cause and effect.

i’ve seen a meme a ton of times, the one that's about not being able to relate to something you tweeted five minutes ago because you're a different person. i think about it a lot, as an introvert who's in my head most of the time, as a pisces with a constant wave of emotion flowing through me and crashing into me and as a person who tends to be deeply affected by everything that happens in the world around me. i think about the person i want to become, the person i’ve been, the person i am. i try to connect them in some kind of a fluid way but each of them is fundamentally different and i’m never sure where or how to even begin finding a common ground amongst them.

uncertainty, a state i feel as though i’m trapped within. the only thing i feel certain about. 

it gets worse the older i get, the dreams that once seemed so attainable feel so far out of my reach, like i waited too long and never tried hard enough and now it's too late and i don't know where to go from here. it's as hard to give up on dreams as it is to create new ones. 

it feels like i’m drowning in self-doubt while also fighting for my life because i know that i have something special inside of me. but i suppose everyone feels that way. 

i used to make plans. i was going to be a doctor. i think i partially wanted to be a doctor because my mom was a paramedic my whole life and i was always around ambulances and medicine. her medical friends practiced making splints on my body and they practiced drawing blood from my veins. i think the other part of it is that everyone knows that doctors are rich and although i couldn't quite understand it as a kid, i knew that my family was poor. and i knew that i didn't want to be poor forever. 

i lived in colorado from the age of one until i was eleven. i wanted to snowboard, to have certain clothes and toys and although my parents did their best for me, i never got to have all the things i wanted. we ate a lot of cheap and fast food and my parents both worked constantly. they split up when i was five and i knew they were better apart, but it did mean a lot of commuting and it meant i always had two different living spaces. both of my parents moved a lot, which i think is why i felt comfortable moving a lot when i grew up. i remember being eleven and moving to texas with my aunt and although her and her husband had money, they didn't want their kids to grow up a certain kind of way so they controlled their lives as much as they could and naturally their kids became exactly what they hoped to avoid. i suppose it was meant to be that way. i don't fault them for that. they did their best. 

i moved to california, with my dad. i didn’t particularly want to leave colorado at all but once i’d been sent to texas i accepted the move out west. my dad was always scheming and working and tried to give me everything that i wanted but i was getting older and saw the kids at my school and watched their lives and saw their houses and everything that they had that i didn’t. i learned about capitalism and consequently got my first job at jamba juice when i was about to be sixteen, the earliest i could legally work. i always had a job from then on, except for a summer i fucked around with punks and stole food to get by because "fuck the system" or whatever. the kids i hung out with were mostly rich, from wealthy families in southern california, pretending to be poor for the aesthetic. by that point i’d decided that i was going to go to cosmetology school because, as a punk, i’d dyed and cut all my friends' hair for years. i was good at it. the time came to start school and we couldn't afford the tuition. i lied and told all of my friends and myself that i didn’t want to do it anymore so that my dad wouldn't feel bad about it. 

in high school i was on the honor roll, in AP classes, on the varsity lacrosse team and planning on graduating a year early and going to stanford. i graduated a year early, because my lacrosse coach killed his wife and i had a mental breakdown and stopped going to school because i couldn’t bear to answer questions or look my friends in the eye or see anyone who had been on the team with me. i didn’t go to school for weeks, until my dad finally let me transfer to independent studies. i had lost all focus, all concern for my future, all motivation. i graduated solely because my teacher let me do pass/fail. i resented my mom because i’d been in california for six years and she'd never come to see me and then decided to show up to my graduation with my stepdad who i barely knew. i was in a rental car with the two of them and i got out at a light and ran away from them. i don't know what i was really angry at, i just know that i was angry. i didn't speak to my mother for years after that. i had nothing to say to her. 

time passed and i was managing a grocery store, which was a responsibility that i was not ready for. i made a lot of bad choices and was the type of manager i would come to hate in my later years. i was in community college and working full-time, taking night classes and not sleeping at all. for a year. i went to england for school which was funded by the woman my dad was dating, and while there i decided to drop out. i had no direction. it seemed futile and i couldn’t handle not sleeping anymore. 

i moved to seattle. my best friend died. i was upset and had sex for the first time and a couple days later the guy screamed at me while he was drunk and backed me into a corner while i cried. i didn't have sex again for two years. 

i had sex with a guy i was deeply in love with who lied to me a lot and later got married to the girl he'd been lying to me about. i was riding my bike one day after i found out he was with her and had another mental breakdown, crashed my bike and decided to go to therapy. it got too expensive so i stopped, but my therapist told me that i had (have) a tendency to "catastrophize" situations, probably because the last person who didn't respond to my text in a timely manner was my best friend who was found dead in a hotel room. 

