Unmasked

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Unmasked | Girl on the Verge - Post on vulnerability and post-graduatiohn life

Let’s have a little chat.

This space has been quiet for a little bit of time for two reasons. One, graduating college was no picnic in the park. I put all of my energy and focus into finishing papers and projects and exams; at the end of the day, I didn’t have any spare energy to sit down and type out thoughts. And at that point, my thoughts were just a cycle of edit this paper, turn in these assignments, eat energy bar, take exam, shower, give oral report… Rinse and repeat. Not exactly earth-shattering reflections to share.

The second reason is that, after I graduated, being completely open and vulnerable didn’t exactly sound inviting. I had just pushed myself physically and mentally for over a month and needed a rest in every area of my life. And while I loved being done with school, there was a lot of insecurity that enveloped me. Insecurity that comes when you have a blank future in front of you.

As a writer, I don’t just dabble in vulnerability – it encircles everything that I do. Like a singer or poet, the more vulnerable I am, the more authentic and true my writing is. Put it anyway you like, but sometimes that is the last thing I want to do. I feel like I was made to write, that putting words down in a certain order to express a thought or emotion is almost as natural as breathing for me. I’m not the best in the world at it, nor am I the worst. But when I’m struggling with something deep and personal, I’d rather hide from my writing than embrace it.

Sitting down to write ultimately means, for me, sitting down and facing myself. And although a lot of good comes out of that, there is often a lot of uncomfortability lying in wait. Because I was so zoned in on school the last few months, once I graduated my mind wasn’t ready to suddenly be free of a set schedule and specific list of tasks. Now I had to come up with every day’s activity. It was up to me if I was going to write or let the words leave my mind unwritten.

The pressure of being an adult (whatever that means) and the tendency to want to people please overwhelmed me even just a week into post-grad life.

Well after midnight, my wet hair coiled on top of my head, leaving a soft damp circle on my pillow, I wiped my puffy eyes as I slid between cool sheets. The hot shower had soothed my body as I focused on the light citrus scent climbing its way into the steam and rising above the curtain before drifting away.

I began to replay what had happened less than an hour ago – did I just have my first post-college breakdown? I’d gotten used to them during finals week and had walked around all of April one giant stress ball, a spilled-cup-of-coffee-away from self-combusting. Perhaps some of that stored-up pressure was beginning to let itself deflate… while the new reality that my future, my “grown-up” future, had arrived.

Poor Tyler took the brunt – a simple, kind question from him and I suddenly snapped, leading to tears and me turning into a giant snotball. Lying upside down on my bed, legs haphazardly  flung on the pillows, a blanket draped over my face, I sobbed into the phone. I don’t know what I’m doingggg.

Who am I without my crazy schedule, the never-ending to-do lists, the lack of sleep? My parents are used to (and proud of) the college Reeve; how will they feel about the hodge-podge jobs Reeve? What will people think of my freelance writing and mid-week dinners with friends? But more importantly, WHY was I still caring about what someone might or might not think of me?

Perhaps, I thought, as the comforter settled snugly around my shoulders in the cool May breeze, I should relax my grip a bit, just let myself be.

Truthfully, I am the perfect candidate to completely ruin and rain on my own parade. I have been waiting to graduate college for what feels like forever – yet here I am dreading the future.

“The truth is, we can’t stay students forever. We have to put the lessons to the test and embrace the life that awaits us… Keeping my nose in a book is terribly comfortable and doesn’t require anything but to consume. The problem is, it’s boring and fruitless if we never take the opportunity to exercise what we have learned.” – Valarie Woerner

It’s daunting to realize that you now are what you have been looking up to your whole life. Once in awe of those older girls breezing through the door at Starbucks with their shiny bags and strappy heels, sunglasses propped effortlessly upon sleek hair… I might not be as polished as all that, but I’m now no longer a kid or a teenager or even a college student.

My sister-in-law asked the other day, “Is it crazy to think that you are doing what you always wanted to do? You’re getting paid to write.. That’s so adult!” I nodded my head and the words stayed with me all evening. As I was explaining to my brother about a challenging article that I”m writing, he said “It seems so adult-like. And I mean, we are adults, but still…”

I can’t help but wonder (in a nod to Carrie Bradshaw), do you ever feel like you’re “there”? That you are an adult who is sailing smoothly ahead? Am I waiting for an “aha” moment of resolution that doesn’t even exist?

I might have worries and fears and feel insecure about writing sometimes, but what writer doesn’t? At the end of the day, I am a writer. Not a perfect one, but there aren’t any. And I have a little hunch that if I had my whole life figured out and there were never any bruises or bumps (or brick walls), I wouldn’t have that much to say.

I am ready for new challenges, and I am also not ready. And that’s okay. I’m ready to live unmasked, letting my words and my life be open. I’m ready to see how far I can stretch, to learn that my muscles are strong enough to hold me. And that it’s still okay to curl up and rest, letting myself dream.

So here’s to having a whole lot of questions and only a few plans, to never really growing up and to being open to a life that you never imagined.

xx

1 Comments
  • Cassie Harrison

    Reply

    Reeve, your openness inspires me. This article could not be more timely, as I enter senior year and consider, “Grad school or no? Which one? How can I be best prepared for the future?” Reading your thoughts is a comfort as I experience similar “I don’t know what I’m doing” emotions. Thank you:)

Lovelies, I'd be so happy if you joined in the conversation with me!