Monday Musings: Metaphorically Speaking, Water Your Plants

Welcome to ‘Monday Musings’!

A new segment from Teenplicity, ‘Monday Musings’ will explore personal interests and thoughts in a multitude of ways. Whether it be through lists, fan interaction, or discussion posts, each week will offer a different topic and new perspective from Teenplicity about what is on our mind. The range of topics, just like our interests, will be vast. Some might be familiar, as it could highlight previous feature stars, while others will discuss uncharted subjects for Teenplicity. They might be fun posts with a silly twist or a more serious discussion about something that could concern you.

The goal is for Teenplicity to become more engaged and involved with our readers. The Teenplicity Team is made up of fans, just like you. Let us know what you care about – a show, a film, music, an event or aspect of your life. There are no limits for what can be explored in ‘Monday Musings’ or how we present it to you.

So, I’ve had the idea to make this post my very first Monday Musings post for weeks now. It popped up in my head randomly. (I don’t remember the specifics but I’m sure it was me procrastinating trying to write something else—that’s what writing is pretty much, just coming up with ideas for one thing when you’re supposed to be working on a different thing.)

I figured whatever I wrote should be something really deep and profound. I’m talking life-changing. I’m talking so reflective and clever and witty and intelligent that you, as the reader, would go “Hmm…not bad, kid.” or like, “Wow she has the key to life! And at the young age of 22 going on 23! What’s her secret?!”

I also knew that this was the week I would want it to go up.

But here’s the thing, after spending weeks trying to figure out the actual words for this post and the purpose of this post and what it’d mean to me (and maybe to you) for this post to even exist, I realized my post wouldn’t be any of that.

Here was my original idea: 23 things I learned before my 23rd birthday. You see, it was a clever idea in my mind because I turn 23 in a couple of days! Aren’t I so brilliant and original?! Then I realized I couldn’t think of 23 things I learned before my 23rd birthday that probably hadn’t already been said by someone else in some self-help book or a Buzzfeed video or a Twitter thread or from that one stranger who took you accidentally glancing at them in a public space where neither of you can leave as you looking for a conversation so they started talking your head off about whatever. Is that example too specific? I feel like this is relatable?

Then this post became ‘23 things I wish someone told me before I turned 23.’ That list slightly got off the ground. I have an unfinished draft saved with advice that ranged from “Add things to your resume immediately after you do it because if you don’t you’ll forget until you have to apply for something and it sucks” to “No one really knows what they’re doing and everyone is tired.” It’s not as bad as it sounds, but I also haven’t looked at the draft enough times to hate it just yet. (Writing is also just looking at drafts or blank pages and convincing yourself you made a mistake.) I just never finished it because I realized that wasn’t necessarily what I wanted to write either.

It hit me that the reason I didn’t feel like either of those ideas were fitting was because I’m technically a nobody—I knew this already but still, it hit me. Like why would you take 23 pieces of advice from me if the most you know about me is that I co-run this website and that I maybe (absolutely) use Twitter too much? Also, 23 pieces of advice felt so excessive. Also, also I wouldn’t even take 23 pieces of advice from myself. Even this post as it is right now the way you’re reading it is ridiculous! You have every right to be reading it right now and going, “Where are you going with this? Did you just want people to know you’re entering your Jordan Year? Were you just trying to give Mary a break for the week?”

This post is actually me sharing my un-wisdom regarding the way I’m slowly starting to get better at trusting the process while also remaining motivated to continue working. At least, I think that’s what this post is about anyway. For the longest time I always thought if I wasn’t good at something the first time I tried it, I failed. I’m also ridiculously stubborn and hate failure so you can imagine the kind of stress I am consistently under in my mind. Here’s the frustrating thing about this weird as hell period of time that is described as “new adulthood”: a few people might get lucky but for the most part everything takes time before it starts.

That’s right, despite the occasional a-ha moments you may receive, overnight success is not a real thing. This website is a great example of that. Just look at how many posts we had our first couple of years.

You know at concerts when they tell you the show starts at 8 pm and you check your phone exactly at 8 yet the show hasn’t started? You’re like “What is this??? I’ve been here since doors open! My legs and back hurt! Please come to the stage!” and then about 10 minutes later the act arrives. I think new adulthood is that 10 minutes of anticipated waiting even though we were always told it was supposed to be the actual show. It doesn’t have to be. It can be the preparation period and/or it can be the opening act.

And that can be a tough pill to swallow. It’s hard to accept this and come to terms with why on earth there are so many systems, trials, and tests put in place for people to accomplish things. Especially when most of those systems, trials, and tests are put in place to make it difficult for specific people to accomplish things. (Specific is code for the multiple levels of marginalization.)

I spend a lot of time thinking of the things I feel like I can’t do. Or thinking of the things I wish I could do. Or thinking of the things that I hope I’ll be able to do in the future. I won’t pretend like that makes me special, I know a lot of us do that. Especially in young/new adulthood because everything feels like the levels to a video game that we haven’t unlocked yet. I actually think it’s fine to do this, but maybe that’s just me rationalizing my own behavior and habits.

