Linear (As If You Have A Say)

By Tenley Thompson, TIWP Student

Some people are afraid of being forgotten.

They make it so obvious, disguising their uncertainty with loud opinions and passionate everyday missions. No one calls them out on it, because charisma is catching and we all half wish we could play the part with more than our own paper-thin confidence. That drive comes from people that write themselves into history because abandonment reeks like failure, and time will pass right over you if you don’t take it by the reins and guide it yourself.

The existentialism of all these unrealized terrors is familiar; we’ve all felt the encroaching doom of being cut off halfway and not having the time to start again, fading away until we’re nothing more than ghosts. But being remembered is an opposite nightmare, an addictive disease. Strangers will falsify half-truths, holding fractional ideas of you from reputation alone. How can you possibly precede yourself?

I exist in so many ways. I’m different in each person’s mind, their memories cherry-picked, curated. Memory is an open invitation to judge all that’s laid bare before you, and vulnerability isn’t something society does well. My yearbook photos are proof of the imperfections, smile shakily bright then and still now, fearful of the changes I’ve collected, captured forever in glossy print. It tastes bitter to see the hesitation in expressing myself when I’m still unsure of the choices that define my small sixteen years. I’ve left pieces of myself in this place: my patterns of speech reflected in group texts; my friend’s favorite candy, taken from my own; my grades and records stored in a database somewhere. These things are excusable, temporal parts of my life, and the future looms ahead, just one reality away.

Everyone’s just a blip, barely a breath in geological time. That consistent impermanence is predictable, but change stings like an unknown injury, the emerging scar quietly aching. Maybe I’m not afraid of being forgotten but of never having existed at all.

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