Monday, September 27, 2010


No, I am not belting out the Christina Aguilera song from Mulan.
If you read this entire post, you may end up thinking "well, someone's PMSing!" or "oh gawd, another one of those English majors who has to turn every moment of life into a poem." That is your right, if you so wish. Freedom of thought is a beautiful thing.

But so is the freedom that comes with writing. And that is what I intend to do for my weekly blog post (yes, I'm still bitter about the fact that I can only update once a week. I'm working through it.). It may be rambling, nonsensical, even *gasp* boring (perish the thought!), but I think it is what my current mental state is asking of me. Bear with me. Or jump ship. Your call.

Last fall, something happened. Something I have avoided mentioning in any kind of detail not just in this blog, but just in daily life. For other reasons, I'm still not completely comfortable with stating explicitly what; but for now, I will say that I fell apart. And by 'I', I am referring to everything that is encompassed by the pronoun - my physical and emotional stability, my memory, my work, my life. All of a sudden, I was no longer up to the task of being the perfect straight-A student with great friends and family and smile on her face. I was, if you can bear the overused teenage-angst-filled word, broken. My plan to go abroad to Italy was one of two reasons that I made it through the semester, and even then I was hardly what you could call 'in one piece.'

Today, my email inbox informed me that it is closed because I have kept too many emails over the past 3 years. Well, since some days I spend 50% of my time emailing, this was a problem, and I entered into the ever-so-thrilling process of reading all my old emails and determining which ones were deletable.
Is there a quote about the 'presentness' of the past? Somewhere? There should be. Maybe I should make one.
Either way, I came across emails from last fall of conversations I had with my mother during this time. My family is [almost abnormally] supportive and they are, without a doubt, that second reason I made it through the semester. 

These emails were...enlightening. I remembered the incredible, unbearable pain with each word I read, and it was hard to see myself as that tiny, hurting person again. This journey to the not-so-past past, however, was not for naught.

One of the biggest stress points was that constant dark cloud hanging over every college upperclassman's head: the future. The word just sounds scary, doesn't it? I was torn between three different paths. 
I know what I want to do. I want to learn Hindi, and teach English as a 
foreign language in another country. I want to learn more about nutrition 
and help people with eating disorders. I want to study language and grammar 
and all that crap that everyone else thinks is so boring. I want to go one 
whole day without feeling stomach acid burning a hole in my esophagus and 
making noise that I'm pretty sure [my roommate] can hear sitting over at her desk. 
I want to go one day without feeling like I could drop dead from exhaustion. 
I want to stop basing my own opinions on what everyone else thinks. But not 
a single one of these things seems even remotely possible.
Sound familiar? You were probably a confused college kid too, once. But this went beyond just a fear of life outside the campus bubble. I didn't understand what it meant to live anymore. I was grasping not for a career or a goal to achieve, but for a purpose. A voice that said "you are needed; don't give up." I was desperate; but it felt like I was dying.

Enter my very own deus ex machina (Google it): my mother. In the response to my virtual cry for help, she said:
"No one gets to live the perfect life. You just get to live the life you get."
(Little did she know, I'd be immortalizing her words only a year later on the world wide web. You're welcome, Mom.)
I don't remember a lot from last fall; it's still a little raw for me. But I know this email had an impact because just rereading those words was like a ton of bricks on my head - and I mean that in the best possible way. That purpose I was looking so hard for? Where most important things tend to be: right in front of my nose.

What is life if not a span of time given to you - to us - to me, in order to discover that purpose. Destiny, fate, *insert lofty abstract concept here*. [And yes, I just tried to define life - roll with me, I've been discussing too many abstract literary theories to count recently.]

I'm the first to admit that senioritis is most definitely setting in. I now sit in my Survey of American Literature I class, diligently taking notes on the significance of Puritan sermons and the attitude towards the natives with my 1000-page anthology open on the desk, and all I can think is, "why am I here." I could be reading about M.F.K. Fisher, doing yoga, or....researching M.F.K. Fisher (I love my thesis topic but it's taking over my life), but instead I am in an hour-and-a-half class discussing works which in other real-life circumstances you couldn't pay me to read, much less analyze the crap out of. But I have to go back to that perhaps unintentionally sage advice - I only get to live the life I get. And if Puritanical literature and endless hours of research are a part of it right now, then I better accept it fast so I can just do it. Because this semester - this 3-month period of time - isn't much compared to what is waiting for me. 

At some point in the near future, I will reread this post and say, "what the hell was I talking about. My life involves burying my head in a book or screaming at the New York Times archives because it won't let me view an article I paid 4 dollars to view. How can I just "accept" this???....I was definitely PMSing." Well, that's okay too. But I will get through it. And I will move on. And I will not be broken at the end. In fact, I'll probably be stronger. What doesn't kill you, right?

Enough of these musings. I have to go annotate chapter 3 of my chemistry textbook. Joy of joys.

...What? I said I'd accept it. I didn't say I'd do it with a smile.



  1. Awwwwwww. My 15 minutes of fame! You just never know when some inanity you utter (or write) ends up being the right thing for some person who needs it at that moment. You are so beautiful to watch on this wonderful journey called YOUR LIFE! were never were just "off the path" (as in over there where the rocks and thornbushes are) for awhile. Don't forget my favorite Emerson quote--"Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." You go, Girl.

  2. Gillian,
    I wish I had your gift. Keep writing!!!!!!I enjoy reading everything you write.