This weekend I spent two nights with some of the best people I know, whether or not they know that consider them that. The Daily Bruin set out for Big Bear and among many laughs we set about “bonding activities.” I normally scoff at such contrived attempts to make people friendly toward one another. I’m doubtful. I rarely trust anyone fully. I find myself repeatedly disappointed in people, my peers, even my friends. People are flakes, they lie, they’re selfish. I still hold a pretty bleak outlook, but I was happy to feel a little differently at least for last night.
As we sat in a silent circle with lights off, people began to quietly share their insecurities, their stories, their hardships. And we cried. But no matter how close I felt I was ready to share my thoughts, I couldn’t. I regret that. I was surrounded by individuals sharing their most emotional secrets, at their most vulnerable, yet I didn’t have the courage to say a word.
I felt like my life couldn’t possibly compare to the stories I heard.
But what I wish I would have said was that I don’t know where I’m going. My family, seemingly an image of normalcy, is not. My father disrespects my mother regularly. She wouldn’t call it verbal abuse, but I do. I don’t ever want that. It scares me. My parents have been married for 27 years, but I don’t know that I’d call them all happy years. It’s because of their marriage that I’ve always believed that I’ll never marry. I don’t know that I believe in a love that doesn’t expire. My father has mood swings more violent than a light switch. And with my brother now in his first year of college, my parents really are alone with each other. Each time I come home, I hug my mom every chance I get. And ever since I left for college, she has told me that she “misses her hugs.” My brother refuses to show affection to anyone - he never said goodbye to me when I moved out and he’ll never know how much that hurt. My existence is unimportant to him, aside from using my name as a word for heated debate with my mom, arguing that “I’ll never be Lauren. I don’t want to be.” My successes have been the object of his detest. My dad does not show affection to my mom. It kills me and I know it hurts my mom most of all. She is the most selfless person I know. And I hate to see her unappreciated. With my last quarter of college ending in just 10 weeks, I don’t know what to do with my life. I want to pursue a career in the art world, something most find confusing and even more find too trivial to ever bother with. The art world is not in L.A., I know that my options are glaringly limited. I also know that New York is where the art world is should I actually pursue the goal I’ve had in my head since I painted a second grade interpretation of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” I’m researching Teach for America as my last resort to get to another area of the country, but all signs point to staying away from home. Staying away from home, further than the traffic of the 405 and 101 barrier that it’s been these last 3 years, would mean leaving my mom for myself. Leaving my mom for art.
I don’t even know if what I want is worthwhile. I’m the daughter of a teacher that’s taught at an underprivileged high school for longer than I’ve been alive. And I want to pursue art? I’ve always wanted to feel as though what I do has purpose, but I don’t even know where I stand today. I feel selfish for pursuing something as trivial as dead artists. I’ve been surrounded by some of the most pretentious people I’ve ever encountered in my art history major, repeated in the countless museum internship interviews that seemingly go well, only to be rejected by email the next day. I’ve felt miserable and it’s a mounting feeling of stress that only becomes more apparent with each realization that when I’m no longer a student in 10 weeks, nearly all further internship opportunities will evaporate. I feel an inexplicable need to leave and an equal need to stay, neither leaving me satisfied.
After a long month discovering Europe being tumblr-less, I am back! I can’t believe that my senior year of college has nearly begun. I’m already experiencing the stresses of my first apartment and the beastliness of money and sharing expenses. I just want to be back in England, blissfully ignorant of Westwood… but I’m hoping things will turn around. It’s my last quarter as a student, I want it to be an epic one. I’m not at all ready for the real world.