The R-Monster

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You can hide from it all you want, but sooner or later, the R-Monster will catch up to you. Taken at Guillermo del Toro’s “At Home With Monsters” at the LACMA.

FROM THE DESK OF: Nina

This past weekend, I had a chance to check out Guillermo del Toro’s “At Home with Monsters” exhibit at the LACMA. There were giant Frankenstein heads hanging on the wall, statues of fantastical fawn creatures greeting me at the entrance, old (looking) paintings of creepy old ladies staring at me from every angle, oddities left and right… overall, things were downright creepy in there. But amidst all of the weirdness, I couldn’t help but realize that what scared me the most about the entire thing was the fact that the scariest monster of them all wasn’t even in that room. No sirree, this monster isn’t visible to the naked eye; it’s one sort of creeps up on you over the years, and no matter how much you’re able to evade it when you’re younger, it eventually catches up to you until you find yourself staring at it point-blank in the face.

That monster is a little something I like to call Responsibility.

Responsibility, or the R-Monster, as I’ll call her* here, is a funny creature that’s been clowning me ever since I stepped into my twenties.

*I realize Responsibility is neither a he nor a she, but rather an it… but for the purpose of this post, I shall use female pronouns to describe her. It. Whatever.

In college, she pulled me away from my family and threw me into a pool of brainiacs while she watched me flounder amidst a sea of overachievers and high school valedictorians. After she realized my survival skills kicked in and I learned how to avoid sinking and start swimming, she left me alone for awhile.

In my post-college years, R dragged me into the realm of “pretend adulthood”, where she forced me to find a job, pay off my student loans, get an apartment, and figure out who I was as my own person, away from my family. I think if she had her way, she would’ve also pushed me into the crossroads of career-change and forced me to choose a path of practical career advancement; but somehow the shield of youth and “fun” protected me from that challenge, and I found a way to evade the Big R once again.

See, all of that was fine and dandy for awhile; but here I am, in my mid-twenties and approaching the upper end of this decade, and now I’m finding the R-Monster is getting a little bit restless. Much to my chagrin, I think R’s starting to get to know me better. She has this uncanny way of detecting moments when I realize it’s time to acknowledge her existence (“Wait, now I actually have to consider long-term consequences for my actions when making decisions? What do you mean I won’t always have a grown-up to ask what the right decision is? Oh wait, I am the grown-up?!”). With every friend that gets engaged and asks for support; every colleague that finishes grad school and challenges me to progress in my own life; every elder relative that reveals that they don’t know the answers to everything; R is right there, glaring me in the face, asking me: “What are you gonna do about it, Nina? When are you gonna let me into your life? You can’t ignore me forever!”

But you know what’s funny? As I grow a little older each day, I’m beginning to appreciate Responsibility a little more. Like a little girl who overcomes her irrational fear of horror movie covers at the neighborhood Hollywood Video (no joke, that was a real fear I had… I mean, what? Did I say that?), I’ve started realizing that what lies beneath the R-Monster’s intimidating exterior may be much more depth and light than I thought. There’s a certain type of strength hidden in there: a love that pushes me to grow and work towards a selfless kind of greatness.

So sure, Responsibility is one scary beast. Sure, she makes me wanna run and cry home to my mommy sometimes. But maybe that’s just what I need to guide me into the next phase of my life.

Maybe that’s the just a monster I’ll always need to feel at home with.

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