An Unedited Entry

It’s hard to describe what exactly happens in my body when I just feel too much. It’s happened so many times since I moved to New York and, as much as I rely on writing to help me externalize and thus make sense of my unorganized internal, the thought of putting the past six months to paper has sounded so terrifyingly difficult I’ve avoided it.

I wrote about the ten things I learned since moving to New York on Man Repeller. That was a narrow attempt. But if I’m honest that only scratched the surface of my experience here so far.

Even now I’m sitting on my bed, desperate to spin a cohesive emotional narrative out of where I’ve been and what I’ve done since moving here — maybe I’d even say I feel ready — but I still feel like I’m lacking the tools or maybe the energy.

What if I just wrote some thoughts and released myself from the framing of This Will Capture What Has Happened? This is my blog, after all. It’s not a media publication I’m being paid to write for. Maybe I can ramble and make no sense of all this and publish anyway. How many people still check this thing? Is anyone out there? It’s been so long, I know.

Sometimes I worry my cat is not happy. Sometimes I worry I’m going to forget my life and then other times I think trying to remember is futile, anyway. I’m sometimes startled to remember two distinct drunken conversations in the past six months wherein I confessed to someone that I don’t know if I’m pretty. It felt pathetic. I so often feel like I genuinely am not sure and, yes, I’m ashamed that I wonder about this and care about the answer. Maybe I’m supposed to know (does anyone know or is no one sure?) or at the very least learn to not care about it for more than a week at a time. And no, I don’t think this mental hangup makes sense when it’s lined up with all of my other beliefs (one of which includes that no human ought to be defined by their conventional beauty) but it’s been hammered in too much over the course of my life, that it matters, by society and then by men and then by me.

Yes, I do think it’s possible to think very conflicting things. Yes, I so often feel tortured by this complexity because how can I endeavor to understand myself within such blurry bounds and also how can I make a value judgement on anyone if I want to extend them the courtesy of my assuming they suffer a similar cognitive dissonance?

I’m sure my navel-gazing is insufferable to some people.

I’m looking at Bug right now and I’m not sure he likes living with me in Bushwick. My roommates love him and say he does, but we don’t dangle stuff in front of him enough. He has a lot of mats in his long hair because I’m too busy to properly brush them out. When I try, he jumps away. Either because he’s a cat or because he’s not happy or maybe he doesn’t like me or maybe he’s just not into being brushed. I guess I’ll take him to a groomer.

I got home tonight around 8. The earliest in a week. I have a story to write about “workplace mistakes and how to avoid them.” It’s due by the end of the day and now it’s 10:50 and I still haven’t started. Because this is the first few hours in a while where I’ve felt like I haven’t, in some way, been working and so I’ve been reading other peoples’ writing and hanging out with my roommates and feeling more like myself. It’s been nice but this procrastination will manifest as self-punishment in, like, an hour.

It’s fashion week. My first. I’ve cried four times, I think. This week and the months since I’ve been here I’ve cried more than usual, too. That thing I was mentioning earlier, about all the emotions, they sit in my stomach like rocks sometimes. You know when a bunch of little stuff is going wrong? And it’s awful and annoying and then yet another shitty thing happens and it catapults you into a near catatonic state of bitter shock? Like you can’t even believe it? “Feeling a lot” (that’s the most elementary way of saying what I mean to say, I know) reminds me of that shift from visceral everything to the quiet nothing at the top of a cliff. I feel so much that I don’t know what to do with myself sometimes.

So many feelings I go numb — a paradox. But feeling numb is just a preamble to busting out of the gates in the opposite direction.

The internal storm sometimes makes me want to run away and hide. Leave everything. Not really, but the idea does flit through my brain in a surface-level impulsive kind of way every so often. It’s a little intrusion I can’t control. Like, oh, wouldn’t that be a quick solve.

I don’t want the quick solve. I’ve never wanted the quick solve.

Maybe this all sounds like a cry for help but it’s not. The truth is, I’ve also felt the happiest of my entire life since I moved here. The saddest and the happiest and the most uncomfortable and the most hopeful and the most scared and the most exhilarated and the most gut-wrenchingly frozen while moving so fast I can’t think straight.

It’s so lazy, isn’t it, to just cram all those words together and put them in the above sentence? It is but I’m not going to get any closer to describing what all this has felt like if I don’t try. And if I only have the wherewithal to give it a half-assed attempt at 11 PM then so be it. It’s better than nothing.

I’m happy here but a new and different kind of happy. An uncomfortable kind of happy. It’s like I went from drifting down a lazy river to a roller coaster, if you don’t mind me using a trite metaphor. Emotions as compared to a roller coaster. How novel.

