Reflections on a Life Unlived

I sat down last night and, for the first time in a long while, I didn’t pick up a book or fiddle with my planner (to make myself feel as though I’m far more productive, busy, and important than I actually am). I just kind of sat there, eyes glazed over with the exhaustion that sometimes comes at the end of a day with Henry. And I thought, Hey. You. You haven’t written anything in a long while. Not even a book review. Not even a reflective idea.

And then I thought —  You haven’t even acknowledged your thoughts for a while.

Sadly, I had to admit, these revelations are accurate. I’ve always been fairly adept at deflecting inquiries as to how I’m really doing — I’m fine; I’m busy; I’m doing okay, no complaints here — so it should come as no surprise that I am not always entirely honest with myself. But still. Sometimes, I am surprised. Like, whoa — there’s that dark place again; how did we get here, Renee?

I’m not sure what’s changed, or what’s spurred the recent self-evaluations that have become so all-consuming in my world, but suddenly I am considering my self and my place daily. It’s an absentminded sort of pastime, admittedly; and I’ve deflected my realizations a bit so that they haven’t arrived fully at the forefront of my mind until just last evening. But here we are, in a place of wonderment where I have begun to ponder —

who are you?

what are you even doing with this solitary life of yours?


when you die, what the hell will you leave behind?

When I was ten, I could’ve told any old stranger, without hesitation, that by the time I was twenty-eight I’d be a novelist. People would be reading my stories and they would be smiling and laughing and crying at all the right places; they would be touched in their souls by these words that somehow evoked feelings they didn’t even know could be held in common with a complete stranger from some remote home in a state called Kansas.

I would be special. I’d be a writer. My name would be on the cover of a book, people would speak of my ideas, they would press copies of my work into their friends’ hands saying You have to read this really great book, it’s amazing —

I would be somebody.

But I am twenty-eight, and I am not a writer, and I am not an author, and I do not have an editor or a publisher, and I have not done



at all.

And all that I can think of is — how very disappointed ten-year-old me would be to discover this version of myself.

I don’t even have to imagine.

She is still within.

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