That’s how old I am.
I’m sitting on a bus currently, on my way north, brand new to traveling on my own. I recently put my first book up for pre-order, a thing I’ve been aspiring to do for as long as I can remember. I am thinking of all the novels I started and didn’t finish throughout the years.
My earliest memory being when I was in elementary school, I remember writing a story with pencil in this tiny little notebook I bought from Target. I remember telling a kid in front of me in line on the way back from recess that I was going to write a book and it was going to get published.
There was an air of innocence to me, stars in my eyes that have been stripped away as years, and drafts, have gone by. I’m not old by any means, but I feel like a part of me feels like a vintage photograph, one that has faded colors and crinkles from being folded and unfolded. I think of who I was ten years ago, I remember my dreams and my visions of the world and I almost want to grab my younger self, hold her and protect her from her own life.
She might’ve been the most optimistic human you could’ve met and although I’m still generally a positive person, a part of me doesn’t trust when things get too good, I’ve become someone who always has an eye open waiting for the next bad thing even though I know that’s an awful way to live.
I really savor every good moment and live with the knowledge that good times temporary and won’t last which may sound sane but there’s something so magical in believing in happy endings and I feel like life has slowly stripped that from me.
I’ve hit shuffle on all my saved songs on Spotify and You Belong with Me just played, letting another wave of nostalgia wash over me. I remember being in my purple graphic tee, choreographing a dance to this bop with one of my cousins and forcing my dad to sit down and watch us in the living room even though he had come exhausted from work.
I remember recording a radio show with her when I figured out how to use the microphone on my computer and burning it onto a disk. I remember making a game show with my family’s digital camera and my little brother. I remember creating powerpoints for fun on different topics I wanted to research. I was such a creative kid and I really created without any purpose, simply because it was fun. I sang because I wanted to and drew for the same reason.
Growing up is weird, I think such a big part of me has tried to find purpose in everything I create, as doing things without purpose is essentially wasting time, that I’ve begun to lose my creative spirit almost entirely.
I spent high school in the TV/Film club creating short films that I’d do anything to go back to making. I spent summers covered in paint and pastels, two things I stopped touching almost completely despite the peace they continue to bring me. My margins were always filled with doodles, a habit I learned to suppress in favor of having cleaner notes. Freshman year of college was monumental in how I connected with other people but a part of me feels I completely lost touch with myself. I lost touch with the rush I get finishing art projects or performing in front of others.
I started writing on this blog when it occurred to me that I had stopped writing entirely, a thing I had made a point to regularly do since I was about thirteen. I used to write a book blog in my free time and I had fearlessly pursued what I was passionate about. I had the mind of the little girl who had announced her book in line at recess. This blog was probably the best thing to have happened to me in terms of creativity.
But I still feel my creations being so different from what they used to be.
My first short film was about a girl that commits suicide, years before I almost became that girl myself. I reviewed ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ on my little blog, talked about how scary being sick would be and spent the next few years in and out of hospitals myself. I read my old writing and there’s this naïve spirit behind every sentence, and maybe my positive demeanor hides it but that naïve girl is almost completely gone now.
Between sexual abuse, emotional manipulation, near death experiences, mental health problems, I look back at myself with completely different eyes. I still have the same freckle in my right eye but that eye has seen so much that younger me would’ve never guessed. I could’ve never guessed where life was going to take me, I never would’ve thought I’d see so much before I’d turn twenty.
It’s a bittersweet sadness looking back, do I wish I had a more ‘normal’ childhood? Sort of. But would I have grown how I have with the average sheltered suburban experience? Probably not. Am I proud of the woman I’ve become or sad at my reality? I can’t answer that.
I’m proud of myself for remaining empathetic and caring about people even though it’d be so much easier not to. I’m proud of myself for many things but I still can’t confidently say I’m proud of who I am. Maybe a part of me sees my mental illnesses as weakness and a part of me feels broken even though my head knows that’s not true. Maybe I just thought I’d be stronger and I just can’t seem to live up to my own unrealistic expectations. I’m definitely trying but it’s weird.
I feel like I’m a kid trying to figure it out while simultaneously being a grandmother who has seen too much. I feel frustrated for relying so heavily on my parents yet too heavy to not. I feel like a very big contradiction, waiting for some English major to come tear me apart and leave me in shambles, it’d be about time.
Emotions are strange things, I’m proud of myself for sharing them on the internet even though talking is sometimes the hardest thing to do. I’m not really sure what the point of this blog post was besides the fact that I’m getting older and it’s weird and I want time to slow down so I can catch up and become the woman I want to be.
Before I go, here’s a shameless plug to check out my book, my heart and my soul and the message to the girl at recess saying I made it.