Catching a 22 (previous blog piece)
By B.F. Harvey
There will always come a time wherein we see it, we see that we want one thing, but without it we can’t lose another thing that we wish to keep . Yet, we always talk about what it's likeprevious to being in that situation , or what it’s like when you don’t even know you are in one. To be walking that fine line, unaware that you’re balancing on the thinnest thread there is, tipping one way or another, bound to fall; whichever side you fall on is the side you must face. You know the two sides, but you cannot tell that either will lead to a catch, a break of your fall, and a break away from one thing you had, but nowlost witch something different. Maybe you wanted this new something but were too afraid to grasp it in your hand and see that you were better off at the end of it all. There’s also the possibility that you didn’t want to grab it in the first place, but not to do so would mean that something would face peril down the line, at the other side before you have fallen one way or another, stranded as you get to the other side, only to see that there is no where else to go. Of course, the numerals of how one is walking on a tightrope and is then caught is infinite, all varying to their specific characteristics of a situation, like combinations on a slot machine, all gambles in themselves. But we all catch a twenty-two, whether we realize it or not.
I suppose I just realized that I too caught one.
This was maybe two nights ago, as I was up late studying, but notreallystudying. In and out of it all, distracted by the music I was playing, when something suddenly became aware to me. I didn’t care for success as much as I used to, for that high of knowing that what I accomplished was something that I’d done, but there was something I never realized was driving this factor- and that was competitive anxiety. It wasn’t the type that said that I needed to be better than everyone else, but the kind that was fearful of failure, of letting others down, and, in particular, myself. I know, I realize… I’m selfish. In order to understand how I fell to this side of the line, to having to fight to care for my future and success, I need to time travel to last spring.
Standing on the edge of the docks, amongst the birds that called out to the stars above, screaming with a demeanor of an insane conscious, releasing all that was of the aggravation inside, as I became Atlas trying to lift the world up above, only partly achieving, still failing. My grades were doing well, but what the problem was wasn’t my school, or my art, but my sport that I clearly was not perfected in. School was rigorous as well, don’t get me wrong, trying to keep it all together, being prepared for the quizzes and tests that seemed to be constant, the projects and essays that felt to have been due every other day. There was also another couple of aspects to it: a heartbreak a month earlier, arguments that seemed never ending with my father, frustration with the ignorance and naivety of my parents towards my life, my feelings, my days. So yes, I was there on those docks, the night before my seventeenth birthday, tears falling down my face like droplets from a cumulus cloud in a derecho. Weeks later, coming home after having missed my bus for my track meet, I spoke to my mom, tears trailing down my cheeks, that I felt like her and my dad had checked out, no longer paying attention to me since my older sister went off to college, being absent and unaware of my efforts and never checking up on me or how I was doing. That feeling that even when I didn’t have anybody to lean onto, I at least had my mom, felt to have dissapeared.
Of course, we worked to make that better, but my mom then suggested I go on antidepressants shortly before the end of the school year. At the time, I didn’t think much of it. Well, in actuality, I did. It felt like I’d lost, as if my anxiety somehow pushed me over the edge and off the tightrope. I didn’t know it at the time, but the minute I first took that medicine, swallowing it down like candy, invigorating the chemicals- I’d caught a twenty-two.
Two days ago, after I’d taken the Junior PSAT’s, I admitted to my mom that I had no feeling of anxiety or pressure, I just felt… like me. There was no voice in my head saying that I needed to do great on this test, no pain in my chest that urged me on to obsess over questions I couldn’t figure out, but rather a feeling of confidence and calmness amongst the storm that is my future and the dependency of my intelligence on that. I felt nothing, I only felt a serenity that in sophmore year was not there for that test, Then, on that same night, I was studying for my AP Psychology test, thinking that none of it mattered in the end, my grades, my work, all that mattered was that I was happy with myself. But another side of me knew that was a lie, that the idea of me being unsuccessful and joyful was almost non-existent, that without one there could not be another. That’s when it occurred to me that, before, it was my anxiety that was driving me. The fear, the wish to be successful, that would’ve kept me up into the late hours of the night studying and plotting, was no longer there, and now a serene and damning calmness was there in its place.
Now, you must see? The catch twenty two already happened without me even noticing, and what was the driving force for my work ethic and devotion was gone. Maybe what has replaced it is much better, better for my mental health, better for my consciousness and emotions, but worse for my motivation for success, for my devotion to getting far in life, and achieving something bigger than myself. I’d fallen off the tightrope and did not even notice. I have no clue what this means for the road ahead of me, if this is a good thing, or if this is something that will lead me down a mediocre and less than appetizing path. I know it may sound dumb, but it’s like when an artistic drug addict is going into withdrawel, they feel that without the substance, none of what they will do will hold up and continue to be fantastic(to them at least.) It’s as I read once, “Oh the Colonel and his irony.” But it’s like a cold in a way, by the time you’re immune system begins to fight it off, it has almost reached full potential. Although the only exception with this, is that there is no complete cure. What is done is done, the catch twenty two has been decided upon, and now I head down a path that I cannot turn back on. I can only deal with what I have and push on- and I hope you all do the same, for everything is better after the fall, and you get up, and move on.