It’s almost 3am right now. I just got dropped off by a couple of friends who were kind enough to drive me back home. One of the nice things about having a new garage door opening mechanism installed is that I can access it through an app on my phone; additionally, it makes a lot less sound than the previous one. Thanks to that, I’m able to enter the house without waking anyone: my mom, my stepdad, and my older brother.
I don’t remember the exact time that I started having picture frames put onto my walls. At first the selection was meager at best: Triple Crown certificates from elementary school, Spelling Bee participation certificates, A few piano recital participation certificates, and others such. Alongside the pace by which I grew up, so did the prestige of my walls. Soon, certificates were being replaced with actual exam scores from private music institutions. I amassed enough points in high school speech and debate to earn a certificate with some colorful stickers. Some plaques depicting my progress through policy debate even ended up here. Last, but not least, would be my Eagle Scout certificate. When I think of those walls now, they certainly would remind anyone of an office of some kind, perhaps a doctor’s or lawyer’s, and I imagine that’s what my mom had in mind when she put them in my room.
Looking back on it, it served to be a subtle but not unnoticeable reminder that I was expected to be successful. Successful in school, social relations, networking, music, Scouting, you name it. As long as I was aware of what I achieved in high school, it should have served as ample motivation for me to continue being successful well into my college run. Of course, that’s precisely what didn’t happen with me. Dropping out of college and returning home to a room filled with the expectations of the kind of person I wanted to be, well, I certainly did not make it a point to remember such things.
Today, after a few months of settling back into my room, I decided that those frames were not needed anymore, that they were just taking up space that I could be using for better things, like my anime wall scrolls and posters. Today, I spent some time taking down those picture frames, carefully peeling off each certificate that was taped to the inside, and stacking the frames and papers on my bed. I haven’t gotten around to actually replacing those wall spaces with the things I want, but it will come to pass in time.
I feel that, as stupid as this may sound, these seemingly useless pieces of paper and cloth better represent how I am at the present time than those certificates. Their uselessness is, after all, something I am empathetic towards. Maybe that’s a bit unfair to me. I’ve been doing well in junior college. 4 A’s and a C this semester to be exact. I’ve expanded my social circles to include not only the people I study with but also the kids in my old high school, all of which are too young to identify me as an alumni, as a sort of speech and debate volunteer coach.
I like to think that I give good advice and tips on how the students can better argue their points and have effective debates. All this, at least, I can be proud of. What doesn’t stop me from feeling inadequate is the fact that I’m 23 years old without a degree, a job, a car, or private space. I’m struck by the sort of emptiness of my walls, now bare with nails sticking out of them, as if to represent all the things I actually did with my life after high school.
Okay, now that is completely unfair. At least I learned a bit how to cook while I was in university. I managed to land a part time job for the first time when I could still drive, and he’ll, I could drive really well up until the seizure happened. Still, I feel inadequate for how old I am. Part of this may be because I was raised this way, that anything is possible as long as you put in the effort. So if I were to fail in any task, it would mean that I didn’t try hard enough. My mistake, it seems, was accepting that I wasn’t going to succeed, and assumed, wrongly as I would find out, it was because I was not trying hard enough. That I was lazy. Perhaps, even, a bad person. An irredeemably bad person, at that. I truly did not have a lot of self esteem at the time.
Still though, when I quietly enter my room after the New Years party, I notice that the picture frames that used to be on my bed have been moved to the hallway, probably by my mom. She probably doesn’t fully understand the significance of why I chose to bring them down, but I do think that she understands to some extent how restricted I am because of my circumstances.
So I wonder if, with those picture frames out of sight and therefore out of mind, my actions today (yesterday) would be considered significant in the long fun. As of right now, I don’t think so. I don’t know, to be more precise. It’s only really been a day, after all. It’ll take some more time to adjust to thing.