Written by Sean Hoffman
There’s something to be said about the old line “The best-laid plans of mice and men / Often go awry.” Something gets lost along the way. Something gets overlooked. And how often when we are left with broken plans and unfulfilled expectations, we find little more than excuses and not so much as an explanation. Sometimes we become warped in confusion, our brains trying desperately to find the problem, the kink that went wrong, the mistake. And often the brain comes to a similar conclusion each time, that something wasn’t taken accounted for properly, a variable that was not so much as lost and forgotten, but merely misplaced.
I wish to convey a case in which the plan in itself remained quite intact, but what was misplaced, was the very core behind the idea of the plan: a desire. Often in my life I was regarded by friends, teachers, and family members as an adult before my time. So much so, these relatives and mentors granted me their expectations and plans at a young age that at the time I accepted with pride. “I could handle it,” I said to myself. But something wasn’t accounted for along the way. And it was simply, that I wasn’t able to. And the years began to show it.
My mother used to say I had an “old soul.” I felt that this was accurate but far from the meaning which was meant. My mother had meant that I held a sort of reverence for the composites of everyday wisdom; in reading, conversing, and living. That I was sensitive to the subtle struggles one faces in a daily basis in which form that very essence of character that this blog wishes to address. She, along with many others, belived I would meet any challenge and be victorious. But in truth what I saw in the mirror was a tired, empty shell beyond itself in the masking of what had used to be an energetic and warming character, one that had so often been alluded to after it was gone and so often shrugged off by myself as my eager past life, forgotten only so that I may not wrap myself in the guilt of “what had gone wrong.”
I lacked any real sense of my own desires. I lacked motivation and energy. And the excuse I got was: depression. I was able to maintain a superficial appearance for plans, which allowed me to mold in with what would be aspiring classmates. I had like any person wishing to make sense of his or her life, compiled to-do lists, and prioritized the everyday duties but the only difference was that my name was listed as number one. I had hidden myself from head to toe with this and other imitated methods of organization, making sense of what exactly had made everything so overwhelming and me so useless. But nothing changed, whether I completed any of the tasks or not. Nor how many plans I concocted to free me from myself. I began to feel isolated and absent, and so I began to act in that manner as well. Hope, cheer, ambitions, pain, and exhaustion were what I saw in my classmates as they carried themselves with dignity throughout the time in school and through the pivotal moments that were theirs to command as their hard work had come to fruition in the form of a diploma and acceptance letters. Their first major chapter was met with applause and congratulations and there I was right next to them having made it through, without any sense of victory, and a tired shell. At most I had survived without meeting a greater number of the expectations I had promised to make.
But if I am going to be true to my mother’s words, then I must be able to find some meaning behind this, some sense of wisdom, some victory. I have imitated those who have wisdom and have experienced an emptiness I wished no young person to feel, so lastly some reflection must be surmised. I looked in hopes to find an explanation instead of excuses. But I felt I lacked in gaining any sort of character out of this nonsensical misplacement of belonging and felt no freeing of guilt. I’m still looking only now in the nonsense and without a plan. Not back to the expectations, but to my own. I knew well that if any change was going to be made I needed to start desiring a change in myself, not hiding behind notions of how others which have kept me from seeing myself a path. I am misplaced. Not lost.