I Want This Quote Tattooed On My Body

“We don’t give other people credit for the same interior complexity we take for granted in ourselves, the same capacity for holding contradictory feelings in balance, for complexly alloyed affections, for bottomless generosity of heart and petty, capricious malice. We can’t believe that anyone would be unkind to us and still be genuinely fond of us, although we do it all the time. Years ago, a friend of mine had a dream about a strange invention; a staircase you could descend deep underground in which you heard recordings of all the things anyone had ever said about you, both good and bad. The catch was, you had to pass through all the worst things people had said before you could get to the highest compliments at the very bottom. There is no way I would ever make it more than two and a half steps down such a staircase. But I understand its terrible logic: if we want the rewards of being loved we have to submit to the mortifying ordeal of being known.” – Tim Kreider (READ THE ARTICLE TOO)

Yesterday I was in the mood to write a blog post so I could finally share some of the thoughts I have meant to flesh out recently, but after I procrastinated that for an hour, I came across a simple post on Instagram from a quote account I follow. I mostly follow it for its aesthetics, if I’m being completely honest. I like the gradients, the pretty colors, the font. But the post from yesterday, captured above, hit me so hard that everything I’ve been worried about for a while now suddenly connected into one giant problem that I now understand! That’s cool.

I’ve had a lot of trouble with friendships throughout my life, starting around middle school when I started to despise being alone (mostly because I thought everyone was hanging out without me). In high school it took a while but I found my people, or so I thought. And in college I tried to find my people, I might have found them, I don’t know, or so I thought. It seemed that everyone I tried to count on, or even counted on in the past, just let me down one small incident at a time that by the time I tried to bring up my grievances, they didn’t get it. I felt, and I still feel, like an irrelevant human being that doesn’t deserve friends. That is the biggest lie I believe about myself.

I don’t want to 100% put this on myself, because I know for a fact I have encountered some grade-A horrible human beings that for sure wronged me, but I think I project this feeling outward. I also have hyper-focused on it this summer to the point I stopped doing things I was supposed to do to improve the quality of my life, like clean my room or take a shower at a convenient time or write in my journal. All because I was convinced my life was boring because people weren’t knocking on my door to hang out with me. I was just waiting for them to do so, and I lost the whole point in the process. If you just live your life and focus on what you do have control of (yourself and your actions), people will come to you. Friendship isn’t a job; while it does take work, it’s supposed to be fun work that will benefit you and other people, like volunteering.

I remember freshman year towards the end of the year when I sat on a field eating a papaya by myself while I watched everyone around me play frisbee with their friends, listen to music with their friends, skateboard with their friends, study for finals with their friends. I’ve had so many moments like that; visible representations that I’m very, very alone. They all seemed to happen in college, but when they started to happen at home, the place where I am comfortable and can be myself, I noticed that it wasn’t college. It wasn’t being away from my home at all. If you tell yourself you don’t deserve friends, and after each friendship that fizzles out you blame it wholly on yourself, you aren’t going to make good friends. You’re going to get desperate. And I got desperate and gravitated towards people that sucked the life out of me. This also happened during an identity crisis, which I think I’m towards the end of! (or maybe my life is just one big identity crisis!)

That identity crisis is the crux of why I struggle to make friends. I used to think that no one wanted to be friends with me because I was confusing; I dressed seven different ways each week, I went to the gym for two weeks and then didn’t go for two months; I listened to Alvvays and Current Joys but also Travis Scott and NAV but also really, really like Sweet Home Alabama and Wagon Wheel and I could never not like The Doors because of my high school obsession and I also really like stuff on Soundcloud that sounds like you should be laying on a beach and just having a fun time and not caring about important world issues but I also just want to listen to one song on repeat for six years; I cut my hair, then regretted it, then didn’t, wore makeup every day and didn’t shower or the opposite. I was doing a million different things everyday. But that’s just who I am right now, and it shouldn’t confuse people, because we are all contradictory and complex. We are more than just dual, like my gemini sun sign says we are, we are multitudes, we are everything. I’m tired of feeling like I have to subscribe to one shell of a person just to fill this abstract idea of being liked. Because no one really likes me, and I don’t really like anyone. Why should I pretend?