What I think isn’t fine is when doing this makes it harder for us to appreciate what we can offer currently. When I was 18 I had this idea in my head that if I were ever to be an accomplished writer, I would have to be published in a book by 21. Why? Partially because I thought it was just ambitious enough for me to obsess over but also so I could kick off my 20s feeling like I knew what I was doing. I, like most, was a child of Disney Channel and Nickelodeon, okay? My whole childhood was basically just watching people in my age range living the life I wanted to have. Basically what I mean by that is I was convinced that I had to succeed young if I were going to succeed at all despite having no idea or way to get there or what it meant for me, personally to find success.

Even though I don’t think it shows necessarily in the writing I did on here at the time, this belief led to me at 18 attempting to write in ways that I thought would make me seem “publishable.” I’ll be honest and say that I think I was writing the stories I wanted to write then, but it wasn’t necessarily me. Writing professors kinda have this way of telling you (sometimes subtly and sometimes directly) that a good storyteller is someone that has lived a very wild life and basically done every/anything. They tell you to write your truth but also that you’re supposed to be traveling, even if you can’t afford it, to places unknown and doing everything you’d never do in a million years and then write about it because that’s where the story is! That’s what people will care about! So nine times outta ten, basically the opposite of your truth. And even though I was as hesitant then about it as I am now, I still took the mixed messages and ran with it. (I also have some thoughts on the whole “writing your truth” thing but maybe another day.)

Anyway, I reached the age of 21 and guess who wasn’t published in a book? Me. Guess who felt like she missed out on a milestone? Me. Guess who actually didn’t though? Hint: Me.

Listen, if I made myself a five-year plan at the age of 18, these past five years probably would not have lived up to them. That being said, I’ve worked so hard these past five years and have done so many cool things and made so many cool things that 18-year-old me couldn’t’ve predicted. I didn’t get published in a book by the age of 21, but two short stories I’ve written are being published in a book this year when I turn 23. I’ve been in and worked on short films and videos that people have watched and been impacted by. I’ve written and collaborated on scripts that may or may not be made at some point. I feel comfortable writing in and exploring different kinds of writing and calling myself a writer of many trades.

Maybe these optimistic reflections and hopefuls don’t sound that huge but that was something that 18/19-year-old me literally went into her college advisors office panicking about because she thought she’d made a mistake she could never return from by pinning herself down as just a prose writer and now she wouldn’t graduate on time and she’d lose her scholarships before she could finish getting her degree. (I know that spiral probably sounds so silly, but it be like that sometimes.)

Also, not for nothing but I randomly decided to take a tap dancing class last year and was very much only okay at it and I’m okay with that. I still had fun and every once in a while find myself practicing it.

In an ideal world, the value of time would be cherished better. We wouldn’t be expected to peak as young as possible or be labeled as a genius who never can. We also wouldn’t be told that anyone who waits and finds comfort in making sure they’re prepared before making the jump isn’t playing the game of life correctly. The same goes for the people who just want to make the jump and see what happens. But, as social media and the news and history constantly reminds me, we’re not in an ideal world. We’re in the direct opposite of an ideal world that we’ve only partially managed to figure out how to kinda survive in.

So how can I end this post on a positive note? I don’t really know but I’ll try. Remember that even if you’re not where you want to be at the moment, if you’ve done anything you’re proud of, go ahead and flex. If you’re like me and you’re too superstitious to say, announce, or celebrate anything until after it’s confirmed enough that you’re sure it’s happening, a flex doesn’t have to be public for it to still be a flex. This’ll sound mad corny but sometimes stuntin’ on haters is just you reminding yourself what you’re capable of.

Or maybe I’m just projecting!

Either way, whatever you need to do to keep yourself motivated when time doesn’t feel like it’s on your side and you feel stuck or like you’re not doing everything you think you could or you see everyone else in your age range posting about multiple accomplishments, think about all the dope things you’ve been able to do because it’s what you had the capacity to do. Your capacity isn’t the same as theirs even if you have similar circumstances and as long as you are at least doing something or trying to do something, that means something is at least getting done.

I have a ton of unfinished things sitting in journals, on my computer, on my phone, on random sticky notes and napkins and scraps of paper scattered around my room. Some of those things have ended up being used for other ideas. And some of those things, I look back on them and realize that I’m not ready for it yet, but it’ll be here for me when I am. Others I just come back to every once and awhile and add to them like plants being watered. Some may never, ever get off the ground or become anything.

It’s time-consuming. Sometimes it’s very annoying because I just want them to be done already. But still, just because I don’t have everything finished doesn’t mean I don’t have stuff finished. Nor does it mean I’ll never finish anything. I so badly want to make a joke about Professor Finbarr Calamitous, the villain on Jimmy Neutron who could never finish anything. But, I’ll spare you and just say, trust the process, trust the time that you personally require, and water your plants when needed (metaphorically speaking but also if you really gotta do it, then go do it.)

Did you like ‘Monday Musings’? If so, you’re in luck! Each week, Teenplicity will feature a new ‘Monday Musings’ post about things we are looking forward to, topics close to our hearts, or suggestions from readers!

Do you have a suggestion for ‘Monday Musings’? You can let Teenplicity know what you’d like to see on Twitter or anonymously on Tumblr! Or you can directly contact Mary Ayers on Twitter and anonymously on Tumblr or Brie Garrett on Twitter and Tumblr
(photo cred: Brie Garrett)

23-year-old Chicagoan and Creative Writing/Television graduate that's always writing, reading, and watching something. Future creator of television and books, co-creator of this website. Follow my Twitter and Tumblr to learn more.

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