Some days the existential dread seems to amplify into a size so great, it no longer feels like a problem for another distant day, or something that I would figure out along the way. Instead it wraps itself around me, invading my space and interrupting everything I say. On such days, the bigger questions tie themselves to the mundane buzzing in my brain so that they begin to ricochet off of the smallest ideas, snowballing into overwhelming critiques and internal debates.
“What do I feel like having for lunch? I could make a sandwich. Although I should be putting on more weight. I can’t even commit to taking care of myself, yet I have the audacity to promise my family that I’ll always be there, so have some faith.”
On such days I wonder if it will even matter what I do, or does it all go in vain? Or perhaps not necessarily in vain, but at the end of the day, my life is subject to people’s guessing game. It doesn’t matter how I spend my life, because they will interpret it based on what they see in the last days as the curtains are pulled on my life’s stage.
If I die battling an illness, my poetry will end up inadvertently in the hall of fame. Regardless of how lame, I would have now become the dame who was full of beauty and grace, and so my life will be looked at under the spotlight of my brightest days. Glorified as a hero towards the end of my life apparently erases all my mistakes, as I am distilled into someone for whom we should all pray.
If I die suddenly in an accident, “gone too soon” will become a slogan and social media would be plastered with my face. At that point the art that I create will be asked to take a backseat and wait, while everyone will try to claim a spot in my life – “we were in the same section in third grade”, “we rode the bus together”, “we had met three and a half times, to date” – for at that time, who I was, would still be of significance, but just not that great. What would be more important was for everyone to be able to stake their claim, to shove themselves into a narrative that’s trending today. I could have been an absolute bitch and they would still bow their heads and click their tongues and earnestly say, “the world will never again be the same, for today we have sent an angel into God’s embrace”.
If it is my own life I take, my passing would spark a campaign centered around their guilt and dismay. My poems about my brother’s loss would be considered nothing more than a mirror for my own pain. My loved ones will think back to even our best moments and reimagine every expression of mine as strained. Every moment I spent in this world will be manipulated to prove how dying this way always my aim, even if it was an impulsive decision I suddenly made. Any past, sour interactions will ignite an unnecessary game of pointing fingers and knighting strangers with blame. My memories will be washed with tear-soaked eyes and painted in grey, and despite all the love I may receive, people will tiptoe around my name with shame. An individual with personality and preferences I will no longer remain, for when you take your own life, you are nothing more than a statistic, a precautionary tale.
So I could apply to grad school and get another degree. I could continue finding a publisher so I can justify my career before I turn thirty. I could keep finding a job so I can get paid, because buying weed will be less guilt-inducing if done on my own salary. Or I could see that regardless of how I live my life, what I do, or what I say, the rest of the world is waiting to see what kind of ribbon will tie up my story neatly, so that they can shelf me away appropriately. If the ending is that inevitably bleak, I guess I can afford another day of saying fuck it, and just doing me.