I awoke at 7:30, gulped down a couple of ibuprofen, beat the rest of my hall to the showers, and nipped that hangover in the bud before it even began.
I decided that it was a center part kind of day, and then after I failed, I put on orange lipstick before heading to Hy-Vee for a successful grocery trip, during which I bought two bottles of wine and not much else. As I returned to my car, I noticed that it was 40 degrees outside (a far cry from the 80 degree high a few days ago)— So obviously I decided it was time to go for a solitary hike in the nature reserve by my school.
When I was in studying in Cambridge, I would go running through the countryside through tiny villages, past ancient churches and Green Man pubs, regularly making accidental discoveries of natural gems like Byron’s Pond. I used to hop on the train for day trips to London, where I would get lost hiking in Hampstead Heath, an entire wilderness within a city.
Usually, you won’t find a more calm, content Kasia than a Kasia who is embarking on a solo walking trip in the country, far away from the perplexing world of people. But today, despite the crisp air and the trees turning colors in typical autumn fashion, I was sad. I’m unable to stop comparing my life now to my life this time last year. Missouri versus Cambridge. The present just can’t win.
Later today, I had a Skype date with my three best friends from England. Despite the fact that it’s their last year in school, they seemed to be more keen to go out every night of Freshers’ Week than the first-years. Unabashed and un-ironic enthusiasm, that’s what I love and miss about my Cambridge babes. They were pre-drinking before the first bop of the year. It was only 1:00 p.m., but I broke out the Riesling and drank with them.
It’s fine. It’s just sadness. And this too shall pass. It always does.
Perhaps identity is the most selfish thing on which to dwell, especially changing identity, or that identity-which-is-too-quickly-getting-older, and there are certainly one too many Thought Catalog articles whining about growing up too quickly in your twenties, but I don’t want to think of aging like that.
I don’t feel any sort of faux nostalgia for my “youth”; in fact, I like being twenty-one years old. Aging, at least aging into my early twenties, suits me. But I’ve also noticed that my identity, i.e. how I define myself, has shifted so much in the past year alone that I am constantly racing to keep up.
I am a product of language, a constantly shifting dynamic of signified-signifier. Six months ago, I was carefree in Cambridge. Without any extra commitments, I could solely focus on working hard (on literature that I enjoyed!) and playing harder. University girl, in the best college town on Earth. I was so far removed from real life, and I was happy.
But now, and with such an unbelievably quick transition, I’m an entirely different person. College senior, working woman (well, intern), somewhat bitchy editor on the newspaper staff. The responsibilities have returned, and with it that tired Kasia; there’s something new, too. I feel like an adult, or, at least, a kid in an adult costume. Two jobs, plus school. Sorting out health insurance. A lapse in my Catholicism— not the teenage existential crisis kind, the I-legitimately-don’t-have-time-for-this kind. A messy personal life, and then the subsequent convincing myself that morals are relative (or otherwise face consequences and have a breakdown). My happiness is entirely situational. I’m exhausted. Is is normal to be this exhausted all the time as an adult?
I’m still better off than I ever was during my childhood and teenage years. But even in the past month, the language of my identity has gone through so many shifts in meaning. I suppose that’s la différance.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
No, I’m not… I’m not being facetious, I swear. Just because I don’t have a beau with whom to celebrate means that I have to lounge in my pajamas while testing out my Domino’s-Ben-and-Jerry’s combo recipe and watching JennaMarbles bitch about cinnamon on YouTube? No way, man. Replace viral videos with terrible chick flicks starring beautiful people, and I tried that already when I was 18 years old. But a lot has changed since then. JennaMarbles hadn’t been invented. I couldn’t yet buy wine for myself. And I was still living in the Midwest.
Now, I live in Cambridge, a place where all the expectations of growing up in Missouri are reversed. My peers don’t have significant others, and it certainly doesn’t bother them. They are too busy with perfecting the balance of hard work and enjoying their youth. Suddenly, I’m an a place where my perspective on life isn’t just recognized— it’s the norm! Good God, pinch me.
You see, growing in the rural Midwest, people were always suspicious non-obsession with boys. Why is finding Prince Charming not your priority, Kasia? Why are you so focused on school and books and writing? In short, what is wrong with you? Even my sister, who is still in high school, recently informed me in a Skype session that she had found the man for me to “marry.” When, in an irritated mood, I retorted in defense and asked her to stop with this unsolicited advice, she responded, “Well obviously you’re being defensive, so there is some truth to you being lonely.”
