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The stars on my ceiling don’t glow anymore, but I don’t have the heart to remove them. Everything else—my clothes, the knick-knacks I’d collected over the years, my books—was packed in boxes around me. Stacked, labeled, ready to be transported to my new home. My own home.

Only the grey shag carpet, which I’d decided not to keep, was rolled on the floor. That’s where I laid now, watching those green stars and the crescent moon still standing, or rather sticking, strong after all of these years. My room had changed and grown with me, but the stars never came off.

I used to fall asleep late, way past my bedtime, watching them shine. Thinking about how far away the real stars were and daydreaming (or is it called nightdreaming if you do it after the sun sets?) about all sorts of lives. In my mind, I would fight pirates with a sword only I could yield, I’d sing the highest notes with my favorite artists, and solve crimes committed by my own parents.

Later in life, those nightdreams—that’s what I’m going to call them now—turned more serious. I’d visualize myself writing book after book. Aching to put all of those daydreams onto the page. I wanted to write love stories, adventures, mysteries. Everything and anything. 

I started writing when I was fifteen, midway through my sophomore year, when I realized that if I didn’t write down those adventures, they would continue to distract me during class until I failed so much I’d have to drop out of school. I started and never stopped, even when I wanted to.

And I really wanted to.

I have to admit: writing books seemed a lot more fun in my head. I guess we all have a bad habit of romanticizing the process. We think our life will play out as a montage while some upbeat, inspirational song plays behind us. And in three minutes—boom, we’re done. 

It’s actually a lot more grueling and longer than we anticipate. Even a little boring sometimes. 

I always thought that the day I’d start chasing my dream would be a special one. But the day I sat down to start writing my book was a day like any other. 

My siblings were screaming in the room next door, fighting with those swords they’d been obsessed with at the time. Dad was blasting his music, as always. The tv mamá was watching in the living room was loud because my dad’s music was loud. It was a hot day so I didn’t even want to light a candle, which I always thought would be an important part of the process.

I started writing. I wrote maybe five or six pages in one sitting, and I thought they were great. Genius, even. Pulitzer-worthy. After, I sat back, satisfied and proud of my work. 

When I sat in the same place the next day, I reread my work and started crying. It was terrible. The sentences were choppy. My dialogue was dull. My characters, cliché. I ripped up the pages and burned them.

But I sat down and tried again. And again. And again. And every day, the doubts in my head were rocks trying to weigh me down. They were chains keeping me in place. They were strong, but I was stronger. 

Until I wasn’t. 

Two months in, I decided it was too much. The problem wasn’t that I couldn’t write a book. I couldn’t write anything. So, I quit. It was impossible to write anything decent, be it a novel or a short story. I got into bed that night and cried again (as you can see, I’m a very emotional person). I dug my face into my pillow until there were no more tears left to spill.

I turned on my back and saw that the stars, still pasted on the ceiling but devoid of their light, were staring at me. Staring back, I breathed and breathed until I was calm.

I suddenly remembered how tiny I was in comparison to those stars. And when you remember that you are so small and the world is so big, you understand that nothing is impossible. Even if the odds are low, there’s always a chance.

1 in 400 trillion. Those are the odds of becoming a human being. Practically impossible. But we defied the low likelihood of being alive. Who’s to say we can’t continue to defy and do the (practically) impossible?

The carpet is soft against my arms, and I’m afraid to get up and leave. I’m afraid that if I leave this room and the stars above me, I will lose my bravery and courage and strength. The next time I give up, I will give in forever.

I feel as though I’m betraying the space where I began my journey. Where I’ve lived since I was five. Even though I’m twenty-five now, and most of my friends live alone or with a partner, I don’t want to say goodbye. 

People made fun of me for a long time. In high school, teachers told me I was dumb for choosing not to go to college. (Okay, they didn’t tell me that, but they might as well have!) But friends did. Ex-friends, I should say. Family kept asking me when I’d move out, when I was going to get a job, when I’d grow up. 

Sometimes I answered, as politely as I could, that I was a writer and I was doing serious work. Sometimes I walked away without responding. Sometimes I’d snap at them. Once I yelled, and mamá got very angry with me.

But it was all worth it, wasn’t it? Because even though I wrote bad short stories and entered contests I kept losing. Even though I wrote two failed novels and even more half-finished first drafts (and even a little fanfiction here and there), I did it. 

I wrote a book. I edited the book. Now the book is sitting on the shelves of big bookstores and indie ones and libraries, and I keep seeing them everywhere and it feels like a blessing. But I am still afraid.

The fear never ends, does it? There’s always something new to be scared of. Something to figure out and conquer. That’s a good thing because that’s what makes life so exciting. But sometimes, it’s good to just lie under the stars even if they’re not real. 

Because when you lie under the stars, the only thing you can think about is how nothing matters. Not even you. Even though you’re worthy as a human, you don’t really matter. It’s contradicting, but it makes sense, don’t you think? Maybe it’s just me.

You can learn so much by watching the stars. Did you know that a lot of the stars you see in the night sky are dead? Yet, their shine is still so bright you can see it from Earth.

We are stars. If the stars can burn even if they’re dead in the sky, we too can show our light. Even if it hurts to open our chests. Even if it’s scary. Even if it’s hard.

Like the stars, when you die, your shine doesn’t burn out. You leave traces of yourself in every life you touch, every room you enter, every space you set your feet upon. I didn’t mean to get morbid. Didn’t I tell you my head goes wherever it wants? Well, now you know.

What I’m trying to say is that I’ve left my trace in this room, under the stars. It’s time for me to leave, to leave more traces. But that doesn’t stop me from looking at the stars for just another moment. 

I realize that they, like me, mean nothing. I don’t need them. So I will keep losing myself in my nightdreams, without them, and I will never stop.

I can never stop.

July 23, 2020 21:19

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RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.