This realization, while comforting, is also scary. It just reinforces the idea that I will never want to be in a relationship which is annoying because all my friends are in one or want to be one or are always talking to a guy. I don’t remember the last time I talked to a guy other than my dad. To be honest, I don’t care. I can say that with complete confidence. The only time I want a relationship is when I’m bored out of my mind and no one will hang out with me. When I’m at a concert, or singing by myself in the car on the way to work, or making a really fucking good sandwich, or talking about stuff I love, there is no lingering “I want a boyfriend” voice in my head. If there is in yours, I’m glad, because you’re listening to your wants and needs and I hope you find a boyfriend or girlfriend or someone in the near future that makes you happy. I remember when I really liked someone in high school and heard that voice when I was just living my life and I listened to it. But recently I’ve been making up these voices in my head that just don’t need to be there and I need to stop it, it just makes me drive myself crazy for absolutely no reason.

I want people to know that I am hard to grasp. I want myself to know I am hard to grasp. I change every day, all the time. And I hate that, I really do. I wish I had as concrete of an idea of who I am as I did others. But I think it would do me well to remember that nobody is just somebody, everybody is everyone. Everyone does dumb shit all the time, myself included. I will never be perfect and I will never please everyone and I will never be able to PR for myself or control my image. I think Instagram gives people the idea that we can do that, and maybe if you’re very constant and boring (which is a good thing, we need to destigmatize boring, I want to know what that’s like) it’s easy to get a cohesive idea of what people should think about you, but most people can’t. If you are one of those people, I encourage you to embrace the fact that you are imageless. No one can bottle you up and distribute you to others. Not able to be described; the ingredients change and may vary. The salad bar of life. You pay with cash and card and sometimes throw out pennies and your hands are sweaty and feet are cold, but your stomach is quite warm. Nothing is black and white! We have gray, but we also have apricot, and aquamarine, and pink. Because fuck the spectrum it does not exist. Remember that the color wheel was invented for a reason. WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE ALL OVER THE PLACE, if you feel that inside of your soul.

What I want myself and hopefully whoever reads this to take from life today is to forgive other people for being complicated. Imagine if everyone wasn’t complicated; yes, life would be so much easier, but everyone would be predictable. And while it’s nice to value consistency, consistency does NOT equal predictability. And adopting this idea will be hard, because where do we draw the line between people just being complicated and them treating you badly? It’s one of the things I think I will try to learn throughout my life, but will never fully understand. I think it’s something we can’t change but can learn to deal with.

With that, I am going to leave Cilantro in Guilford with my peach iced tea and go home to make avocado toast even though I just ate Doritos yesterday, and on the way there I am going to listen to country music, and I just emailed some girl from South Carolina about believing in God, and then I’m going to go to my high school job where everyone drinks Monster and smokes weed in the parking lot during breaks while I drink kombucha and eat a nectarine. Yeah I’m a ~contradiction~ people what are you gonna DO about it. I’m laughing at myself right now. Which is good. I’m going to start letting myself be known. Not just the good parts of me, but the bad parts too. And especially the things that don’t make sense. Because they don’t have to make sense! People don’t make sense. (That’s why I hate science sometimes because when it comes down to it everything is made of dust and I don’t know how we got feelings or fireworks or lemonade or stickers from dust) Have a great day everyone.

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Accidental Studying Abroad

It’s quite difficult to sum up one and a half years of my life into one post, one video, a playlist, or any form of media that I use to express myself. Half of me sees Burlington in a cold concrete, clear King-Krule’s-newest-album-blue way, in frigid temperatures and boring outfits and icicles hanging from every possible crevice, branch, and post. The other half remembers purple sunsets over multicolored mountains, thrift stores littered with drag, concerts every night, the cold-warm breeze on your face at the lake in late August. But what it really was is the mundane shit that I took for granted.

