I was sitting in my literature class, reading poetry by Carol Ann Duffy. It was a Thursday morning, in early December 2012. My teacher was very religious. She was young, married, with no children. We started a conversation on college and I asked her where she’d send her own children one day, and she replied, ‘I don’t have to think that far…’ Already curious, I asked, ‘Why not?’ and in a very matter of fact tone she said ‘Well, the world would’ve ended long before that.’
For the longest time, especially during my early teens I had regarded myself to be a very strong person, with a sound mind, someone who wasn’t easily swayed by other peoples beliefs; little did i know my perception of myself was about to change, drastically.
After my teacher made that statement, i begged her to tell me more. So she spent the rest of the class explaining to me that the world was going to end in a matter of weeks and that there was nothing humankind could do about it. She continued to tell me that she had been expecting and preparing for this day for quite some time, and really, in short, she told me we were all going to die. I don’t know why or what made me believe her, but i took what she said and let my world fall apart. I’d cry, day and night for weeks. I’d watch my parents at dinner and try unsuccessfully to swallow the lump in my throat that grew as i tried to memorize the faces of the people I love.
I sat for hours on end with my laptop wedged between my thighs searching the internet for proof of this day. I found the Mayan calendar and read about the conspiracies about NASA’s findings. I even went to my geography teacher in search of answers; I found none. All i discovered were truths and lies and at the time, i didn’t know which was which. A week before the 21st, i developed palpitation and anxiety attacks. I couldn’t sleep, I had lost weight and I’d forgotten what it felt like to smile.
My friends made fun of me, not realizing the extent to which i was affected by the whole situation. I’d listen as they joked about the unending darkness, the lack of cellular communication, the devils that were going to reach into homes and the cold that was supposed to kill.
On the 20th of December it started to rain. I knew that December meant cold weather, but my logic had left me weeks ago and the fact that i hadn’t seen the sun in a while served as evidence for the end of the world.
Finally, on the 21st, i went outside and breathed. I was alive and the relief i felt was palpable. I was still a little apprehensive, skeptical that maybe this was just the calm before the storm. Gradually though i realized that the world wasn’t going to end that day and i waited for the feelings of fright to leave me. I stood waiting to feel weightless and happy again but it soon dawned on me that I was going to die, maybe not today or tomorrow but I am going to die. The people I love won’t live forever and neither will I. I’d never confronted, let alone thought about the entire concept and realism of death up until that day and the more i began to explore the idea of how temporary our lives are, the more afraid i became of life itself.
I walk around, tiptoeing, holding my breath, frightened to enjoy or love or experience life because i don’t want to get hooked onto ‘living’, because i don’t want to be tempted into ‘forever’. Its a horrible way to be alive but its the only way I know now. And a year later, i’m still waiting for the end of my world.