You are two years old and you can barely take two steps without falling over, even though everyone around you can. You can’t make sense of where you are or who is around you, even though you sense that in some way, it’s supposed to make sense. You often fall asleep in one place and wake up in another. But you’re okay. You’re going to grow up. Everything is going to be fine.
You’re eight years old and you are starting to discover there’s a hierarchy, even on the playground. You are not at the top. You read a lot of books, and you do everything your parents tell you to do. You’re starting to scrutinize yourself. The way your body looks, the way your voice sounds, the way you cannot run as fast as the other kids. You don’t know how to grow up. But you’re eight years old. There’s a world outside the playground, you just can’t see it yet. Everything is going to be fine.
You’re seventeen. You got accepted to the college you wanted, but your boyfriend got accepted to a different one. You’re starting to realize, for the first time in your life, that you’ll have to make choices that are not win-win. You’re going to have your heart in two places at once. Life isn’t simple or linear or easy to predict the way it used to be. Your heart is breaking and everyone is excited about the future. You’re not ready for the future. But it’s going to come, and it’s going to be better than you could have imagined. Everything is going to be fine.
You’re twenty-one and at your college graduation. You have a job lined up and a list of ambitions. But you’re not sure you can live up to your big, huge dreams and plans. You’re not sure you can make it outside of the place that made you the person you are, with the friends who have taken up the biggest spot in your heart for so many years. You’re not sure that there’s anything better out there. A better that you can’t imagine yet, because you are twenty-one and scared. But you won’t be forever. Everything is going to be fine.
You’re twenty-seven and falling behind in every way. You’re more lost than you ever thought possible. Your heart has invested in too many people who left. You don’t know if things will come together. You’re worried that you’re going to fade away into insignificance, but you won’t. Because you’re twenty-six and you’ve forgotten that being found means getting lost first. Which means you’re exactly where you ought to be. Everything is going to be fine.
You’re thirty-three and you’re supposed to know more by now. You’re supposed to understand how to make a relationship last, how to provide for other people, but you don’t know. You’re thirty-three years old and there are days where you still want to hug your mom and hear her tell you it will be okay. Except soon you’re going to be someone else’s mother, soon you’re going to be the one someone comes to for comfort, and you’re not sure that you’re up to the task. You’re not sure you will ever know enough. Except you will. Because you already know everything you need to. You just can’t see that yet. Everything is going to be fine.
You’re fifty and you’re not sure how the years have gone so fast. You’re worried that you’re stuck – on the path that you’ve chosen, on the life that you built. You’re fifty and you’ve watched too many people you love leave you. You’re not sure if the future belongs to you at all anymore, or if it’s only left for others. For the children taking their first steps, for the eight-year-olds playing on the playground. You’ve forgotten that you were once each of those people. That so many times felt like the end, but it wasn’t the end. It never is. Everything is going to be fine.
You’re eight-five and you can barely take two steps without falling over, even though everyone around you can. You’re eight-five and on some days you are twenty-one years old, with your college diploma in your hands and your hopes and dreams aligned. You’re eight-five and some days you are thirty-six years old watching your child take their first steps. You are eighty-five years old and you’re not entirely sure if your life is ending or beginning, but a part of you suspects that it’s both. You finally know that you are every version of yourself you’ve ever been. That there will still be versions you can’t see yet. Everything is going to be fine.