now, do you?
they were taking my picture for my University of Cambridge card and when i looked at it, the only thing i thought was:
- jesus, i look like a freshman!
and i really did. cute, but scared. unconfident, but naively open and expectant. what is there to expect?
loss of old habits? sure. quitting smoking since two weeks now (though i dare say that John Green's "looking for alaska" gives not much help there).
gain of new challenges? well, i'm loaded. bring it on. disappointed face. memories of school mocking and phd disasters coming right up.
youth associates with them like milk with coffee. or gin and tonic, for that matter.
so what about, let's say, feeling younger but armed? getting rid of old youth fears? cause, you know, you got wiser and stuff. you have failure experience. you start to recognise The Pattern - after sun come the clouds, after happiness comes depression. and after tears comes a smile. always. aren't these the goodies in your bag that gets heavier every year of your life?
well, turns out that changes really do make you younger. without the goodies. i feel a long-forgotten euphoria of a fresh start, a thrill of a new place and unknown streets and names and faces, that will colour my future brilliant. or disastrous. roller coaster without a life safety net, every day.
except that i am now in possession of A Filter. i'll explain.
see, i am not smoking but i take three double espressos every morning.
i am nice and friendly in my new lab and my cheeks hurt form smiling but i ignore the signs of missing empathy if i am not asked along.
i come to social events but i do not panic if i am having lunch by myself.
i work when i can but i do not feel guilty if i can't keep up to the schedule and have to go pick up my kid.
i smile when i managed but i still cry like a two-year old when i did not.
our fears do not really go anywhere. they are still there, good old friends - there is the one about being an albino among the normal black crows, there is the one of saying no, there is the fear of losing it, of not being smart enough, tough enough, funny enough, cute enough. i could go on. it is just that our age evolves new habits to cope, be it the caffeine or triple chocolate brownie, it is all the same. we quit the smoking but keep the alcohol. we stay partly scared.
we feel above the threshold of our evolved humiliation, through the sieve that is our age. it passes on some habits and some fears but leaves behind the debris we are done with, and it gets thicker every day until we are no more scared - or we are no more.
so, bring it on, i say. new life. same old, but this time - above the threshold of my fearless self.