I really want a Sodexo bagel with strawberry cream cheese, or a chocolate croissant paired with Speeder and Earl’s hazelnut coffee, the corn tortillas from New World Tortilla, or the chicken and wild rice soup from the marketplace. I want to sit at my favorite study table overlooking the streams of students passing by merchants and club tables in the student center. I want to make myself a grilled cheese on Wednesday afternoons again, complete with the really fucking good local ingredients that we didn’t even have to pay for. I want to go to City Market and stare at the beauty products. I want to come home from work and talk to my roommate about everything that scares me. I want to ride the bus.

I am happy and sad that I didn’t know it was my last semester, or last week, even, at University of Vermont. Unlike studying abroad, I didn’t know when my time away would be up, which brings us to Amanda Thompson’s concept: accidental studying abroad. That’s what I did, I think. I mean, here I am going on and on about sunsets and dining hall food, it sounds like I went abroad for a few semesters or something and am being really overdramatic about it. I guess I didn’t really get a formal goodbye.

When I go back, it won’t even feel like my city anymore. No more walks to the bank, or ArtsRiot, or the waterfront. Walking into Monarch and the Milkweed or Outdoor Gear Exchange or the Lamp Shop will be what it is: just a visit. Not a part of my general routine. Not something I can shoot down the street to do on a Tuesday.

I guess I’ll find my Tuesday places here. Maybe it will be CVS. Maybe when it snows, the flakes will be so big and mesmerizing, and the sunset will be so purple that I can put on Sex Tourists by French Kicks and close my eyes and pretend I’m in Burlington. Maybe I can sit in the new museum, the one that I don’t know just yet, listening to Birds Don’t Sing by TV Girl and pretend that the edgy art students around me are just UVM students.

I wasn’t outdoorsy enough, I wasn’t weird enough, I wasn’t cool enough to fit in; all that stuff that rang through my mind constantly was bullshit. As much as I told myself all of that, it was still my city. I went to the farmer’s markets, whether it was with friends or by myself, and I went to the protests, and almost got a tattoo in the tattoo parlor, and I walked back from frat parties by myself at three AM, and hiked some mountains. I did the Burlington stuff. I did it all, and I didn’t even realize it.

I miss Waterman. I miss Lafayette. I miss Old Mill, especially the view of the lake from the fifth floor. I miss the ugly library, the gross Grundle, the gym that was way too far away from where I lived. I miss the one street that Champlain College had property on, it was just so beautiful. I miss slipping on ice going downhill and staining my jeans.

So yeah, I guess my thought now is “What was I thinking?”. But I know what I was thinking. I wasn’t thinking. I was feeling. I knew that I just needed to go. And it complicated stuff for sure, and I’m not even sure if I like UConn all that much yet. It isn’t UVM for sure, but I’m paying $30,000 less so that makes sense. I only have to do a little bit more of college here, and then it’s all over. And I can make it good.

If I was at UVM right now, I would be writing this alone eating mac and cheese. But I’m not alone right now and had a salad for lunch, so I guess that counts. Emotionally, I’m doing so much better here. I feel less depressed. Maybe a bit lonelier, but I think that will go away. Because I’m getting what I really wanted, which is a second chance at college.

Maybe a side effect of being me is always wanting to leave wherever I am. My mom says I just love to travel, but I just really like leaving. I didn’t cry leaving UVM. I really liked leaving, to be honest. I don’t know why, because now I look back and start crying. But in the end, leaving always brings some good into my life. It was like that with flying to D.C. for the first time. I want to feel like that more often.

Maybe I’ll never feel comfortable where I am, or secure in my friendships. Maybe that’s another side effect. I think I wouldn’t have figured it out if I hadn’t left.

Thank you to the city of Burlington and the institution of the University of Vermont for housing me for 1.5 years. I couldn’t have done it without my favorite political science professor, my shitty freshman year roommates, the girls I met in my public speaking class, the guys I liked for no reason because I was bored, my friends I semi-hated, or Brianna.

