Another Inspiration Monday prompt! Hope you all enjoy it.
The term was my topic for a creative writing assignment, my teacher had asked us to define and show what our topic meant to us through a creative approach. Whatever that meant. I tried hard to get a new topic, she told me I was stuck with it. Actually she even got mad when someone offered to trade with me. For some reason, she wanted us to stick with the ones she’d made us do. Too bad. The topic I’d been about to trade for was ‘fun’. That would have been easy. So I left school that day with a small snip of paper carrying two words scribbled on it. Two words that could change my life.
That report was awful. Plain and simple, it sucked. I turned it in two weeks later, got my passable grade that would please my parents enough to spare me the lecture, and forgot about it. Until one day, two years later, I saw the phrase: Future-proof.
My boyfriend and I were on the edge of a break-up—something about me being too guarded—my parents had split the month before, and I was flunking out of school. My life was living hell for the time being. I figured that was didn’t kill you makes you stronger right? In any case, I didn’t bother to feel sorry for myself. There were worse excuses for human life hanging around my school than me. In any case, at least I looked like I had it all put together.
I’ll be the first to admit, I had my bad days, days when nothing went right. One of those days changed my life because out of the blue I found that awful paper with its horrible topic: Future-proof. I moved to burn it, but at the last second I hesitated, I hadn’t understood what the topic meant at the time. But what could it mean now, to future-proof, not something as I originally thought, but someone, specifically me? The idea intrigued me so much I forgot to burn that stupid paper. Instead it made its way to the top of my pile of junk sitting on my desk and that night, I decided to future-proof my life and me.
And I did too. I broke up with my boyfriend the next day, ran away from my mom’s and got a job–as a waitress at Applebees–two weeks later. Of course running away meant quitting school, but that was fine. Why fight the inevitable? I figured. I was going to fail anyway so I was fine with just making it quicker, more painless. The first year was hard but I got by in my little one bedroom apartment. Loneliness set in, but I was okay with that too. I’d planned for it. Not to mention, if it meant that I wouldn’t get burned anymore I was okay with that. I had it going for me, I decided.
Still, thinking back, I no longer think that future-proof means the same thing for me as it did even on that night. Truthfully, I wish I hadn’t dumped my boyfriend the next day (even if we would have broken up anyway), I wish I hadn’t moved out of my mom’s house, and I wish I hadn’t decided to get a job instead of trying to not flunk high school. I future-proofed myself right out of the hard times by locking myself in a prison of excuses, loneliness and alcohol; so tight that none could touch me, none could hurt me. But the more I hid from the hurt, the more vivid the pain became.
So tonight when I saw the words, ‘future-proof’ I flashed back to another night, fifteen years ago, when the same phrase changed my life, and I decided it was time to stop being future proof.