Tuesday, February 7, 2012

On "Being": The Girl With The Most Cake

"What do you want to be?" Pens scratching, inquisitive face, the interviewer asks me. Forks slicing food, relative tongues pinpointing the image of you, swallowing their dinner. College recruiters, strangers, publications, advertising - What do you want to be?

If you had asked me when I was 10, 14, or even 18, I would've told you I wanted to be a writer. I pushed towards every publication I could find, I hunted down college fairs for the right creative writing school, I edited essays over and over in my spare time, attended poetry coffeehouses and seminars, and I wanted nothing more than words.

Somewhere along the line, I got distracted - which is to say, I had to stop "wanting to be." I had to want to survive, and whatever it entailed to survive was what I wanted to be. Distracted, I'd tell therapists "I don't know," I'd tell them I could only safely plan 6 months into the future max, even more safer: 4 months or less. I'd have panic attacks upon staying in one town for too long. I didn't trust a good day (surely the sinister ending would come). I'd put words on paper, I'd road trip, I'd push through college, I'd find a job, I'd struggle (and still do struggle) with financial security. I interchanged pills and specialists and those who projected onto me all their ideas of my potential.

Tongue in cheek, I'll now say "I'm working towards my PhD in psychology" I think.

I didn't mean to end up here - I remember in high school when I said I'd never enter the field of psychology/social work/human services, declaring I was too fucked up to help anyone else safely, petrified of hurting others in the process of my own healing. I remember when I was in elementary school and the biggest career preoccupation I had was with singing, soon enough squashed by the concept that I wasn't "good enough," that I couldn't hack the competition. I needed the safety of knowing I was good at something. I needed the safety of knowing I had a talent I could survive with... Notably, this is a dangerous concept to toy with: which of your talents, your traits, can you you really depend on to help you survive off of - would it be anything you could directly market anyway? Couldn't you argue its intuition and knowing yourself, working hard?

I shut all those switches off: I saw bills and grades and what I should be doing and a lot of netflix movies in order to shut off the panicked static of not knowing who I was or where I was or what I was doing anymore, moving in the persistent direction of "reaction, reaction, reaction," which to some people looked like intense action towards a determined destination. I'm working towards my PhD in psychology, I say tongue in cheek.

What did I always want to be? I wanted to be bigger than my surroundings, unforgettable - I wanted to be everything all at once, and I didn't want to stop. I wanted to be faster and stronger and multi-talented. I wanted to be independent and apart - I wanted to show the strength of my character through the diverse nature of my interests, through the thick line of my adapting to crises - I wanted to make chaos beautiful, I wanted to put my stressed worn-thin conflicted artistic identity out into every venue which ended up catching my interest. I wanted to be so in the thick of it that you could not tear me down even if you tried.

People could say I've lost my vision. I sense a lot of people are disappointed in my life path, the direction of my wandering. Most people who know me or meet me still believe my strength is in writing, that I'm the writer, that I should be pursuing writing - and I don't argue with these sentiments. I do, however, want to be more than these sentiments (while simultaneously acknowledging how hefty a task it is to be an accomplished, respectable fierce writer). I want to be more, I always wanted to be more - like Courtney Love, I want(ed) to be the girl with the most cake. I was demanding, I am demanding - and I believe I spent the majority of the last few years so stressed about reading, writing, and doing all the things I used to do out of great fear I could not keep up with my own expectations and would inevitably disappoint myself or others, or moreso that I could do more than I would even think of, that I could do so much I would inevitably overwhelm myself. I know most people know of me as a workaholic, and frequently, my solution to my desire to be multi-talented, faster, and stronger is to work extra hours and deprive myself of sleep while ironically acknowledging (and incredibly failing at) this concept of radical self-care.

In currently reading this memoir called "Manic" and thinking of conversations with therapists and late night google scrolling, what stood out most to me was this concept of mania - the sudden mood shift and frenzy of doing things, the fast talking and the compulsive need to do things and exert energy and be everywhere at else, the unceasingenergypulsingdesperateneed to avoid sleep. I think of how many nights have fallen upon me like this, I think of my general energy, my identity - how, even in my worst depressions, I could not stop wanting to be, always interested in being _________.

As I shift my studies in Goddard College to the concept of identity construction, I know I must bunker down and study my own beginnings, my desires, my foundational concepts that keep me running. I want to be the girl with the most cake: I want to be a body whole, I want to be a mind furnished, I want to be the personality that does not go away, I want to be the books that influenced me, I want to be the people I admire and the people I regret losing, I want to be the idols I never met and the person I charted out and changed all throughout my life, I want to be that force that blurs the lines and forces you to acknowledge the truths of being, labels aside; I want to be all my years of learning, and I want to be relentless in my learning the value of these years, and then some.

I like to think of Fiona Apple, churning the anthem "Here it comes, the better version of me." Tongue in cheek, vague smirk, but no, really:

I want to be an extraordinary machine.

No comments:

Post a Comment