Saturday, March 25, 2017

Here It Goes, Here It Goes, Here It Goes Again

I found an old journal last week, written in initially as an 8 year old and then, once again, edited and foot-noted by a needlessly caustic 13 year old. You could almost hear the eye-rolling. She (13 year old me) couldn't fathom her (8 year old me's) boundless positivity and sincerity, and made sure to leave plenty of cutting comments. There was an also a healthy serving of swear words, likely because I'd just gotten accustomed to what they meant at the time and was enjoying the new flavor, turning them around on my tongue. I took up my own pen and, besides blocky enraged ballpoint and shaky ink scrawls, I wrote "calm down, love." So, I suppose that answers the common interview question of what I would tell my younger self.
Just calm down.

It's been a while, hasn't it? I wasn't really going to acknowledge the strange, 3 year absence - thought it might be best to ignore that particular elephant - but it seems that I can't write without at least a token "Hello again." So, hello again. I turned 19 this February. I'm just about to finish my freshmen year of college - a creative writing major, because that's bound to be lucrative - and have, despite what my 13 year old self may have believed, survived all of life up to this point. How are you?

In regards to my College Experience, I could regale you with stories of underage children drinking, doing drugs, the parties and late night drives. My weirdly cinematic and yet, somehow, anticlimatic first kiss (of my adulthood, that is. I suppose my 5-year old kissing sessions don't count.) The varied professors, classmates, upperclassmen and on-campus baristas who I've managed to charm, and how I've unwittingly been elected into a student office due to throwing some very well-received parties. But no, I won't. You've likely heard enough college stories to fill a very depressing, alcoholic book, and I think you deserve better than that.

An interesting realization: I have, by which means I dare not guess, become a sociable person. I am still, in many ways, an introvert who enjoys the pleasure of her own company, but some strange and unknowable metamorphosis has occurred in the past three years. I went from a sarcastic caterpillar to a social butterfly. This change has been even more evident since I arrived to college and, being exposed to a few hundred more people than I normally would be, I've become even more outgoing. Excusez mon fran├žais, mais ce que la baise?

(Oh, that's another thing. French. I'm enjoying it, though whether or not I'm proficient at it has yet to reveal itself. Que sera, sera, and all that.)

It's funny, but whenever people compliment my social skills, or conversational skills, or make some comparative remark about their own lack of extroverted confidence, I feel like an imposter. Me, an extrovert? I laugh. Oh no no no, I'm the most pessimistic introvert you've ever seen! I tell them. But in all honesty, I'm unsure if that's still true. As a moody 13 year old, it most certainly was. But I haven't been a moody, depressed 13 year old in a while now, and my grip on my identity is slipping through my fingers. I wonder if I'm really an imposter, or if this is merely what it means to grow up.

One way or another, my strange new social skills have allowed me to get on good terms with, well. Pretty much everyone I meet. There are very few exceptions - only 2 or 3 come to mind. I throw compliments like confetti in my wake and oh, to see the way people light up! The other night I attended my first frat party (an ill-advised experience, on all accounts) and as I went striding towards the exit, a flock of drunken girls in denim shorts shouted out "You look like a woman on a mission! You look fierce!" When I thanked them prettily and told them they all look gorgeous, the entire group shrieked as though they'd been shot. So, life tip to moody 13 year olds: learn how to give (and receive) compliments. Trust me.

However, some of my little tweenage eccentricities remain. I learned, as a newly-dubbed adolescent in my sister's very thin, very pretty shadow, that the easiest way to remain out of pictures was to always, always be the one who offered to take them. Hence, I have spent the last 7 or so years as a voyeur, always offering to take snapshots and declining gratefully, though emphatically, when invited to get in the picture. I take thousands of candids when I'm in groups - I do so prefer candid pictures to those that are posed. The former seems more organic to me - and, while my acquaintances delight at the pictures I take of them, very rarely am I photographed in turn. I don't mind.

Well - I didn't mind, at age 13. I took a certain vicious, masochistic pleasure in it, like pressing down on a bruise. Nowadays, I've grown past the majority of my conviction that I'm a hideous, horrible creature. While I'm willing to be photographed, it seems I have been too-long accustomed to hiding behind the lens, and fall into habits so easily. Thus, few pictures of me are out there.
I guess I don't mind. Just something to work on.

I'll ask again, now that we've come to the end of this stream of consciousness.
How are you?

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