Writing can feel incredibly narcissistic. Am I writing this because I am pushing a narrative – one that encapsulates my identity and how I wish to be seen in the hopes that you “get me” and thus validate me and give me permission to take up space on the planet (but why do I need you to give me that? Can’t I just breathe and move on my own? Can’t I just love myself here and now and go from there? What do I need from you, whoever you are?) — or am I writing to connect with you? If I write honestly, from the fucking marrow in my bones, would that invalidate the former (pushing) and lock in the latter (connecting) or could both still be a narcissistic act? Who cares. This is the kind of shit that slows me down.

Sometimes I freak out about being 27. That I’m 27 and just starting a new career. That I’m 27 and just broke up with a wonderful person after 5 years and I’m not sure if it was right but it felt right in some ways and wrong in others. And now I’m 27 and I’m single and I’m in a new place with friends that look less like a crew (I’ve never had a crew, maybe it’s time I face that) and more like a shifting pool of acquaintances and friends of friends and coworkers who I do genuinely love but who have their own friends and don’t exactly want to make pancakes with me in their pajamas, you know? My brother and sisters’ friends are my friends too, but they’re really their friends, if you know what I mean. My roommates are my friends (but also my roommates).

Sometimes this feels like a lot of friends and sometimes this feels like no friends at all.

I have people I love who are far but the kind of communication and to-do-listing it requires to keep those bonds as strong as possible have never come naturally to me. The catch-ups that feel inadequate and require all the energy in our respective banks. I worry my “I miss yous” sound fake after so much quiet between us. But I do, so much. I feel somehow not built for staying in touch. Maybe that’s why so many of my friends from past parts of my life have moved on without me. Stayed friends, but without me. I wonder what that means? It makes me sad, but I guess not enough to make me change.

The age thing is silly, I know, and I could write a bunch about why it makes no sense for me to care about my age and I could give myself the pep talk I’ve given to people older than me when they’ve made similar comments to me. But knowing is so different from feeling, isn’t it? Maybe attempts to map one to the other will leave all of us really tired all the time. We all know a lot of what we feel doesn’t make sense and is even dead wrong but this knowledge sometimes does embarrassingly little for us.

I don’t think I’m old, whatever that means. Or that old is bad. Most the people I look up to are older than me. But 27 does scare me sometimes. Less because I want to be young, more because I want to get a lot done before I die. And I’m currently orbiting a new moon, one more often reserved for people a little fresher on the scene than me. New life! New career! New city! Cool right? But then I remember I’m 27 and somehow the edge of all those shiny new toys gets rounded away into something a little duller. I don’t really believe it’s sad (I actually believe it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever done for myself) or that any of that bullshit matters.

We can all feel a lot of shit that doesn’t make sense to other pockets of our brain, intellectually.

I love that I’m a writer. I think I could be a really good one, one day. I’d like to write a book or maybe a few books. I love that I get to do what I love. I love that, after what felt like a sprawling span of not feeling totally sure what it was that I loved, that I know now. That feels really nice. It feels like it makes sense and it took me a lot of time to get here. Not that I don’t believe a lot of different paths can make sense for one individual. They can.

But I feel like I’m in the right place and I’m doing the right things and now I’m just left with the confusing and colorful collection of puzzle pieces shifting around inside me, which feels better than dealing with all three.

I was at the Opening Ceremony show yesterday and the host (it was actually Fred Armisen) (it was a very unconventional runway show), asked us to turn to the person to our left and ask them if they’d cried today. It was a joke. I asked the girl and she laughed and said no because obviously the question was absurd and obviously she didn’t cry. Then she asked me back and I told her that yes I had cried. It was true but I immediately regretted my impulse to take the question seriously because I could see the discomfort and pity in her face. “Awwww!” she said. I wonder if she wondered why I’d cried. I didn’t tell her, only assured her it was okay so that she could comfortably leave the interaction. We turned back to the runway.

I’d cried because I was overwhelmed. Too many deadlines. Too many people that seem to know what’s going on compared to me. Too many moments of feeling left out by the cool kids, the way I so often felt in high school. Too many seemingly important people embodying some weird version of success that in a way I’ve never been closer to and yet suddenly have never felt further from. Too many flips from “I feel incredible and this is so cool” to “I’m absolutely nobody and don’t recognize this” and then “I’m awkward and too old to be so new to something that seems obsessed with youth” and then “I’m okay” and then “This is amazing and I’m so lucky” and then “I’m miserable beyond belief” and then “I’m acting so vapid so spoiled” and then and then and then. One thought or feeling, not sure which, after another. One frustration and delight after the next. A lot of sweaty and broken subway rides. A lot of trying not to stare at celebrities. Too much emotion for a spirit who can barely consider an emotion felt if she doesn’t in some way try to capture it. Like jumping into a pool and being told to just breathe.

