Dear Diary

December 28, 2011

All manner of year-end anxieties, and anxiety-enders. Plus: Ruby dyes her hair!

Dylan

At every semester’s end I am rewarded for my hard work by returning home to Seattle, where I get to eat for free, play around with my dog, and respond to my mom’s questions in noncommittal, bored tones. In other words, I get to return to the teenage zone, with all of its comforts and confusion.

Usually, for about a week or so, it feels like an act of victory that I declare over the looming responsibilities of growing up—ha, back in California I have to, like, pay bills, and not overdraft my account every month! Here, my mom does all that for me, and makes dinner. See, adult life? You aren’t so scary. You’re not so real yet. I can come home and stall the rapidity at which you are throwing yourself at me.

That’s the comfort. But there’s still plenty of confusion, ready to be picked up where I left it last time I was home. There’s a process I think that happens to most kids who leave home to go to college, or whatever they do, around the age of 18 or so. There’s this once-in-a-lifetime, clean-slate attitude that accompanies your first adventure going to school or moving to a new place: it is at once the most intimidating thing you’ve ever done, and the most exciting experience in your development of becoming a young adult. You’re branching out, becoming your own, coming of age…gracefully hang-gliding into womanhood. Hopefully sans crash landing.

What actually happens is that you tuck all of your teenage emotional baggage under your bed in large Rubbermaid containers which wait there to be reopened every time you return. Every negative thought that I had in high school likes to re-enter my mind when I come home. These thoughts poach my generally positive attitude about my life. I thought I’d dealt with these teenage uncertainties when I went off on my own; I thought I had buried them under the bed for good. But I’d just stored them for safekeeping, until a later time when I’d have to deal with them. Now is later.

Off on my own in college, I’m pretty content with my life. I harbor some normal insecurities and social anxieties, but I’d say my outlook is pleasant and I like myself a healthy amount. But when returning to my mom’s place—the house I lived in from 14 to 18—I become the insecure, overthinking, nervous person I was in high school. I start obsessing about how I think people see me—obnoxious, immature, and inexperienced. I start convincing myself that I am that way. The spiral of self-consciousness and social discomfort gets stronger the longer I’m home.

Easily the biggest bad thought that happens is issues with my body. Since maybe sophomore year of high school I have been pretty on edge about the baby fat that never seemed to melt away. That was the year when I began the process of viewing myself from the outside—something I think girls are sent secret societal messages to do. It got worse every year, and I did gain weight because of puberty and whatever, but I’m an emotional eater. When I would feel shitty about how my pants fit, I lunged for the snacks to soothe myself. Pretty counterintuitive, but my feelings about how I looked controlled how I acted. They took over at times.

For some reason beyond me, my weight doesn’t bother me too much when I’m away at college. When I get dressed before class, I pat myself on the back for getting better at it every day! I’m always like, damn girl, you’re pretty fly, yeah love that jacket…let’s go to school. But when I come back to my mom’s house—maybe it’s because I have more mirrors in my room here?—I don’t feel OK in any of my clothes. I teeter on the edge of a nervous breakdown about the fact that even though I exercise and eat well, my mom, in her mid-50s, weighs 20 pounds less than me. That kills me. She doesn’t do anything to make me feel bad about it, and is encouraging me to not “get skinnier” but just get my emotional eating habits under control, for the sake of my self-confidence and mental health. We both remember the sobbing, heaving incidents of self-hatred that occurred a lot in the two years before I went to college, directly related to frustration about my weight.

When I’m back at home, these incidents seem so close again. It’s so stupid, and I feel like such a brat about it. My mind knows I have a healthy, acceptable body. No one ever tells me otherwise. Still, the emotional baggage is heavy. I never got over this problem—and by that I don’t mean losing weight, I mean being able to feel OK with myself. WhenI come home, this horribly mess I left for myself is still waiting to be cleaned up.

All of this makes me anxious about going home for the summer. It’s so much simpler to be somewhere else (e.g., college), somewhere that isn’t filled with all of these associations with the pains of growing up. It’s easier to ignore a problem than to take care of it. I’d rather pretend I’m not self-conscious and uncomfortable, and go back to Oakland where I can keep forgetting that I actually still am. Actually, I don’t even have a bed in Oakland. Just a mattress on the ground. No space for stupid problems to hide there. ♦

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21 Comments

  • marimba_girl December 28th, 2011 7:16 PM

    Katherine I’ll talk dubstep with you (and by this I mean moore than Skrillex)!!!

