I am in a place now where my shoes sometimes feel too big for my own feet and my jacket — that expensive double-lined jacket I wanted so bad that I spent way more than I should have on it — feels scratchy and itchy against the nape of my neck, but I smile.
I smile, because that’s what adults do, right? They suck it up, take everything in their stride and own it, because you have everything in order, everything taken care of.
Most days I make it, holding that smile, cocking my head just the right way when listening to someone’s banter and laughing just the right pitch at someone else’s joke before I make it home and feel like a farce the moment the jacket and shoes come off. Other days, I don’t get so lucky and at night, my mind splinters at the edges and it takes everything that I can muster to gather them and hold them together while they slice and cut their way through my fingers, threatening to fall apart.
It’s an enigma even to myself being here at this state line between two warring nations of my mind. I feel like I’ve lost my passport at this immigration gate so I am in a constant limbo. Right this instant I am neither here nor there. Belonging to neither. Stateless. And that panic that follows if indeed you’ve lost your passport is swallowing me whole.
A part of me feels proud of how far I’ve come because in all honesty, I don’t think I’m doing too bad. However there’s always another part that is never too far behind. That one screams, shouts, scratches and spats at how much more I’ve not done. It scathingly reminds me on the constant what else I’ve not achieved.
I find myself revisiting all too frequently that night when I was 18 when I got the news I won the scholarship to my bachelor’s degree. I was able to believe then that I could do anything and achieve everything and I smiled non-stop that evening. I smiled non-stop and genuinely. What a far cry eight years on finds me, with doubts tugging at every corner of my conscience and it is irritatingly wearing out my veil of confidence thin.
I am terrified people will find out how it is all a lie; a pretend mask I put on hoping the world will buy my lie and be convinced I am not scared, uncertain and just hoping for the best most times. It is easy to disguise it, with the right jacket, the right shoes, the right smile. But will it be enough?
I hope I find my passport soon.