight, there is blood, sweat and tears, and reason to live.

I fear I have lost this piece of the puzzle when I started questioning. I suppose blame would be the easiest placed on scepticism and a desire to want more out of life: what does "future" really mean in my life if I want to be happy and content as I have always been told to believe?

If I were to be honest with myself, though, I suppose blame would be the most accurately placed on my wayward cowardice. I breed a creature of stagnance within my bones and when the rays of a bright, startling life achievable only through honest hard work, persistence and pain rise, I shut down. I release all the values I have been taught to uphold and gather between my arms the comfort of the present day, the doubt of the flickering future smothered beneath my feet.

Perhaps I am afraid to live, afraid to believe in the possibility of a future paved by years of foiled plans and uncertainties.

I confide in older friends who tell me their lives fell into place every day they continued living, "Don't worry about it, May. I never planned my life to turn out this way and see, I'm still here."

To which I would think, full of exasperation, fear and confusion, "How do you live something you don't understand?"

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© The Mayden by May Cho.