John Green and Me

During my last lazy cruise down Hulu Lane, I ran into something unexpected. The elements of it were familiar: a trailer starring quirky teenagers with a mind for adventure. But the title at the end, “Looking for Alaska”, took me by surprise.

“Looking for Alaska”, written by John Green, was my favorite novel when I was 13 years old. It was interesting to see that after all these years, the book and its author had enough of an audience to warrant a show.

Green was central to my incredibly awkward middle school years. I found him in the same way that many others did, by bawling my eyes out to “The Fault in Our Stars”. That book led me to his other works, pieces of fiction that seemed to get me more than any of the adults in my life. I rushed home every day after school to see the latest upload on “Vlog Brothers”, a daily YouTube series he and his brother Hank hosted.

Although the series acted as a conversation between the two brothers, it felt as though they were speaking to me. Me, a girl wearing Hot Topic who didn’t fit into the crowd, just like the love interests in Green’s novels. 

As a teenager, I longed to be just like the Green love interests. I wanted to be the spontaneous girl who might run off to the middle of nowhere on a whim, whose strange actions might’ve gotten glares from strangers but drew admiration from the male protagonist. 

I, like his protagonists, fell for the fantasy woman that Green spun in his novels. It wasn’t until later on that I discovered that his characters all had the same name: The Manic Pixie Dream Girl. As the name implies, this isn’t something that’s real. It’s a fantasy— a male one— of a woman whose quirky existence plucks men from their 9-5 lives. The woman, unlike her average Joe love interest, doesn’t have a story outside of the love plot.

Looking back, I realize that it wasn’t that I wanted to stand out, but that I wanted the adoration of a Pudge Halter or a Q Jacobsen. I was a lonely teenage girl, whose hyper nature put me outside of the popular crowd. I wanted a guy to see my flaws as unique and beautiful.

Luckily, I’ve grown out of that phase. I’ve traded the Hot Topic tees for wrap dresses. I’ve shed the searching for someone else to lean on to support and trust myself. I did grow up to be the kind of woman who buys a train ticket out of the blue. But I travel by myself in search of my own adventure, not for the sake of a bland male protagonist.

I’m not bitter toward Green. I’ll always love him for being there for me when no one else was and for furthering my love of reading. But I’ve grown up and I’ve realized that I have to live my own life rather than someone else’s.