All my life, I’ve wanted to be understood. Like how mathematicians tackle an equation no matter how many letters of the alphabet have sneaked their way in. There will always be someone that just gets it. I doubt that I am more complex than the square root of pi but sometimes I think that my heart’s wishes have been carved out in hieroglyphics and I can’t find an affordable basic course. I’ve searched for students far and wide, in the eyes of my parents, in the arms of my friends, and in my most truthful dreams. Running away from a common villain at the time, my greatest fear, my eternal companion; myself.
There’s a reluctant fondness that arises when referring to myself in any way. A clenched jaw that refuses to smile in private, a peace that settles when I am alone but I won’t ever admit. But how can you spend so many years with someone and not feel anything for them? When I think about my present struggles, and how they date back to a personalized past, there’s so much sadness when I think of my self treatment. The blatant lack of support that I punish in others is reflected when I look in the mirror. No one has ever been meaner, no one could ever cut as deep.
We have the tendency to be kinder with ourselves when time offers us a bit of distance and clarity. As a child, I always felt that I was annoying, too weird, and hoping to grow into someone that people would befriend. I normalized changing at the snap of a finger, told myself that being liked would be so much more rewarding than being me. Childhood friends are nowhere to be found in my twenties, so that plan failed. Now, I wish that I could talk to her. Be that friend that she prayed for, ask her about the random stories she wrote on the back of her notebook, and tell her to stop biting her nails.
I would advise her to hug her grandmother more, to stop watching Desperate Housewives behind her mother’s back, and to not worry so much about everything. She could have given all of those worries to me, I can take them now and maybe she didn’t have to be so sad. I wish she could have known me like I know her, but I wouldn’t want her to miss me as I miss her. Her smile still lives in the curve of my own. Her confidence in her dreams are my guiding light in the present, so I will always leave the door open, in case she wants to find me in the future.
On the other hand, the teenage version of me would probably slam the door in my face and I would completely understand. She would throw a hardcover novel at the back of my head and hate me forever. Talk about abandoning someone in their time of need. That poor girl had to suffer through some disastrous friendships, unrequited love, and 2014 Tumblr. There was so much anger, so much confusion on how to be, or who to be. I’ve always been adaptable, the middle child in me ensures it, but this time around, I had nothing to hide because I had no sense of individuality. Childhood had made me cautious when socializing and that hindered my development as a person. So, then comes the famous ‘you’re so mature for your age’ that gave me the worst type of ego boost. I hope everyone who told me that steps on legos while barefoot for the rest of their lives.
I was naive, and thought that clinging to my girlhood was childish. I wanted the approval of my peers desperately, to be liked and to be perceived as mature. Meanwhile, all I wanted was to be known. I wanted to be loved by so many people that probably struggle to remember how to write my full name correctly. It’s fascinating how everything used to feel like the end of the world and now … it’s just a random Friday. I would have screamed this at her. Thanked her for meeting my best friend in eighth grade, told her that her dreams mattered, and hugged her because she needed it. I would tell her to stand her ground, to rediscover her dreams and to stop looking for the approval of adults that wouldn’t be living with her decisions.
She would hate me at first but then she would have shown me the stories written on her laptop, the ones that she still hasn’t shared with anyone. She would ask me if I have the same friends as her and I would tell her that only a few. Always the drama queen, she would blame me for a while but she’d understand. Because I am her and she loves me, even though I hated her sometimes. Her fire, that burned everything around her when she got passionate, fuels my soul to this day. So, I offer her a key so she can open the door herself if she wants to find me in the future.
Now, the girl that I’ve carried through university, the one who is about to graduate. This senior year has been one of great reflection, moments that parallel my past, and offer great hope towards my future. If I’m being honest, I am not ready to let her go. She’s the one who has taken me seriously as an artist, the hero that saved me from never knowing what people would think of my writing. She’s stepped on multiple stages, lost herself in the moment, and she’s the type of woman that I wished to grow into as a child. She’s strange and frustrating but that never phases the people that have decided to love her, the ones that are rooting for her, the eyes that light up when they perceive her.
She understands me, without detailed explanations or forcing me to beg for her patience. She just gets it and I finally get her. I admire her hard work, how she prioritizes being a good friend without compromising who she is. She’s still embarrassed over how much she feels, how strong her reactions are but I can’t wait to watch her on screen, whether it’s on my camera roll as a memory or in the movies as a star. She’s got a lot of worries, especially now but I could never doubt her, because I know her and she’ll always know me. So, when she needs a reminder of how great she is, she can find me in the future. I’ll be there, I’ll always be there.