Hearing about a school friend's passing away the other day knocked something a bit off-kilter in my way of thinking.
I feel numb/almost shamefully indifferent about it one moment, and then I'll burst into tears of grief and shock in another. I've fallen asleep crying and woken the next morning with a sense of guilt that I don't feel as awful as is required of me. I don't think my brain knows what to do with the information that I'll never see that familiar face again. It doesn't know where to put it and therefore how to treat it. Right now, death to my brain is a mostly foreign body as I've not experienced it since the age of nine. Nearly sixteen years ago.
The news has made it dawn on me just how meaningless life is. And I don't mean that in a let's-just-slit-our-wrists-and-be-done-with-it kind of way. It's actually lifted a huge amount of pressure from my shoulders. I constantly berate myself that I'm not living life to the fullest. I'm not rich, I'm not super-skinny and model beautiful, and (the one I kick myself over the most) I'm not happy 24/7.
Only now it's hit me. In the end, you don't get brownie points or marks out of ten. There is no grade you have to make in order to pass or fail at life. No one is going to be there to give you a prize or a pat on the back. No reward follows death.
Sounds depressing as fuck, but this knowledge feels quite freeing to me. I spend so much time thinking that I'll need (insert thing here) in order to be happy and in order to make my life "worth it." That's basically my brain telling me "well you can't be happy now, because you don't have this thing yet! Let's obsess over that and then get depressed about the fact that you can't get it!"
Fuck it, though! Who cares? Even if I do make millions on writing some book, and even if I learn to overcome my self-sabotaging behaviour and my weird relationship with food, those things would be nice, but I'm not going to be around in the years following my slipping from this world flipping back through my achievements, smugly going "yeah, I did quite well, didn't I?" because I simply won't...be.
I know I'll continue to have mood swings, bouts of crushing insecurity and moments of head rending anxiety. The only difference now is that I finally accept that this is fine. Because it has to be. And I don't have to reach some emotional nirvana to simply get on with living my life as it happens. Sometimes life just plain sucks balls, and others it's great. You get what you're given and then you're gone. That in itself is more than enough for me - I won't fail at life, because I can't.