Expectations Among the Stars

The world is spinning.

I’m motionless.

I’m caught in a rift in time, watching in excruciating silence as people pass by, and I’m blocking them out, all of them.

It’s like I’m drowning, sinking deeper and deeper while a flurry of boats above me spread over the surface, masking the struggle of my submersion.

It’s like I’m holding a tall pile of papers, incapable of seeing around it as I climb uphill, afraid to lose a single important document because they contain my identity. But each step is worse than the last, and gradually, the wind pushes me back, sweeping away the precious papers.

Nobody else feels it. I’m just the quiet one, standing in the crowd with my hands shaking, because when I’m around people, I get chills. The cold seeps into my bones, and I’m losing control. I’m losing the part of me I feel I have when I’m alone. I’m losing myself.

In this world, I am a number—casually dismissed by wary eyes that scan over the lists of thousands. And yet, how can a number be weighed down by such heavy expectations?

“The top. Aim for nothing less.” These words resound in my soul, its echoes an endless reminder of the world I am to be pushed into, but with it, exists a fear. Assuming that I meet this expectation, what then? Perhaps, once I reach the top I will be tempted to look down and realize how close I really am to the ground. Perhaps the view of the mountain from ground level was more beautiful than the view of the world from the peak.

More frightening still is the idea that, at that peak, I will not be satisfied. The incessant voices of expectation urge me to be better than others, but the true competitors are not those who walk this path with me. We can race each other to the top, but success lies amongst the stars.

Yes, I am a number. Just one in more than seven billion people. Dismiss me with your eyes and mind. Expect of me the greatest. I will not fail to meet your expectations. Just know that when I have reached the top, free from the restraints of expectation, I shall be inclined to reach the stars.

Then, I will be one among hundreds of billions, and those blank eyes with which I was once so casually dismissed shall sparkle with admiration when they look up at the starry sky.

A.C. Mortale