On the contrary, little sister. In my entire life, I’ve never been happier. My favorite activities are reading books on my own and dancing with friends, and I’ve done plenty of both this year. For the first time, too, my impulse to not give a rat’s ass about a boyfriend has been received as perfectly normal. Before, I felt lonely for two reasons. First, I was met with that ubiquitous response, “there must be something wrong with her.” Secondly, any “romantic” experience I’ve had so far—whether it be dating or hooking up with a guy in a club—has left me with that disgusting sinking feeling in my stomach…just pure, elemental self-loathing. If countless hours of pouring over poetry and novels (gross, English major) have taught me anything, a guy worth having should make you feel good about yourself.
But the fact is, I can finally accept myself as an independent young woman. I now understand that I was never solely lonely (I’ve got the most wonderful friends in the entire world). Instead, I was upset that I was unable to conform to expectations. Now, I know better; finally, finally, I’m becoming comfortable in my own skin. I’m happy for those who are in relationships (perhaps the most telling change of all), which is why I honestly do hope that you have a lovely Valentine’s Day. But if you’re single, this message is for you: don’t despair. If romance isn’t your priority, there’s nothing wrong with you. It only means that you’re driven in some other way, whether it be for your career, religion, family, or whatever else… and that’s just fine.
I will certainly be celebrating Valentine’s Day; I’m about to shower before cocktails and dancing with my friends. And since I’m on Tumblr, I might as well say it: my ship is Kasia x Self-Respect.
In the next week, this blog is about to undergo some MAJOR changes.
I won’t tell you everything, but I will say that the reasons are both professional and personal. So, here’s the short version: I haven’t been updating my study abroad blog for a while, which is largely because I thought I lost my mojo. I was having trouble creating my experiences into stories— but what I did notice was how much pleasure I got typing up (currently unpublished) movie reviews, social observations, and all-around pop culture commentary.
So instead of pining over my loss of ability to write a story, I’m going to publish on topics which I enjoy. I hope the more I write, the more I will be able to stretch myself creatively, and eventually, I’ll return to my roots: a good story.
In any case, this is all to say: expect some kinks on my blog for the next few days. Time for a MAKEOVER.
I plan on updating InTransit too, but probably not in the way you expect. So stay tuned, you Saucy-Faces!
(…forgive me. I just read Pamela for supervision, and my, my, that book is essentially just a collection of vulgar names to call those devious women-folk.)
I promised to edit an essay for my little sister by tomorrow, which is why I was digging through the documents saved onto my computer. I found her essay, but I also found a word document called “writing in Poland,” with about ten unfinished pieces from my holidays. I had already forgotten it. Was I really visiting my family in Poland only three weeks ago?
It’s probably not a good idea to publish it, but I’m so sleep-deprived I don’t care. Here is something of a journal entry that made me particularly sad to read, and not just because I referred to myself in the third person.
Kasia had forgotten how to write. Not logistically, of course. She still knew her alphabet. She knew how to hold a pen to paper. And she knew how to type on a computer. And she hadn’t forgotten how to write everything. She could still write a mean essay and a damn good journalism article.
But there was a reason that she wanted to study English in the first place, and that was because she wanted to be a writer. The kind of writer who knows creativity, and can write a story that sucks the reader into a different world and then lingers in the reader’s mind for days, months, and years afterward. And this was what she had forgotten.
That’s probably why she hadn’t updated her study abroad blog for a while, and was focusing instead on her original tumblelog, typing up personal posts about New Years’ resolutions and pop culture analyses. It wasn’t that she didn’t have the impulse to write, because she certainly did. And writing these dinky little articles not only came to her as naturally as tying her shoe, but she enjoyed it greatly too. Crafting each sentence, picking the right words. Making clever jokes here and there. It was great fun for her to write. But she could no longer write a story.
She didn’t know how to end this story, for instance. So she sat there, on a crowded bus, staring at the Polish dude on the television screen who was instructing passengers that gambling was strictly prohibited on the 15-hour ride.
She didn’t know how to end this story.
in honor of nanowrimo, and the fact that i loathe shitty-to-mediocre writing (only when the writer is damn pleased with him(her)self, i should say)