The best compliment I’ve gotten is that I seem to have a zest for life. I do! I’m really lucky that I got the life I did. I enjoyed high school, for reference. It hasn’t been so good that I’m ready for it to be over, but good enough that if it were to end right now, I wouldn’t be that mad. Well. Depending on how I went, I guess. This is turning morbid. I’m good. But we should discuss.

Life is full of beautiful, terrifying promise. Why aren’t we talking about how terrifying it is to be alive? How quickly things change, how we’re all pretending to stay true to the course, how there is no course. How every day is a huge blessing and also kind of a nightmare. 

I was thinking recently about how if I could go back, I’m not sure that I would’ve studied journalism in undergrad. But I took a newspaper class in high school that I loved so much, it inspired me to study journalism. And studying journalism led me to an internship that I didn’t love, but a mentor who encouraged me to explore other avenues at the same company, which ultimately led me here, to New York. Home.

The t-shirts make some points. I <3 NY. I spent the first 22 years of my life in a bubble that feels like it’s finally popped. I have a bodega guy. I can navigate the subway solo (ok fine. Sometimes with the silent help of Google maps but stilllll). I’m surrounded by an ever-growing squad of dynamic, inspiring people. A year ago, I couldn’t have pictured this life, and it’s all because I took a newspaper class in high school that I loved.

I’m not here to claim assurance of my path, but to acknowledge my lack of control. I credit the butterfly effect, the idea that small changes in initial conditions inspire massive and unpredictable variations down the line. A series of minor decisions conspired to nurture my current reality, and probably yours too. Think about where you are right now. Trace it back. Did you follow a clear path? Or did a metaphorical butterfly flap its wings in your direction, inspiring the tornado that is your life? 

It’s beautiful, it’s terrifying, and it isn’t all good. My job is hard. I don’t have a closet. My friends love to play Catan and I’m really bad at it.  I eat a frozen TJ’s vegan tikka masala at least twice a week (which, on second thought, I don’t actually mind). It’s dark when I leave and it’s dark when I get home. My favorite running trail closed for construction. 

There have been days that I’ve felt my zest start to fade. On a personal (and daylight savings-inspired) note, I think I’m currently in one of my life’s darkest periods. But despite spending the last couple of weeks brooding in the depths of my uncertainty, I can’t seem to overlook all these little things. The very essence of my zest.

Blue gatorade. Maroon acrylic nails. The security guard who lulls, “get home safe, baby.” The tree outside my window that glows when my shade snaps up in the morning. Mornings when my shade doesn’t snap up, but rolls up gently. Molly. Azraa. Molly and Azraa in the city on the same weekend. Finally getting warm after being really cold. The Trader Joe’s cashier who wouldn’t charge me for my bags. Laughing so hard that my eyes feel swollen. A really nice lamp. My genius niece. A Tate’s cookies restock in the work pantry. Surprise phone calls from my dad. The guy at the gym who won’t rest until I sign up for a personal training session. The knowledge that I’m never doing that. Coming home to a package. Curry puffs at Top Thai. Mohammad’s presence in the sibling group chat. A balance sheet that balances. Needlessly topping off the text with a hahah. My drunk neighbor asking about God in the elevator. She’ll be Muslim soon I think. Sunday long runs. Bachelorette Wednesday’s.

This life wasn’t meant to be easy, but it wasn’t all meant to be hard. I plan to zest for it forever.

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