this part of my memory is a bit blurry. i lived in LA. i was not in a good place. i was living in the midst of two friends and their bad relationship, and with a guy who pushed me into a wall and bruised my wrists who i ripped my nails off on while sobbing and screaming and trying to get him off of me. i resisted a grand jury subpoena and tried to keep to myself. i quit the job i’d had for about a year and moved to oakland where i lived on my dear friend's futon before moving to san francisco and finally feeling at peace. not long after that i started dating a guy who wanted me to be his dream girl and i wanted him to be my dream guy and about six months into our relationship i realized that he made me miserable, wouldn’t let me talk to my friends, was so jealous of me even thinking about other men that he insisted on buying himself a ticket to see drake with me, i guess so that i wouldn’t run off with drake. he sat there miserable with his arms crossed. this was typical, he made me feel bad and guilty for every single thing that i ever enjoyed. it took me another six months to finally get out of that relationship. somewhere in there he raped me and to this day refuses to acknowledge that it happened. all of my/our friends sided with him. so it goes. 

i was living in oakland again at that point. i slept with a woman for the first time and until then i thought i was asexual or maybe a lesbian because i hadn't had sex that i enjoyed that often and i had been attracted to women since i was about thirteen. i expected my life to change but all that really happened was that i realized i was into women AND men and everyone, really. 

i made a website where i wrote about feminism and nerd shit and people seemed to like it and i realized that i wanted to be a writer, specifically a TV writer. i saw the flaws in everyone else's work and felt like i was the person who could fix them. a while later i moved to LA again, in with a friend whose privacy i will respect with regards to our home, but let's just say we are no longer friends and i think that's best for both of us. i was never good for her. 

i was supposed to have an essay published in a book and i finished the essay but you know, depression and anxiety and PTSD are some shit and i didn’t have it in me to edit it in time and then decided i probably shouldn't be a writer, since i couldn't even finish one essay i’d had months to work on in time. i didn't write again for months. i still don't write like i did before that. 

i moved into a studio by myself and that was the first distinctive shift into my becoming the person who's currently writing this out. i’d been a slob before but now that it was my own space, i learned to be a clean person. i get stressed out now when my floor isn't swept. i had time to myself. so much time. too much time. i was working at a bakery and i let it consume me. wake up, throw on leggings, show up to work late, frost a thousand cupcakes and cakes, come home, eat out, go to bed. repeat. probably spent six months like this, in a kind of trance. nothing really actually happened to me in this time, besides the bakery people becoming like family to me, complete with the drama and obligations and tempers and frustrations and unconditional love coupled with blistering hatred. i’d still take a bullet for any of them, to this day. 

i started seeing a guy and not to be corny but i felt like sparks flew. emphasis on *i*. shit happened, things got bad, he told me i was a negative person and he was right. my friends loved me too much to tell me that themselves but something weird happens when you've slept with someone where you feel like because you've seen them naked and have had your body parts next to and inside of each other or whatever, suddenly you feel confident enough to say anything that comes to mind. it stung but i needed to hear it. i asked my friends and they confirmed that i was, in fact, a negative person. i resented that, but mostly i resented myself.

i’d always felt like i was too much. too passionate, too loud, too political, too impulsive, too ugly, too tall, too lazy, too angry, too sad, too quiet, too insecure, too, too, too. i can't remember who it was but someone told me that i reacted BIG to things. i’d always felt like too much and then that guy said i was negative and didn't want to be with me and suddenly it occurred to me that i actually just wasn't enough. i wasn't motivated enough, wasn't pretty enough, wasn't chill enough. it wasn't my passion that was an issue, it was my inaction. 

the uncertainty crept in. i always thought of myself a certain type of way and now saw myself in a different light and i felt like my world was upside down. around that time i read that kid cudi checked himself into a hospital for his mental health. i have had depression my whole life, my therapist told me. the "mild with bouts of severe depression and lifelong" kind, dysthymia. another doctor had told me at the beginning of the year that i also had anxiety and PTSD. and i saw kid cudi, with all the money and success in the world, struggling just like i was and i decided to get help. i started taking shit for my brain and everything shifted. 

i made a web series and changed my style and aesthetic and started to take steps toward becoming a person i wanted to be instead of the person i felt i was doomed to be. i don't mean that to sound inspirational because it really wasn't that serious. or maybe it was. i don't know. 

i got a cell phone when i was eleven, because i was shuffled around so much, my parents figured it was a good idea. one of those nokia bricks complete with a red dragon case. i got a myspace when i was fourteen. i got facebook at sixteen. i was always finding ways to be on the internet, lurking and making friends. as i got older, the internet became a big part of my life. when i was into punk, it was how i stayed connected with the friends i met at shows in millions of different cities. the people i met online and the things i read are how i became a feminist. they’re also how i became an asshole.

i would get into these arguments with people about politics and it was like i got off on winning them and making people feel like shit. for years. i used my intellect and the knowledge i’d gathered and i weaponized it to make people who didn’t know what i knew feel inferior and inadequate. and it wasn’t just me, it’s a pretty common trend amongst political people. and don’t get me wrong, sometimes people are willfully ignorant, harmful and hateful, and they deserve to have their asses handed to them. and i don’t blame anyone who reacts the way they react to the injustices around them, i don’t blame them for their tone or their anger or their inability to tolerate even an ounce of bullshit. be angry. yell at assholes. i can only speak to my own experience.

