Back when I was 14, I had all kinds of confusion, obsession, identity and self-esteem issues. “Who am I, really? Who do I want to be? Am I cool enough to hang out with her? Does he like me or just think I’m a basket case? What do I want to be when I grow up? Will I ever stop feeling this way?” Well, at 45 I have the answer to the last one, and unfortunately for the moment it’s still “no.” So now what?
Okay, so I’m exaggerating somewhat. I’m happily married and my husband either doesn’t think I’m a basket case or happens to find basket cases attractive. Either way, it works. I have two beautiful children, and while my 14-year-old self wouldn’t have believed Future Me if I went back in time and told her I would someday love being a mom, it’s undoubtedly true. My kids are the best part of my life. At 14 I knew I wanted to be a writer, and at 45 I still know I want that… I’m just not any more clear on how to get there than I was all of those years ago. Questions about friendships and how others see me still plague me, as do issues of confidence and self-esteem. At 14 I knew most of my friends shared a lot of the same questions. At 45 I’m both annoyed and embarrassed not to have moved beyond many of them. I’d like to think I’ve evolved in the last 31 years. Good God… the math on that just hurt my head. I’ve had 31 years to work this stuff out, yet I’m still working. That’s kind of horrifying.
I think at 14 I would have assumed I’d have the answers by now, or at least stopped caring so much about the questions. In some ways I’m an entirely different person than Past Me, and I’m quite grateful for that. In others, the similarities remain glaring. And really, who wants to be an adult with the inner angst of a 14-year-old? Okay, perhaps not the entire package of angst, but a larger portion than I’d like, or feel good about confessing to. But I can tell all of you, because… okay, there’s really no good reason why. This is just what I do. I may not feel very secure in my choice of writer as a career path, but when I write I feel insulated in some odd way… secure. Protected, even. It’s probably a false sense of security, because the written word has gotten me into fairly deep trouble more than once. And is likely to again, but still I persist.
(At this point I’m recounting the fable about the scorpion and the frog. Do you know it? A scorpion needs to cross a river, and asks a frog to carry him on its back. The frog says, “No way! You’ll sting me!” The scorpion says, “No, I wouldn’t do that. If I stung you, I’d drown!” The frog considers this and agrees to carry the scorpion. Halfway across, the scorpion stings the frog. Stunned and dying, the frog asks, “Why did you sting me? Now you’ll die, too.” The scorpion says, “I know. It’s what I do… I couldn’t help it!”)
But back to the point at hand: Here I am, confessing all of this way-post-adolescent angst onto a blog. A blog that anyone can read. Because I can. Because you’ll read it. Because knowing you’ll read it gives me immeasurable satisfaction, even if the content itself makes me vaguely uneasy. Weird, right? But I’m a weird girl, and yes, possibly even something of a basket case. “The Breakfast Club” remains one of my favorite movies of all time, and Ally Sheedy’s character was kind of a revelation for me. I could so relate. Honestly, I wish John Hughes was still around to write a movie about adults who still face many of the same emotional challenges as their teenage counterparts. I have no doubt he’d get it right. Whether or not I will remains to be seen.