Thursday, February 26, 2004

This got me thinking: what does it mean to have an unhappy past?

Let me clarify: for the majority of my adult life, I've felt like (pardon my French) a fuck up. In the space of one year, at age eighteen, I went from straight-shooting golden child to that drunk girl at the party who should've left two hours and four beers ago. For the next few years, I carried this transformation round my neck like an albatross, approaching every new situation as the girl I never meant to be: flawed, fallible, and generally no good. I can't really say how much my diminished expectations of myself affected my behavior, but I do know that my expectation that I would spoil every good thing rarely proved false. Growing up is never easy, but its worse when you become someone that your 'real' self wouldn't like, never mind want to become.

Recovering from the shock of this metamorphosis has taken me . . . well, I'm still working on it. There's still the latent expectation in the back of my mind that my graduation - due, again, this spring, will never happen. That my papers, already more idea than actuality than they should be at this point, will never be finished. And that I will never be the woman I should have been.

But say I have finally cleared the mire of my early twenties, what then? For the longest time, when thinking of those times, I'd refer to myself (in my own private thoughts, never aloud) as 'the dead girl.' Dead, because she hopefully no longer existed, dead because at the time I was dead - dead to my senses, my own desires, dead to the larger scope of the life I should have wanted. The problem was, while this thought persisted, my 'dead years' expanded. Years I'd thought myself awake and alive became Dead Years in my memory, as my sense of who I would be further diverged from who I was and how I'd acted.

This is starting to sound horribly schizophrenic. I'm not the dead girl I was, nor am I the half-awake zombie who gave that girl her name. I am me. I was there the whole time. And growing up and moving on, I suppose, involves learning that I am the one who made those choices: the bad ones, the ill considered ones, and the ones I didn't even realize I was making at the time. But what are you gonna do? You live, you learn.

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