a lot of the time the people i yelled at were just genuinely trying to learn or had made mistakes, the same kind of mistakes we have all made in our past as none of us were born politically perfect all-knowing angels, and i used them as punching bags- i took my anger at the system out on them. there is a line between education and abuse. a lot of people i know would benefit from learning the distinction, would benefit from thinking about whether a person has done something truly deserving of what has been unleashed upon them, or if you just want to make someone hurt because you’re hurting and it temporarily eases the pain, or if you’re being willfully hurtful to others just to get likes on your comments from other people who are hurting as bad as you are. we live in a sick world and it affects us all. but again, i don’t blame anyone for their hurt or their anger. all we can do is what we feel is best, what is best for ourselves.

what's wild, though, is that a lot of the political people who think they're holier than thou for their heightened political awareness are the same people who are still friends with my rapist ex-boyfriend. funny how that works. funny like a funeral.

pretty recently i decided to delete my facebook and i stopped feeling like shit and realized that intentionally making people feel like shit made me feel like shit. i don’t like being awful to people like that, and because i have a hefty internet following, it’s like i was a magnet for people to come to with their ignorant opinions and i was angry and exhausted and weary from what felt like a constant battle for my rights as a woman and for the rights of the marginalized people around me and i reacted much the way you’d expect. not that it’s an excuse. there are plenty of people with the same opinions as me that didn’t react the way i did. i didn’t even realize how bad it was until i was away from it. people, my friends even, were afraid to talk to me because of my anger. 

i apologize to those friends, some of whom are no longer my friends because of it. you didn’t deserve to feel my wrath. 

i’d been taking meds, and it was like the shit i took for my super cute trifecta of depression, anxiety and PTSD lifted these blinders off my eyes and i could pinpoint everything in my life that was making me unhappy and little by little i tried, and am trying, to change each piece of it. i didn’t and don’t want to be that person anymore- that negative, miserable, angry person. 

i isolated the things that made me angry and unhappy. i got a new job. i cut the people out of my life who encouraged me to make others feel like shit, which was a lot of people. 

i don't remember why i started writing this but i remember that i started by talking about feeling uncertain. i just turned twenty-six and i feel impossibly old, like everyone succeeding is younger than me and i missed my chance for success and here i am, a washed up old woman desperately clinging to the youth around me while rubbing anti-wrinkle cream into the creases on my forehead every night. i have this gut-wrenching feeling that my best years are behind me, and i guess i’ll just have to get used to that. i don't feel like i’ve lived twenty-six years but i definitely feel like i’ve lived at least two hundred years. 

i wish i could go back to certain points in my life, certain moments, with everything i know now. 

 

to the day i stopped going to my regular high school.

to the day i didn't go to cosmetology school. 

to the days before my best friend died and go to visit her.

to the day i stopped going to community college because i swore it would be easier if i waited until i was twenty-four. 

to the day i turned twenty-four and never went back to college. 

 

maybe if i’d just tried a little harder at each of those moments, i wouldn’t be where i am now. but i guess that's the way the cookie crumbles. 

i know i still have time to do the things i want to do. i know that if i work hard i’ll probably achieve some level of success. people generally like me and they listen to what i have to say and i can be charming when i’m not drowning in anxiety. i know things about stuff and i can write better than, at the very least, lena dunham, and she's wildly successful. i can draw and i’m funny and cute and i have good taste in music and clothes and TV and i just... i know these things about myself. i know i can succeed in some way if i want to, and yet... it isn't happening. 

maybe i’m afraid of failing, which is weird because i feel like i’ve already failed, so what is there to be afraid of? 

maybe i am actually just lazy, but i’ve been working thirty to forty hour weeks since i was sixteen years old so how can i be lazy? 

i guess the truth is that it's capitalism- "pursue your dreams, but only on nights and weekends." 

i’ve worked so hard my whole life and yet here i am, twenty-six years old with no savings account. 

isn't it supposed to be easier than this? 

wasn't i supposed to be a doctor by now? 

 

what happened?

 

i spend most of my nights smoking weed to combat the impossible loneliness i feel since i never can seem to feel the right type of way about the right people. i think weed helps me. it's nice to have some portion of the day where i don't feel anxious about absolutely everything and i don't really care that i'm alone. 

wake up, go to work, stare at a computer screen, get home, lay in bed, smoke weed, sleep, repeat. it's the same cycle as the bakery but this time i’m a different person.

 

i am a different person.

 

i don't wake up every day wishing for death, like i did for so many years of my life. i try to be positive and optimistic. i try to be better to and for my friends. i try to take the necessary steps so that one day i will have enough money to care for my dad the way he cared for me all my life. 

i’m working on it. it's slow work, but it's work i have never done before. 

my life is the same but i am not the same. i wish i could scream it from the rooftops but i guess maybe that's why i felt compelled to write this. 

i’m twenty-six and hopefully the work i’m doing will pay off pretty soon. hopefully i am as special as i feel like i am and everyone around me will see it someday. 

or maybe twenty-six more years will pass and i’ll feel the same way. i don't know anything about the future. i hardly remember my past. everything is in my hands and everything is out of my hands.