Two Steps Ahead

The clock of my life started ticking two months earlier than expected. My premature birth was the first sign of my natural impatience. Tick tock. I was the first to learn the alphabet in kindergarten. Tick tock. I was the one who always submitted the school assignments in advance. Tick tock. I got my driving license before everyone else. Tick tock. I started my university application two years before graduation. Tick tock. I have always been two steps ahead of time. Tick tock. Tick tock.

Red and blue footprints, painted on a pavement street, Brooklyn, United States. Photo by Lance Grandahl for Unsplash.

I used to hear the ticking sound all the time. Early in the morning and late at night. Was it a devilish clock that haunted my mind? Or, maybe a bomb that was to explode? It was
at the age of five when my hate-love relationship with time began. Instead of playing hide and seek with my friends, I used to play tag with time. And guess what? I was the one who always managed to escape. My big talent to overthink and even bigger desire to control the future made me unreachable.

People often say that in the eyes of a child, one can see the world as it should be. Well, I guess this universal saying isn’t necessarily true. What one could see in my innocent eyes was a distorted image of time. I was only three feet tall but I felt as if I had already outgrown kindergarten. The mandatory sleeping hours, the tedious coloring sessions and the extra energetic songs about Old McDonald and his farm weren’t really my thing. Instead of learning the numbers by heart, I wanted to solve problems with them. Playing Hangman was not enough, either. I wanted to put the words into long sentences and pour my impatience out on paper. As always, I was two steps ahead of the present moment. My youthful soul was craving new experiences. I couldn’t wait for my school journey to begin.

Colorful figures of racing people, painted on a black road with spray, Brooklyn, United States. Photo by Lance Grandahl for Unsplash.

At the age of seven
, I was finally free to dive into the sea of everyday classes and infinite homework. My hands were constantly covered in ink, my hair – always tightly braided, my eyes – full of curiosity and inexplicable bliss. As I was running down the school halls, I felt like a baby pigeon, flying for the very first time. My liberated mind was like a sponge, soaking up all kinds of new information. It took me just a month to turn adding and subtracting into my special powers. I could also read fluently and write sentences with both a subject and a verb. Sadly, my victorious flight didn’t last long enough. 

Once again, my natural impatience cut my wings and locked me up in the cage of time. I was quickly fed up with the constant dictations, spelling exercises and logic games. Even the cheerful ringing of the school bell couldn’t kill the ticking sound in my head.  I was two steps ahead and I couldn’t help it. I wanted to read hardcover books with small print and no images. I wanted to write philosophical essays on incomprehensible topics and learn the names of the muscles in the human body. I wanted to grow up so badly. And when I finally got everything I ever wanted, it was time to apply for university. Another exhausting wave of rushing and planning ahead followed. 

University was the final stage of my highly competitive race with time. Only four years were separating me from officially becoming an adult. I was eagerly attending every lecture, sitting for every exam and desperately applying for every internship opportunity. My body was fixed in the present moment but my mind was already in the future. Almost every single night I used to dream about the exact same thing, the sacred moment of my graduation. Everything seemed so real. The black square cap – flying high in the sky; my family – cheering loudly and clapping proudly; the president of the university - handing me my diploma; the priceless sign of the much desired adulthood – finally in my hands. My beautiful dream was interrupted more than once. Whether it was the annoying beeping of my alarm or my roommate, slamming the front door, there was always something to wake me up. However, nothing can really compare to the last interruption that scattered into pieces not only my dream, but also my whole life. The notification sound of a warning email.

Two young girls mark a start/finish line, using bright pink spray paint, Logan, United States. Photo by Aw Creative for Unsplash.

Caution: Global pandemic! Stay home!
  My sleepy eyes re-read the email caption several times in disbelief. In the blink of an eye the fatal news postponed my plans for the week, the month and the year ahead. My life was put on hold. The invisible enemy, better known as coronavirus, sent me back to my old room, closed the door and got rid of the key. The room was full of fluffy toys, old souvenirs and photos of childhood memories that I barely remembered. My favorite Mickey Mouse clock was ticking monotonously on the wall. I spent most of the lockdown, observing the infinite chase of the two hands. The more I stared at the clock, the more I could hear the judging voice of time, calling me from the winners’ podium. “Are you really two steps ahead?”

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The "Two Steps Ahead" article is part of the "Dare to Share" JMC competition, organized by AUBG Daily. The piece was written by the AUBG student, Yoana Blagova, who managed to secure the first place in the written pieces category. The aim of the competition is to expose the brilliant works of talented AUBG students and expand the realm of the university newspaper, AUBG Daily.

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