I felt sad, oddly, that I didn’t and still haven’t shared anything about this experience anywhere. The shows I’ve seen and loved, the outfits I’ve worn (I keep thinking I look pretty good until I see the hundreds of women I think look better) (such worthwhile muscles in my brain to flex: envy and superficiality), the people I stood near, the events I went to….the spirit and energy of it all. The ephemeral and more-than-likely false importance of being there.

A very odd thing to have a feeling of loss about: not sharing. Not documenting. Especially on the heels of a story I wrote on MR about learning to not document, to be present. I’m not always good at listening to my own advice. And maybe I’ve had a desire to share because I’ve felt very alone all week excepting the brief and (stunningly!) beautiful moments I haven’t. Or because I couldn’t believe it was happening. Or maybe because I wanted the dopamine hit solicited by likes.

But I’ve always strayed from sharing what I’m actually doing online in that way. You know: the “this is what I’m doing” kind of post instead of the “this is a thought/joke/feeling” kind of post. The former feels false but then isn’t the latter a little bit too? Or are these the same as the binary I referenced above: pushing yourself on people versus connecting with them? Doesn’t one make people who aren’t there feel left out while the other includes them?

But then I think: if I don’t share the most compelling parts of my life then what’s the point of engaging with this platform that’s meant to reflect me somehow? Why not just delete my entire Instagram? I’ve never cared about my online portrayal telling a remotely comprehensive story, why would I change that for fashion week? I know the answers to the questions but I ask them anyway, which feels like a waste of energy.

New York is kind of everything I’ve ever dreamed of. It’s magical and devastating and somehow both more and less than I expected. More because it is, less because I don’t get to experience so much of what I observe and dream about here. Because I haven’t found the opportunities, because they look better from afar and because I’m a limited being. A breathing animal with too many needs to attend to. The city in general perfectly reflects the conundrum of something you want feeling further the closer you get to it. If I had the energy to explain that I would but, like I said, I have a story to write and now it’s 11:27.

I’m going to end this now. Since I spend all day writing now at Man Repeller I’ve felt less inclined to write here on Similarish. But a stream of consciousness feels like a nice change.

5 thoughts on “An Unedited Entry

  1. I am still following your blog and will continue to follow it no matter how long any breaks you take may be. I really felt for you as I read this post. I felt your joy and your fear and all the emotions in-between and below and above! I feel like your 20s are a time of unrest in almost every aspect of your life (coming from the mouth of someone who basically knows nothing about being in their 20s since I am only 22). I’ve found that we have this pressure put on us (by our parents? By society? By ourselves? By idealistic media that portrays wandering and aimless 20-somethings suddenly having a break through and figuring their life out and finding stability before the credits start rolling? I dunno. Just a few options.) to “find” our happiness and purpose and that we will eventually find this perfect middle-ground on the teeter-totter of life (don’t feel bad about comparing life to a roller coaster after the impressive metaphor I just used) that keeps us from ever tipping to the ground again. I’ve found that it is not realistic. Happiness is not a destination and when it comes into your life, just the same as with stability and heartbreak and confusion and feeling we are beautiful and feeling we are not, you always must understand that it will eventually leave and be replaced with something else but will always return. Not to sound glum or like I am some wise sage who is passing her knowledge down, but just to point out what I feel are the biggest misconceptions many of us fall for about finding happiness and it never fleeing. Another thing is, I think we all suffer from feeling like we are inadequate when it comes to standards of beauty and as women growing up in between the eras of “fit this very narrow idea of beauty” and “love your appearance for what it is”, I find I often have an internal battle going on of following body positive models on the internet and praising their message while looking at their butt and comparing how much more aesthetically pleasing their’s is to mine. Quite the conundrum. When I have a spell where my confidence in my appearance is low, I have found that it is best to not fight it and to acknowledge whatever it is I am feeling. I find that fighting the spells where I feel unattractive with body-positive mantras and giving the finger to the patriarchy often just makes it more apparent to me that those mantras are not true for me at that time and that maybe the patriarchy is winning. Which, obviously, only makes me feel worse. I like to verbalize the fact that I do not feel pretty at that moment but that it is ok and this feeling will not last. I remind myself that feeling “not-pretty” does not mean that I am not a confident, strong person or that I can’t still have a great day or that I am no longer funny or someone who has a lot of interests. It just means that I don’t feel particularly desirable that day and that’s ok. Just my own experience with those feelings. Sorry for the ramble, I happen to be experiencing a lot of the same feelings you described in this blog and it felt good to do my own consciousness streaming. I think your writing is great and I can’t wait to read more of it, whether it is via Man Repeller or The Similarish. I’m rooting for you!


