Dear UA Readers,
I’m a 17-year-old girl going into her senior year in high school. How much more Work In Progress can you get?
Our August theme is for embracing the hot mess in us all. It’s for looking at our lives and laughing at them—looking at the dumb things we’ve done and experienced and finally turning them into the comedy bit they should be. Like how everybody says, “One day you’ll look back and laugh at this,” while you’re hysterically crying and having a breakdown—today is that day, my friends.
We (I) take things so seriously. We (I) freak out about every little thing. We (I) dwell over little things that happened months ago—like when we said “you too” to the waiter when he told us to enjoy our meal. Today, we’re turning that around.
This month we’re recognizing the fact that we are a Work In Progress. We aren’t perfect, we aren’t that cool, and we’re super embarrassing young adults. But hey! It builds character! I’m a hot mess. But honestly, so is everyone else; and it’s about time I look at all the humiliating things I’ve done and laughed rather than silently cringing at myself from years past.
I’ve heard a lot of people say that practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes progress. And I truly think that they’re right. It’s not just a sports saying or something—it’s life. Everyday we just practice. We practice being human. We practice being people. Like when Frances Ha says “I’m so embarrassed. I’m not a real person yet.” Does anyone ever feel like a real person? Or are we always just practicing to be?
There’s a song that I heard a few years ago that perfectly encompasses the “Work In Progress” feel. We’re all a little broken and we all sometimes need a new coat of paint. But we’re always moving and changing and progressing. We’re moving forward whether we’re crawling, walking, or sprinting. We’re actually doing pretty good if you ask me. And I think it’s time we just keep going, even if the end seems a very long way away.
“We’re On Our Way” - Radical Face
Show your hands
If you need a new coat of paint
If your bones are now heavy things
Like anchors hidden somewhere 'neath your skin
Or if your head's just an empty box
If your heart has become spare parts
If your days are now just something you must bear
Well, oh, it seems you're a lot like me
You dug yourself into places
You never thought you would be
But don't you fret, and don't you mind
The only constant is change
And you never know what you'll find
Yeah, tomorrow I might wake up nice and clean
And I might believe the things I said I didn't mean
And this might turn and wind up just the way we'd dreamed
And I might become the things I swore I'd always be
Well, we're always on our way
We're on our way
-Vivian Chambers, editor-in-chief
Work In Progress. When discussing August’s theme, I considered my own mental space. This is a transitional time in my life. As I enter my final year of high school, I have exactly one year left until I leave home. Until my parents are a phone call away rather than in the next room. Until I have to truly come into myself as an adult. Until the first stage ends and the next begins.
Work In Progress brings to mind Nothing Happens by Wallows, “Going To Be Wonderful” by Tom Rosenthal, “Turning Out” by AJR, “Holocene” by Bon Iver, and the moment in the bridge of Lorde’s “Still Sane” where she admits in a conversational whisper, “I’m not in the swing of things. But what I really mean is- not in the swing of things, yet.” That “yet” is important. It invokes a temporary ambiance, for growing up exists in bursts.
Work In Progress in colors is grey and yellow. Foggy and confusing at times, though ultimately rewarding.
Work In Progress reminds me of a few films.
The Edge of Seventeen (2016)
“You know, ever since we were little, I would get this feeling like... Like I'm floating outside of my body, looking down at myself... And I hate what I see... How I'm acting, the way I sound. And I don't know how to change it. And I'm so scared... That the feeling is never gonna go away.”
This quote by Nadine towards the end of the film when she apologizes to her older brother after a riotous relationship, always makes me Sentimental (pun intended). Especially in a world of professional “hustling” and the types of “Beautiful People” Ed Sheeran sings about in his new album, it can be frightening to compare one’s ideal self to their true self.
Frances Ha (2012)
“I’m so embarrassed. I’m not a real person yet.”
Since watching this film, I have understood what Frances meant by the previous statement. Are any of us real? The movies we watch, the books we read, the songs we listen to don’t really belong to us, do they? How special is it to love something everyone loves? How special can one be if their identity is dependent on external qualities and behaviors? Perhaps that is what makes a person real. Inner searches by outer means.
To be a Work In Progress is to embrace the fact that we are all on an individual journey, therefore, there is no wrong way to grow up. Because Work In Progress is a preliminary to Identity, I assert that it is also important to consider the purpose behind this thematic Progress. “Who are you?” is a rather mundane question no one can truly answer. I am posing the question “Who were you?” and how did your past identities lead you to where you are now? What are you growing out of- naturally or intentionally-, and what are you growing into? There is something to be said about the uniqueness of our individual Progress. Specifically, sometimes growing up means growing down; sometimes metaphorical paths take unexpected turns or detours.
To be a Work In Progress is to move on, to continue, to reflect, and to heal.
Human beings are constantly and forever undergoing reinvention. Last month, I asked you to share a bit of your heart with us. This month, I invite you to head to the Submit page and share your external experimentation. I would really love to know what identities or objectives you are working towards, why you are pursuing them, and ultimately, who you are becoming.