A year ago today I was getting over a broken heart in Europe. I spent my car fund in order to get there, but I thought the trip overseas was worth it. For the first time in several years, I felt happy and at peace. I saw life going on outside myself, and that life was beautiful. I promised myself that my life was going to be different. I would never again fall for someone who did not love me unconditionally. I decided to start over, I got a tattoo, and I entered graduate school. (This story sounds like the introduction to a rom-com, doesn’t it? Unfortunately for me, it’s not.)
I entered grad school with no expectations. I was just glad to not be bored anymore. Desk jobs and I don’t coincide. I still blogged as a means of sorting out my insides, but I never meant to use the internet as a personal diary. I didn’t realize that I was until someone asked me why I made my diary public. With a lot of anxiety, I decided to take extra writing classes in order to learn how to write what I should be writing. This semester at 8:00 in the morning, I showed up with my coffee, absolutely terrified that my heart would bleed onto the page. The semester is over now, but one of the greatest lessons I learned is that I can’t keep my heart from bleeding. Writers will bleed so I need to stock up on band-aids.
The end of the semester depresses me every year. I don’t miss my friends. I don’t miss studying. I don’t miss the early mornings. I miss the busyness. I’m afraid of relaxation because relaxation equals brain space for dreaming. My teachers think I’m a perfectionist. They think I work hard so that I will get good grades. My teachers tell me I’m intelligent and that I shouldn’t criticize myself. What they don’t understand is that I work hard because I can’t let myself relax.
For those of you who think my blog is a diary, maybe you should consider that my honesty can be a blessing to people who, like me, feel alone. When I relax, my head fills with unrealistic dreams. Ever since I was a little girl, all I wanted was one friend to stick by me for life. I wanted someone I could depend on. I wanted a lunch buddy who would eat with me every day without my having to ask if I could. I never found her. As I got older I more clearly understood that the only friend who could truly stand by me through life would be my spouse until death did us part. I thought I had met him, but he who was not marriage material is now getting married. I had given him my personality. Over this year I’ve rediscovered my personality with the aid of a friend, a friend that I fell for. I fell for him because he didn’t care if I hated tomatoes, he didn’t care if I had a tattoo, he didn’t care if I buzzed my head bald, he didn’t care. I should have known that he also didn’t care about me enough to be my lunch buddy.
My teachers tell me I’m intelligent and that I shouldn’t criticize myself. How can I not? If I were intelligent, surely someone would love me. If I were talented, surely someone would love me. If I were pretty, surely someone would love me. My parents tell me that God has blessed me with fabulous gifts and that I should give Him glory for them. I didn’t choose these gifts; I don’t want them. I’m tired of walking around campus alone. I’m tired of having no one to sit with in chapel or for artist series. I’m tired of eating lunch by myself. I’m tired of people making comments about me behind my back or in front of it. I’m tired of people saying, “You don’t have to worry about your grades. You’re the smartest one in the grad program.” I’m tired of being the best friend. I’m tired of being the shoulder to cry on. I’m tired of being the sister. I’m tired of being forgotten. I want people to see me, but they don’t because I wear a mask. I wear it in order to survive. When I remove the mask, like I did today, I am reminded of how not enough I am.
These are the lies I believe. These are my criticisms of myself. I don’t reach for the stars, but I still aim too high. I don’t know how to help lonely people who are hungry for community because I’ve never found it. What I do know is that my God created me fearfully and wonderfully. I don’t know why God made me the way He did, with all the extras I don’t want and without the one thing I do want, but I know that I am fearful and I am wonderful because He made me. This truth is the only band-aid I have right now, but it’s enough.