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I Didn’t Know It At Fifteen

You could have told me how different it all would be. I probably wouldn’t have believed you for a second. 
15. 
Limitless. 
Feeling like the whole world was at my fingertips, because at 15 that’s what we all think. 
I mean Taylor Swift wrote an entire song about all the things she didn’t know at fifteen. Maybe I should have paid more attention. But she wishes she could go back and tell herself what she knows now… but I wouldn’t have believed any of it. 
Because I was going to spend my early twenties rushing around, answering phone calls, dodging between jammed traffic trying to make sure my overly demanding boss had her morning coffee in hand prior to her meeting. I’d be filing papers, making copies, scheduling appointments, sifting through emails. I’d be a mess most likely, but hey, if you want the top job someday, you’ve got to struggle for a while. 
Then one day, I’d pitch an idea or be on some back burner waiting for my voice to be heard. Waiting for someone to glance my way and ask what I thought. Maybe it’d be for a new story for whatever magazine I was interning at. Maybe it’d be for a new way to have an open concept for the front entry area of whatever office building we were trying to win the bid for at some big name architecture firm. Maybe it’d be that moment when I was asked to assist in taking the lead on some new case. 
And suddenly, I’d be pitching more ideas. Maybe I’d be leading the meeting. Maybe I’d no longer be on coffee duty and the boss that used to scare me, would be grooming me to move up in the world. I’d have more freedom with my work. My ideas would become solutions and I’d have a job title that actually meant something. 
Then my name would be on a door. My own office. Maybe with a view. Maybe just with my own coffee maker. I’d be the one signing off on things. I’d be the one people went to with their problems. I’d be the one who needed that coffee before my big morning meeting. 
I would have believed that. I did believe that. It didn’t matter what field or how I ended up there. I believed that. Because, isn’t that how the world is supposed to work?
You work hard, you move up, you work harder, and you’ve got the life you’ve been working so long for. 
We’re filled with all these ideas. 
You want to be an architect? Great, go get your degree. Do your best work, stand out among your classmates by always being different in some way. Then you’ll find your job when you graduate. If you find the right firm and show them all you can do, you won’t have to worry about grad school, because they’ll cover costs for classes. And when you’ve been working their long enough, and finished grad school, it’ll be time for you to be working alongside the head architect so that one day, you can fill their shoes. 
But then life happens. 
No one sits back and thinks that the worst case scenario will happen to them. 
Yet, here I am. 
I used to have real dreams, and those dreams were achievable, they were lofty goals with goals in between to ensure that I ended up exactly where I was supposed to. 
But now those dreams are like shooting stars, which aren’t even stars. They’re just rocks hitting our atmosphere and burning up. 
You know what people don’t talk about when it comes to being sick and not knowing if you’ll ever be presented with some reasonable treatment that gives you even a fraction of your life back?

The fact that right now, your bad day at work, your condescending boss, your piles of paperwork that you can’t even begin to fathom how you’ll get through by that ever approaching deadline… is literally all I want. 
I would trade every second that I’m in pain to be in some crammed cubicle, avoiding my actual work because Janice two cubicles down just broke up with Bob on the 2nd floor and now we get to listen to her mope around for the next few weeks. 
I would trade every second to walk into the break room and find that we ran out of coffee and all that’s left is a half opened bag of decaf leftover from the 2014 Christmas party. 
I would trade everything for that awful 9 – 5 that you drag yourself to every morning. 
Because, you see, my 9 – 5 is a game of will it hurt to brush my hair this morning? And which essential oil combination might relax the growing tension enough to enjoy my cup of coffee and perhaps get through the day without ending up curled up in a ball unable to move? Will I need my medicine, or is a dark room and peace and quiet enough to keep the monster at bay? 
See at my 9 – 5, I’m my own boss. So when I call in sick you’d think everything would be okay. But, even as the blood vessels in my head hold my brain hostage, somewhere deep down, there’s this part of me that doesn’t know I’m sick. And that part reminds me of all the things I should be doing. That job I should be going to. The school I should be attending. The friends I shouldn’t have abandoned. 
There is no acceptance here. Yeah I’ve accepted the pain, but I haven’t accepted that this is who I’m always going to be. I hope I never do. 
Suddenly she realized that what she was regretting was not the lost past but the lost future, not what had not been but what would never be. ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald
A. 

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