Vemödalen: The Fear That Everything Has Already Been Done
Issue   |   Wed, 03/25/2015 - 00:01

It is often apparent to me that most people fear having nothing new to add to the world, of leaving an ordinary footprint. During my spring break, I stayed in the New York Loft Hostel in Brooklyn for about a week. Undeniably, New York City is a booming, living organism, and one grows sonder there, I believe, appreciating that everyone else has a story. Indeed, in an attempt to be unique, people spread out, trying to capture something personal — something that would distinguish them.

Riding the subway every day, I met many different people, yet some characteristics kept showing up — similar stories narrated. It should be a comfort to know that we are not so different, but is it really? I have always thought that every individual is distinct and that we all get to contribute to the world we inherited. Still, I worry, “Am I doing enough? Is it all worth it? Am I special?”

During my stay in the hostel, I roomed with a New Zealander, an Argentinian and an Englishman. It was quite remarkable to see how we all reasoned differently and how we all perceived America differently. Nevertheless, it prompted me to think: Do all New Zealanders think the same way? If not, is his perspective still unique? Is my opinion common in Egypt? These questions occupied my thoughts for days. As I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art with my Argentinian roommate, I grew gloomy, surrounded by many old and memorable sculptures. “Will I be able to make a difference?” I asked myself. I reminisced about the Egyptian revolution of January 2011, thinking, “Will there ever be justice and social equality? When will the reign of dictators end?” At night, I visited a friend who invited me to a poetry slam. Poets spoke of writers, revolutionaries, painters, scientists and prodigies. Then I thought, “What is there left to do?” If I were to do something, it would likely be a repetition of an activity someone else had already done. I felt overwhelmed by the questions doubting my successes and pinning me to an ordinary life, but then a thought alleviated my concerns.

Interestingly, I realized that we worry because we are aware of our freedom. Our ability to choose, to mold our future and to affect others’ lives, inculcates in us a sense of responsibility to act. No one can deny that who we are is the result of our choices. Although we may lead similar lives, it is the sequence of actions throughout one’s life that make it unique — even though there are seven billion other lives. In a way, we are all vulnerable to these moments of despair, moments in which life seems banal and unremarkable, especially after getting back to a rigorous college schedule after a week’s rest. Nevertheless, we must have the will to strive and not forget that, even though we may keep repeating the same jokes or take the same photos, our choices determine opportunities yet to be treasured. Every day affects the verse we are to contribute. And remember: Nothing is set in stone, not even who we are.