By Missy E.
|Photo by Fábio Lucas on Unsplash
"The journey (including relationships, whether intimate or friendships) always leads us back to self. At least it should in some way."
Finally, and interestingly enough during this season of reset/refresh/renew, I've committed to reading more books. What a disadvantage to take that for granted for too long. Maybe it was because my job usually entailed long, arduous hours staring at a computer screen to either write, proofread or edit published works. The last thing I wanted was to stare at another screen and read a book. (Yes, I've borrowed hard-cover books from the library and no, it didn't work out). Why am I telling you about this? Well, I want to be a better writer and future published author.
I had a professor in college who told us that in order to write well we should read well-written works of art, literature, newspaper or magazine articles (way before blogs and online media was mainstream). I used to get such an accomplished feeling picking up a copy of The New York Times and reading it on the subway and watch how the "sophisticated New Yorkers" read the paper. Back then, everyone was reading a newspaper. They folded it in half or quarters and read the news standing up or sitting down. Pure talent.
So if I want to manifest this dream of writing a book, I have to do the little things daily, the things no one sees, and conquer them. I'm 300 pages in on the 2013 novel, Americanah, by Chimimanda. Cut me some slack, I know someone reading this might suggest this was low on the totem pole of fiction writing and might say I should've read more classics. Pfft. Call me wrong, but to get into the groove, I've got to meet myself where I'm at and then work up the ladder. Not that this novel is basic in any sense.
The author takes us on a journey, from present-day to past tense memories, flipping us through time, in order to build a better understanding of the main protagonist, Ifemelu and her long-lost lover, Obinze. It brings me to a solid reflection of my former self and the past lovers I encountered along the journey. Guilty as charged, I tend to associate a certain period of my life with the boy I was interested in or dating at the time. The point isn't about the boys, it's about me. Now as a newly married woman, I tell my single friends that the journey (including relationships, whether intimate or friendships) always leads us back to self. At least it should in some way.
I even dug a deeper hole and took out the receipts, figuratively speaking, of a time long ago, where email was the main form of communication besides text messages. Yep, I read old emails.
So many thoughts occurred during this time of introspection. I thought to myself - damn was I really that naive back then? Why was I trying so hard? Looking back and knowing what I know now, how the journey continued from that point, I noticed key takeaways. For example, I knew when I was putting up a front for my friends at the time, while suffering on the inside in order to come across as normal. I say to myself - for what? It's like I don't exactly know who that girl was typing those emails almost a decade ago.
I grin, at the thought that for what it's worth, in my 20's, we had a lot of fun running up a muck in this crazy city called New York City. Then I think to myself, nowadays, wow, who has that energy. I've unsubscribed to up-keeping the status quo on social circles that exist for the sake of ego versus authentic, beyond surface level relationships. High school kool-aid expired a long time ago, but so many still drink it. That, to me, sounds exhausting. Many do not get to master existing in one's identity as an individual. But life moves on.
Guess my point is, that, in many ways, I am not that young woman from 10 years ago. And yet, in many ways, she still lives within me but doesn't get center stage. She's (hopefully) matured, gotten wiser, sharper, stronger and more refined.
That's what we might all come to find out: that in many ways, we must acknowledge who we used to be, laugh at its humorous moments, come to understand why we might've said something or acted some way in the past, and then at the same time, still give ourselves enough credit that who we used to be can still guide us to understand who we might be and who we are becoming - in the present.