 

Eat more Annie’s mac and cheese, people

I had a very typical New Year’s Day: I woke up crying because I was insanely depressed, all I wanted was a bagel but my dad wouldn’t let me leave the house, so I grudgingly ate a hot dog instead and slept for the entire day.

Since my day was completely shit for the first few hours, I decided to just say fuck it and text all my friends from school that I was transferring to UConn because why not make everything worse? Then I changed my school on my Facebook about page to UConn. Then I listened to Lana Del Rey and cried more and fell asleep for the entire afternoon.

I woke up to a lot of well wishes and a lot of people that were sad that I was leaving. I seriously thought no one would care. Even the girl I was supposed to room with this year that completely avoided me the whole summer because she was transferring and didn’t bother to tell me liked my post. It’s kind of nice. I feel like I’m actually leaving something behind that is worth missing.

The senior in my Spanish class first semester freshman year even texted me. As soon as I saw her name pop up onto my phone I was so excited. She had transferred to UVM from University of Maryland for her sophomore year because as much as she didn’t mind Maryland and made a few friends, she didn’t feel herself there. She’s graduated now and lives her best life hopping from European country to European country and wearing cool scarves. It gives me hope.

I have no idea where my life is going to take me. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel comfortable or happy or consistent, but I really hope I do. I hope I ride more planes and eat more boxes of mac and cheese and smile at strangers walking down the street. I hope I walk into Walgreens and have conversations with the employees about their days because they actually do care about stuff like that. I hope that three years from now I’d have gone on a life changing trip to somewhere I’d love to live one day. I hope I show up to my five year high school reunion really overdressed and get drunk off of half a glass of wine.

Maybe it’s my fault, but everything in my life feels really unstable right now. All of my relationships with people seem really hopeless and I know that it’s just my negative, small thinking but someday soon I’ll get the bigger picture. I don’t know what to expect from anyone or anything. Absence of expectations scares the shit out of me because I always have expectations. I had expectations for New Years Eve that fell short. I ended up looking weird not wearing a bra with my dress, my makeup looked terrible because my cheeks were flushed, and I cried more often than I intended to.

A lot of times I say things that I know are overly dramatic or send texts knowing people won’t respond or care. I don’t know why. I don’t know why I over complicate my life. I don’t know why I constantly cry over dumb things like not being able to get a Cohen’s bagel. I don’t know why I can’t just reassure myself that everything will be okay. That not everyone loves me. That sometimes I’m just too much for people. And it’s fine.

I hope in 2018 I can stop living in my head. It seems like I don’t because I’m social and always wanting to be doing something, but so much goes on inside my head that I don’t ever talk about. Mostly because it’s hard to talk about this stuff, because a lot of people I know wouldn’t get it. But I do know people that would get it. I hope I feel endlessly inspired regardless of how uninspiring I think the world is.

I knew 2017 would be hard and it was and now it’s over. I can’t put a word to how 2018 is going to be but it is going to be just that. A lot of warmth. A lot of becoming an adult. A lot of doing what I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.

And I’m also going to pretend that January 1st doesn’t count. If today is any indication as to what 2018 will be like, it will just be filled with chocolate and sleeping in the middle of the day and eating pasta. Well maybe that isn’t so bad.

2018 Resolutions

  1. Maina, you have a 0.0 GPA right now. Please do not screw that up. Get over a 3.0 please.
  2. Spend money on your passions. Buy more paint, buy more used books, buy more pens when you run out of the ones you use for your journal. Buy more film cameras.
  3. You are already aware that you are special and beautiful and amazing, so stop trying to prove it to everyone else because they should already know.
  4. Make more mixtapes for your friends, and let them know you’re thinking of them often.
  5. Finally find some peace with your body. Go to the gym with Riley. At first you’re going to look dumb and fat but eventually you won’t.
  6. Improve the blog. Buy a domain name. Post bi-weekly. Whenever you’re thinking about boys or watching pointless youtube videos stop doing that and write a post.
  7. Make friends. Go up to random people and say hello. Pretend UConn is your senior year of high school. You run the place. Give people gum and compliment their shoes.