The Not So Secret Life of an American Teenager: The Timeline

The Not So Secret Life of an American Teenager: The Timeline

By: Avery Harris

As I approach the beginning of my final year of High School, I can’t help but reflect on my childhood. While the nostalgia serves as a perfect distraction from the stressors of what I’m meant to do with my future, it also tends to become a distraction from the perfect mess that is simply growing up. Only now, as I sit to write to all of you, do I truly understand that both the past and the future are a part of the present and vice versa. Life is not a singular line, but an endless round of growth and opportunity. 

The Timeline, or I guess, Time Circle, of Life

It can be quite comical watching as the world spins its cycles around the sun, carrying each of its 8 billion inhabitants along with it, every individual taking their own, different journey along the same discoid path. While some of us spend each cycle reminiscing over the past and making leaps and bounds to create an idealistic and romanticized future, others remain grounded in the reality of the world around them and the present-day. I am no fortune teller or grand scientist, and I am in no place to say whether the relic, the dreamer, or the realist is right, but I have found that all of them have their own points of strength and points of weakness.

At times, I have found myself to be a nostalgist, looking back at my former loves, losses, and missed opportunities as I ponder what I could have done better or how to return to my former state of being. I find that this is often the most dangerous state to be in. Because, the truth is, the past is long gone and can not be changed or edited to meet the criteria of our own self pity and regret. While the events of our prior selves can no longer be changed, they serve as one of the greatest foundations for growth and strength. As they provide a vision as to where we once were and how we have transitioned to where we are now.

This foundation of change can be an inspiration for the dreamers, who have engulfed themselves so far into the future that they seem to be living in the clouds.

At times where I catch myself attempting to speed up the inevitable movement of time itself, I am almost always doing so to trade the misery and misfortune of my current life for a romanticized future that I can only wish for. This frame of mind creates a hope and desire for a better life, pushing me to be my best and to work hard to achieve my greatest dreams. The danger in this lies in the probability of failure and the lack of appreciation for life as it already is.

The lives that we map out in our minds are simply unrealistic, manicured versions of what growing up really entails, and leave out all of the unforeseen conflicts that will inevitably appear along the path of life. Realism provides a sense of grounding and determination that the dreamers and relics fail to notice. It allows us to truly take in and appreciate the time that we have at this very moment. Living in the present serves as a reminder of the dangers of holding on to the past, as well as running blindly to the future. The present creates a life full of memories and learning opportunities to look back on during our brief moments as an escapist and to prepare ourselves to create our desired lives that we have envisioned during our fleeting instances as an idealist.

We must not only look back at our mistakes and triumphs or shoot for the perfect future.

Nor should we forget about all that we have experienced and who we want to become to focus on the now. We must instead remain in orbit, moving between all times of our eternal experiences as we are forced to face the same realities time and time again. We must remain wise in our perspective with our hearts open, our minds prepared, and our eyes willing and ready to take in all of the perfect, fleeting moments of this life, realizing that no matter how far we have come, we never really moved. Instead, we grew and we fell and we rose up again, remaining one individual in a sample of 8 billion inextricable pasts, presents, and futures, all trapped in the same circular rotation of time and space.

To travel a circle is to journey over the same ground time and time again. To travel a circle wisely is to journey over the same ground for the first time. In this way, the ordinary becomes extraordinary, and the circle, a path to where you wish to be. And when you notice at last that the path has circled back into itself, you realize that where you wish to be is where you have already been… and always were…” Quote by: Neale Donald Walsh

Previously on The Not So Secret Life of an American Teenager