A few days ago, I watched The First Wives Club and teared up as three women reconnected and took the world by storm, bound by the strength of their sisterhood. As I kept myself from full-out sobbing, I thought “That is what it’s going to be like when I’m middle-aged and I still talk to my sorority sisters. WE WILL BE THE FIRST WIVES CLUB” (you know, hopefully without the divorce and other traumas). So, feeling nostalgic and emotional, I decided to go to my university’s homecoming.
I parked at campus around 9:00 a.m. a couple days later and made my way to my sorority’s house. Familiarity washed over as I entered the side door and began hugging women who have pushed me to be the best version of myself over the years. We did the homecoming parade thing and the walking around our old stomping grounds thing, and soon it was the afternoon and I was more than ready to go.
In general, I consider myself an extroverted person. I even retake the Myers-Briggs test sometimes (or neurotically often) to confirm that I am still an ENFP (Did you know Sarah Michelle Gellar is an ENFP, too?!...And yes, I know that the Myers-Briggs test is not incredibly accurate but it’s FUN). I usually like being around people, and often draw energy from them. However, I am easily overwhelmed by large groups and crowded settings, and as quickly as I can feel rejuvenated from being with others, I can also feel completely drained. Being an extrovert with social anxiety is definitely a real and strange concept. For example, I love to have small groups of people over to my house, but going to an unfamiliar place or even the grocery store by myself makes my ears fill with water and the floor sway as I navigate around corners and breathing bodies that I’ve never seen before. When I do venture out to a public area and know that I still need the energy to drive home and go through the rest of my day, my time often has an expiration date.
When I want to go, I have to go, at risk of a anxiety attack or involuntary tears. After being reunited with my friends at homecoming, my expiration date had come. I was disappointed in myself, looking at all of the other alumni and active students covering campus in waves. Be normal, Jordan. I told myself. You don’t have to leave. Stay and have fun. Homecoming is once a year. Remember the bravery of The First Wives Club, dammit!
And so I stayed--for another five hours. I saw more friends, and did more activities, and was so ready to leave that my brain had become static and I was concerned I'd have trouble driving home. My housemate (a fellow alum), decided to ride back with me so the drive ended up being a little easier (I didn’t tell him how relieved I was to have him in the car with me).
After getting home, I felt like I had zero little health hearts left on my screen. I dragged myself up to bed, although it was around 6:00 pm, and slept. After sleeping, I laid awake, covered in my favorite, tattered comforter and staring at the wall. I was suffering for using after the expiration date. I was spoiled, no good anymore, and I’d have to pay for it.
But yet, I was proud. I hate to be the first person to leave when going out with friends, or constantly checking the clock at dinner waiting for an appropriate time to go home because my skin is buzzing and pulling me to the door. I have been trying to lengthen my expiration date, even if I have to slowly feel the weight of the consequences. I don’t want to curdle before I’m ready. I’m determined to change and become, well, a human version of an everlasting gobstopper.
Because with life, we don’t get to choose our expiration date. Okay, I know this sounds dark and existential, and well--it kinda is, but hang with me. I don’t want to spend whatever time I have on this earth by watching the clock and carefully planning my exit in order to keep from unraveling. If there is ever a time to try something new or complete your goals, it’s now. The present is the only opportunity we know we have for sure, while we are still sealed tightly. There are certain passions I wish to explore that I keep shelving in the back of my mind because “It isn’t the right time”, or “I’ll revisit it in a couple of months and try it then.” But guess what? Things go bad early. We feel like we have forever when really all we have is what we know and love right now.
I’m not encouraging anyone to sacrifice your health or mental well-being. We know what we can handle. But I’m going to push myself to lengthen my expiration date, to help practice and shape my mental capacity and willingness to accomplish my aspirations in life. I encourage anyone else who has unfinished goals to do the same. Think of what you really want, and go for it today, while you know that you can. We’re all fresh blocks of cheese in this metaphorical fridge of life, and I’m here for you, holding your little cheddar hands. Don’t let the light come on and off again without being one step closer to the person you want to be. Next time the door opens, be ready.