  • cherrycola27 December 28th, 2011 8:23 PM

    I never make New Year’s Resolutions, either. I think you can resolve to do something anytime of year, why does it have to be specifically on New Years? It seems everyone is destined to be disappointed in themselves this way.

  • Marguerite December 28th, 2011 8:34 PM

    OLD PEOPLE ARE SO EXCEPTING! like i was talking of getting my hair died with my grandma, and we had like all these hairstyles picked out and colours, and then mother dearest is like uuuummmmmmmm…. well i dont think so…..

    and want to go to church this year, not like on sunday morning with the rest of the people, just show up and pray on my own

    “Track down that Hogwarts letter that those gershdern owls lost when I was 11″ <– doing that too!

    Ruby- i really like your hair , its totally cool :)

    • Marguerite December 28th, 2011 8:35 PM

      did i spell excepting right? – i don’t think i did…

  • emilyelizabeth December 28th, 2011 8:40 PM

    ruby, i also barter babysitting for getting my hair dyed! i think the purple is beautiful!

  • annagracie December 28th, 2011 8:44 PM

    Looks good, Ruby!

  • cellardoor December 28th, 2011 8:45 PM

    Ruby, your hair looks great! Even if you were to dye it all purple, once your hair starts to grow, the roots will still be your natural hair color. I mean, you can’t change that just by dying it. It’ll always grow back in the color that it naturally is.

  • sissi December 28th, 2011 8:55 PM

    ruby, what type of dye did you use. my hair is a similar shade to your natural hair and i really like how the purple came out. please get back to me.

  • theo December 28th, 2011 9:04 PM

    dylaaaan,
    you are awesome and this is such a beautiful and relatable entry. Love that jacket!

    -theo

  • MissKnowItAll December 28th, 2011 9:50 PM

    Ruby
    Your hair looks wonderful.
    I wish I could dye my tips purple but I have black hair so all I would get is a pinkish tint:(

  • rhymeswithorange December 29th, 2011 12:16 AM

    Your hair looks awesome, Ruby!

  • Dakota December 29th, 2011 3:39 AM

    Oh the purple is beautiful Ruby!!!! I think it would look really good if you dyed it all purple!

  • dlaebe December 29th, 2011 8:24 AM

    naomi, this is a beautiful entry. “so much care stored up for people” that’s exactly right. exactly how it should be.

  • christinachristina December 29th, 2011 12:18 PM

    Ruby; I think the purple looks wonderful. It would obviously look awesome to do your whole head purple, but I think this look is nice and pretty and different and unconventional.

  • WitchesRave December 29th, 2011 1:11 PM

    Ruby: GAHH! my envious feelings for blondes will never go away! You guys can dye your hair any colour you want and it will come out perfecetly! If i had your hair i would probably dye the whole thing a dusty lilac colour..hint hint.. (:

  • noumi December 29th, 2011 3:43 PM

    Oh Dylan i’m in the same state of mind right now after being away from home to study at college and even away from my home country for 4 months living on my own.. I’m heading back soon so this kind of bad feeling will go and then be back for summer..! We just have to not be so negativ and just accept that we’ve changed for the better.. :)

  • Tyknos93 December 29th, 2011 8:20 PM

    Ruby I love your hair! I’m black and I have natural hair (BIG afro) and I’m afraid of what it will do If I dye it. I’m thinking green, pale pink or violet. I did a post on it today.
    http://blazoningpens.blogspot.com/2011/12/there-is-light-that-never-goes-out.html

  • Hedwig December 30th, 2011 11:05 AM

    Ruby! You should be semi-like Violet Baudelaire and tie your hair back in a black ribbon.

  • isadora January 1st, 2012 8:20 PM

    Your hair looks awesome, Ruby!
    I’m going mid-turqouise soon.

  • I.ila January 3rd, 2012 1:32 PM

    my friend who is next to me loves dubstep… but she doesn’t read rookie :-(

  • Kathryn January 16th, 2012 12:07 PM

    Ruby, your hair looks really cool! I have dark brown curly hair, and I wanted to dye it pastel blue or purple or something for a really long time, but now I think i’m just gonna cut it really short in 1920s sort of thing? I’m too scared I’m gonna ruin it! I’m very jealous that blondes can just go for it with no bleach!

    Katherine, we share many of our resolutions. Also, I think about the beauty of young DiCaprio all of the time.