  2. I blew through your blog archive after encountering your writing via a link from somewhereland to MR. In it, I heard a voice that was honest, and familiar, and perceptive, and kindred-spirit…ish, so I feel compelled to respond now. I’m almost ten years older than you (always a bit of a late bloomer TBH,) and am still mired in a protracted awkward phase. Unmarried and childless at a time when most of my peers have children in elementary (or dare I say middle?) school, I’ve found 600 ways to be interested in someone else’s tweener kids. Family events are packed with me trying to pad conversations that ‘should’ be about my spouse/offspring and their trials and travails. I’m just now learning that this might be another person’s purgatorial, single-girl nightmare but it’s the meat of my story and I better get comfortable with it quick, bc mama ain’t getting any younger. This is only echoed by being blankety-blank years into a career that, while I find it interesting and marginally dynamic, I also find it less than fulfilling on a personal level. Thank kittens that you grabbed that opportunity and started over when you did, from what I know about the situation, you’ve done right by yourself.
    Feeling conflicted about where we are, who we are makes us more interesting. If our lives followed the ramrod straight, nailed-down track that middle-class 12 year olds have doodled in their social studies notebooks since 1980, we’d be bored, drunk wastrels. Having conflict gives us the opportunity to grow from it, to have stories to amaze our grandchildren when they assume we’re boring old ladies.
    Getting older and more immersed in careers also means having fewer friends. This is something that I’m still coming to terms with – it’s unbelievably tough to not lapse in feeling like the unpopular kid, the one who goes straight to homeroom instead of hanging out by the lockers. It also means having more time/bandwidth to devote to the friends you do have – treasure those, they’re your cornerstones.
    I’m going to stop there rather than descend any further into a blowhard spiral. You have people on your side, pulling for you – people who’ve never even met you. Take heart and enjoy the ride, even these bumpy parts – much love.


  3. I was about to write about how stress and progress, in a way, overwhelm my senses and emotions or make me apathetic, no in between. The next line I read was, “So many feelings I go numb — a paradox. But feeling numb is just a preamble to busting out of the gates in the opposite direction.” If we are soul sisters, are we doomed to suffer the same emotional afflictions? Seems as such. If so, I’ll tell you from the other side of the panic tunnel, everything passes. Another one of our typical “just chill the fuck out” moments.
    I read this all last night, as my email still gets your new blog posts sent to it. I will probably reread endlessly, as I always have with your posts, whenever I feel out of place. Whenever my mind and emotions are running at such a speed that my body is floating in space, knowing this is common place through your writing grounds me. It takes one to know one, as the cliche goes, and so when the wheels in your brain can’t stop, and you vomit-type words onto a page, it brings such a sense of relief to me that I’m not alone. I know I’ve said that before, but I will say it again and again, because I know it’s not drilled into your brain: your writing matters, your openness should be rewarded. Do not be afraid to have a stream of consciousness on your own blog, do not concern yourself with the thoughts of who is reading (or not).
    There’s a ton to say, to the point I don’t know where to start. Clearly ^. So, my dear, I’ll say this: change and stress and the new will always be overwhelming. I’m your crew. And the emotions will be turbulent because life is turbulent. And exciting. And passionate. And 27 is as good an age as any to find passion with every step you take. Because I know you’re crying a lot, but I also know you’re getting giddy a lot. I know you feel 27, but you also feel 15 meeting your idols. You’re friends with the creator of fucking Man Repeller. You’re killing it, even if it’s terrifying. You’ll make it through. I promise.
    I’m not sure what I even said in my last email, but we are in the same spot. Ending a wonderful relationship, which feels both horrible and right all at once. Doing something selfishly, for yourself. Feeling lost at the same time as starting your career in the right spot, in a difficult and passionate spot. So whatever advice you would give to me, give it to yourself. Take care of yourself. Be kind to yourself as you would be to me. Good luck. You don’t need it.


  4. Dear Haley,

    Thanks for sharing your experience. It was an enlightening read; though, I felt far less illuminated when I discovered this was written near a year ago. There where moments which echoed my reality, and others which were unfamiliar; but, in the latter it became an exercise in empathy which I tend to appreciate more than the former. How are you now, I wonder. Perhaps well enough that ‘likes’ and ‘replies’ like this are appreciated, but in no form necessary.

    Your mild admirer,

    Ethan Young


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