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When “Home” Is Not The Sweetest

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“If we know ourselves, we’re always home, anywhere.”

I’ve been dying to write lately—thinking about it constantly from the minute I wake up, throughout the rest of the day, and then intensely again at night once the workday is over. I find that it’s in these periods, when I want to write so damn badly, that I can’t seem to write anything at all: the ideas simply don’t come, or, when they do, they feel stale/boring/unworthy of any attention. It very much taps into my perfectionism—the constant sense that nothing is worth doing if it is not AMAZING.

But I try—am trying this very minute—to write through that, and to just allow myself to write a post that has no obvious through-line, no easy title that succinctly sums up what it’s all about. There are so many things on my mind, despite this writer’s block, and I wonder if spilling them out in this messy way might help wipe the slate clean…allow me to start heading back towards clarity and structure with my ideas and words.

I chose that quote above because it relates a lot of what’s going through my head lately, much of which revolves around accepting certain things about myself rather than forcefully trying to change them for the sake of others (or, often, for the sake of the bully in my own head). This is not across the board, of course, and there are many personal changes worth making, but as with most things it’s important to find a balance.

For instance? I’ve stopped trying to maintain an interest in late nights out that feel more collegiate than careerist—nights that often feel vapid, disappointing…giant energy-suckers whose continued appeal to many my age I do not understand. I’m working on feeling less guilty for not wanting to be a part of that, and for always leaving early when those nights begin. I’m not not fun, that is just no longer my version of fun.

I’ve also been thinking, with a solid amount of panic, about my body and food and the decreased energy I have to devote purely to keeping that body “in line.” Having less time due to work has definitely been one impetus here, but another, randomly, is the Lena Dunham book craze. I’ve been reading so many interviews with her, thinking about how much I admire her, and how twisted that admiration actually is—I admire her for doing something I can’t do (which is: just be) and for the fact that she doesn’t restrain herself in the ways that are so accustomed to me. It makes me feel like a fraudulent feminist, which isn’t really even a concept I believe in—I don’t think anyone is wholly “feminist,” we’re all walking contradictions, though some more subtly than others. I find myself seriously wondering: why is it okay for her to be that way, but not you, Jessica? Why is it okay for other women to eat all the cheeses, to indulge in the cakes, to skip a workout, but not you? What have you done to deserve this? Of course the answer is nothing. And I’m stuck with these questions—really stuck—because while they float around in my head, I still struggle to change certain behaviors. I can be more lenient, and in moments, I am, but those moments are loaded with fear.

I trace whatever emotional funks I experience to realities like these—the fact that I am not, for lack of a less-cloying descriptor, entirely at one with myself…at peace. I’m still fighting against a lot of things that aren’t worth fighting—that are normal and healthy and not hurting anyone (though I often believe they’re hurting me). Exhaustion and indulgence do not make other people “bad,” so why must I color them that way for myself? This is what’s at my core these days, the question I can’t fully kick. That’s not to say I’m unhappy—no, I’m actually quite happy with what’s going on in my life. But there’s this underlying sadness, and the yearning to override it—to fix what I myself am breaking. I definitely don’t have all the tools yet (which is to say, the confidence, really) but I think putting it out there into the world—rather than letting it fester—is a good first step?

5 replies »

  1. For preemptively being a post that doesn’t go in one direction or have a solid point, I feel like this post starts and ends with clarity, and has a fair bit of organization in between. Maybe you don’t have as much to worry about as you think. Or maybe you can trust your reader a little more to understand a less-formal structure. (Unless you cleaned it up before you posted? I do that a lot… but either way, I say this experiment was a success.)

  2. Seriously Jessica, I need you to get out of my head.

    You have summed up the anxiety that every 20-something female feels at this very moment. And you did it with such clarity and so succinctly. “…accepting certain things about myself rather than forcefully trying to change them for the sake of others (or, often, for the sake of the bully in my own head).” are words that I will carry with me.

    Thanks for the post. Don’t stop writing, please.

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