I've always wanted to be the kind of girl who writes in a journal. Cool journal-writing me would wear stylish hats and effortlessly fashionable outfits and chew on the end of my fun pen while writing in a beautiful fabric-covered journal, while sitting under a tree in some lush, out of the way park. After scrawling some poetic, sometimes funny, and always insightful musings on top quality paper, I would absent-mindedly stuff my journal into my over-sized boho bag strewn with stuff like indie lip gloss, home-made perfume and a vintage, first generation iPod.
Alas, I am not that girl. I've owned the occasional stylish hat, but I inevitably crush or lose them. I am too much of a wuss to sit in some out-of-the-way park, as I'm convinced that sitting alone in a park is tantamount to rape and death, no matter how lush it is. I do own many, many journals though, some of them fabric-covered, but most of them completely abandoned in various corners of my house with only 1 or 2 entries in them. Despite my best efforts, I've never kept up with a journal. Except once. 10 years ago, for a 6 month stint while I studied abroad in France. I recently found this journal in a box in my parents' garage, and was so excited to sit down and read the innermost thoughts of my 23 yr-old self, I brought it with me to Philly.
Oh, how I wish that I hadn't. Oh how I wish that I could travel back in time and punch my 23 yr-old self in the face. I filled every single page of this journal...cover to cover...not with eloquent portrayals of daily life in the picturesque Aix-en-Provence, where I was living. Oh no. Were there accounts of going to the local boulangerie for a fresh baguette, or the fromagerie for some stinky cheese or having countless laughs with my friends--all with wine-stained teeth? Nope. Every single page was about my boyfriend at the time.
Every. Single. Page.
What was he doing in Paris? (He was also studying abroad.) Why didn't he call me very much? Was he having feelings for one of the girls in his program? Why did he say that he didn't have enough money to come visit me in Provence, yet could afford to go to Amsterdam with his new friends? And why was he all of a sudden wearing scarves?
The entries whined on and on, and clearly I did not end up with this person, which was only partly why the trip down memory lane was so frustrating. Because even if I had, I would still look back at that journal with feelings of disappointment because I spent so much time thinking of what he was thinking and feeling and why, with no attention whatsoever on what was happening around me, or how I felt...about anything.
And although this outward-reflecting way of thinking is typical, and even considerate and appropriate at times, it really bothered me and got me thinking about how much I do it in all areas of my life. How many times have I been rejected--for a job, an apartment, a date, jury duty--and focused more on the rejection than on how I felt about the job, apartment, and date in the first place? Did I even want it? Was it even right for me? Probably not, but I would spend the next few days obsessing over why those things didn't want me.
Everyone does this. We've all watched various friends try to jam square pegs into round holes in different areas of life--their jobs, their boyfriends, families and more. I've spent countless hours with said friends on the phone dissecting and analyzing everything that can possibly be dissected or analyzed. What does this text message mean? Why do I think their love interest said this or why did he do that? Why is their boss behaving this way or that? Rarely, however, do our analyses extend to what my friend feels or wants or thinks. We just spend hours focusing on the other, making it virtually impossible for her to even identify what she actually wants in any way. These instances, despite being guilty of the very same things myself, make me want to shake my friend around and dunk her into a barrel of cold water a la Goldie Hawn in Overboard. (Buh buh buh buh buh)
And I'm no exception. I was once casually seeing a guy in college, who took a call from his ex-girlfriend while I was at his place. He went out to the porch and talked to her for an HOUR. AN HOUR. And I just sat there! I texted my friends, and we discussed his audacity, and what he was thinking, and what message he was trying to send me. First of all, the message was CLEAR. And although it pains me to invoke the 'he's just not that into you' cliche, it was certainly true. But what's even more terrible to consider, is that I wasn't that into HIM! In fact, I thought he sucked. He only ate pizza and candy and called random strangers names like Boss and Champ. So why did I sit there? Why didn't I just leave?
And I think I've come to the conclusion that rejection is a truly powerful thing. Perhaps more powerful than I've ever given it credit for. It can turn the most confident, secure person into a tentative, reluctant pessimist. Into a girl that stops trying for what she deserves. Once rejected, we focus so much on why we are rejected that we forget how we felt before the rejection. The party we didn't consider going to until we weren't invited. The boyfriend we wanted to dump, before he dumped us. Sometimes doing a 180 to get the affirmation we need--the boyfriend realizing his mistakes, or receiving the invitation that was 'lost in the mail,'--only to realize we still don't actually want to go, and that the relationship is indeed over.
And although I've certainly gotten much better about this as I've gotten older and more confident in who I am, it certainly still happens, and...well, no thanks. So perhaps I'll pick up one of my many empty journals and give it another go. Write about ME--who I am, what I want, and what I hope to achieve. Something that will buoy me up ten years from now, not make me cringe. Because although I'll never be the girl brave enough to sit in a park and rock my totally ironic iPod, I can certainly be the girl that doesn't let her hurt ego guide her in the wrong direction, or at the very least not obsess about it...in a journal or otherwise. Here's hoping the same for all of us.
See you in class!