On December 11th, 2009, only just a little more than a year ago, I graduated college with a degree in Mechanical and Electronics Drafting. I was twenty years old. I already had a lead on a post-degree job. I had joined MENSA and had my first national publication in their magazine. After years of depression and bullying and a very dark personal spiral, things were looking bright. Uncertain and strange and unknowable, but bright.
Then the next year…things got…rough.
And the trajectory of my life would take another very sharp turn. Then another and another and another.
And now it’s December of 2019, and I’m thirty.
And things are okay. I daresay they’re good. And they’ve settled into gentler patterns over the last few years. I am, however, on the older side for many who work in my various fields. I was “late to the game” in a lot of ways, and that comes with a certain amount of “catching up.” And sometimes that can feel a little discouraging. We tend to hang a lot of weight on getting things done by a certain age or meeting these arbitrary deadlines, and it can be hard to escape that even when you logic it out. This is especially true if one of your major points of identity growing up was being precocious and mature. Being able to read or do math above your age level really just…doesn’t matter…like…at all…
So there’ve been a lot of times when I’ve met someone my age or five or six or seven or nine years younger, and I feel a pang of jealousy that they’ve accomplished things I wished I could have accomplished already. Had I known, of course, that those were things I wanted to accomplish at the time. And it’s not envy for what they have and I don’t. My friends have worked hard, and I’m very proud of them. One wonders, though, how things might have been different had the river of life had taken course. If time hadn’t been spent in formative years with pursuits that would end up never bearing fruit.
Then I remember how much a love of science plays a part in my writing. How much biology and genetics and physics I play with in a fantasy setting. Learning how to draft and work with solid objects helped me jump into illustration, and I still go back to things I studied in those days when I get stuck. Leaving acting for a number of years grew the remote voice acting community and gave me something to come back to that I could flourish in.
I couldn’t do what I’m doing now even a few short years ago. There was no money or energy and I don’t know that my mental health would have allowed it. It took time and the ever so gentle manipulation of factors to put the pieces into place to allow me to do the things I want to do without falling apart.
I also couldn’t be the person I am at the time I am without having been all those other people spread across time like they were. At any given time, whether we realize it or not, we are everything we’ve ever been. With obvious exceptions, sometimes you really do have to be another person before you can be the current version of you, and the you of today will have irrevocable effects on the you of tomorrow. And the world’s worst silver lining, but when things are horrible and you can’t stop them, at least you can try to find a little comfort in knowing the future you will be stronger for having gotten through it.
So, yeah, I look back at the decade and I think “damn, look at all this time I wasted just surviving. Why couldn’t I have figured my life out quicker?”
But then in that ten years’ time I’ve gotten married and bought a house and set up a voice studio and shipped eight games and appeared on national television and gave my voice to so many awesome characters. I’ve started the process of straightening out my mental health and already made large strides in that regard. I’m not as angry as I used to me and while still deal with depression, I have more tools in my belt to deal with it. And, yeah, maybe I hit a lot of the milestones in the latter half of my twenties, but it’s nothing to sneeze at.
I’ve worked my ass off. And I’m going to continue to work my ass off. And the new decade is going to bring new things, some I can control but a lot that I can’t.
And I don’t know what’s going to happen.
And that’s okay.