I’ve Lived a Life Full of Almosts

photo of a sunrise over a pond

In my life, many of my memories are filtered by the bittersweet hues of “almost.” For many of my days, “finally” was elusive as the wisp of a cloud on a bright summer day. From the tender moments of my youth, I’ve embarked on a surreal adventure of nearly-there’s and not-quite’s. 

I would skim the surface of greatness, only to watch it vanish like a mirage. I was the princess of the penultimate, the ruler of the runner-up, and the sovereign of the second best. In the grand pantheon of Life’s victories, I was ever the bridesmaid, never the bride. As I endured the dungeons of adolescence, I courted an ever more tantalizing waltz of almosts. I was the starving artist whose masterpiece was always just a keystroke shy of perfection before it all was laid to waste

In the world of academia, I basked in the warmth of the penumbra of brilliance, never quite stepping into the light. Rather than be a bridge to a wider world of lifelong learning and scholastic achievement, my higher education career was a procession of missed opportunities, narrow misses, and close calls. I pirouetted around the precipice of achievement, forever teetering on the edge of greatness, and never quite enjoying any significant triumph.

But, amid the swirling storm of almosts, there were moments, fleeting as the wings of a hummingbird, when “finally” would grace me with its presence. These rare, resplendent gems I treasure, as they formed the foundation for the works I still build upon to this day. They sparkle in the velvety nights of my life, testaments to the elusive power of perseverance and hope. In these ephemeral instants, I felt the warm embrace of success, as if the universe itself had finally plucked me from the shadows and placed me upon the dais of achievement just for a few minutes of fame.

These were the moments when I basked in the glow of an A-plus paper, my words painting a picture so vivid and complete that even the harshest critic couldn’t deny its artistry. They were the moments when I was recognized for poetic achievement, my heart swelling with pride as I was momentarily elevated from the ranks of the also-rans to the realm of the well-regarded. They were the moments when love, so often a flighty and fickle friend, would plant a tender kiss upon my cheek, whispering the sweetest secrets of affection.

But, like so many things in this whimsical world, these moments of “finally” were fleeting. Soon, I found myself once more immersed in the bittersweet sea of almosts. Yet, rather than despair about the near misses, I began to appreciate the elegance of the almost-was and the graces of the not-quite. It’s in these almosts that we truly find the poetry of life, as with all the ups there must necessarily be downs. If we never had the valleys and drops to humble us, we would end up climbing hills so steep we’d slide back down thanks to the inevitability of gravity.

On the risk of giving into quoting cliche, I must admit I’ve learned through hardscrabble struggles with misery as my best company that life is not a destination. Our lives are a breathtaking waltz between the almosts and the finallys, and we either learn how to conduct the orchestra of our emotions or allow ourselves to drown in discordant mediocrity. Though my own life may be awash in the pastels of almosts, I must recognize it as a work of art nonetheless; my own story should stand in evidence to the human spirit’s indomitable desire to strive, to reach, and to dream.

In this universe teeming with almosts, there is no shame in falling short; after all, to paraphrase another cliche, if you continue to reach for the moon, and fall shy, you’ll still be among the stars. Elusive as a butterfly fluttering just out of reach, “finally” may slip from our grasp time and again. Yet it’s in the graceful waltz of the “almosts” that we discover the authentic cadence of existence: a grand symphony of optimism, fortitude, and magnificence that echoes resoundingly throughout the ages.

Related: How Forever is Composed of Nows | What is True Success?

Amelia Desertsong is a former content marketing specialist turned essayist and creative nonfiction author. She writes articles on many niche hobbies and obscure curiosities, pretty much whatever tickles her fancy.
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