Last week I got my exam results, and I’ll start going to my new school next week. I feel actual excitement at the prospect of this new blank slate, a brand-new timetable, fresh faces, smooth classroom tables, blank notebooks.
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to an accompanying spike of nausea and nerves—but this time I’m able to override them. I feel as though I was pulled toward this new term at this new school—I took to the idea of it so easily, after years of stiff awkwardness at my old school. I could have so easily not gone to that open house back in February, but I followed through on that slight tug that I felt.
I’ve wanted my life to always feel this natural, this smooth. But lately I’ve been re-reading Sylvia Plath’s diaries and discovering E.M. Forster through A Room With a View, and one thing that I have learnt from both of them is this: it’s OK to embrace the awkwardness of life too, not just the smooth. The rough and clunky doesn’t need to be avoided. As Forster writes, “Life is easy to chronicle, but bewildering to practice.” Not much is more relevant to me than that.
Forster writes such excruciatingly real people—not just characters with “faults” (like a pretty girl who can’t find a man because she is just soooo clumsy!!!) that lesser writers come up with when they’re trying to make someone “three-dimensional.” Forster’s characters have contradictions and confusing traits that make them difficult to pin down. Just like people are. (Though I’ve often wished that people could stay in one box so I wouldn’t have to question how I genuinely feel for them.)
In Plath’s diaries she talks about the strangeness of coming home late when you’ve been out on your own: “I snip off the thread of aloneness and enter into the ritual and rooms that are the family, are the home.” I have had that feeling. But for some reason I didn’t think I should feel it—I thought that I should be able to swiftly move from place to place without any trouble, with no inner adjustments to be made and no threads tying me to anything. I’ve ignored that feeling, while Plath wrote beautifully about it.
I am glad I am not the only one constantly questioning feelings that don’t sit neatly within me. These two writers make me feel like it is actually all right to write about those feelings instead of ignoring them. Like I might not have to smooth over the cracks in my bewildering life. ♦