i wonder who i would be today
if i hadn’t spent years trying so hard
to be someone else.
- Shelby Leigh, Girl Made of Glass.
Years I spent trying to cleanse myself of my kinks. Stifling my own sexuality and refusing to bloom.
Years I spent trying to quiet my inner voice. Not trusting my own gut.
Years I spent pursuing a career that I did love, but it wasn’t my first love. But becoming an artist and a writer wasn’t what everyone expected of me. So I pushed her aside, and gave 10 years of my life to science. I don’t regret it. Because in the end, I realized I could love them both.
Years I spent trying to be the perfect daughter. The perfect friend. The perfect employee. Giving and giving until I was just a stump for some entitled old man to sit on.
I wonder who I would be had I not spent years trying so hard to be someone else.
I used to think of my decisions like the fig tree from Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar:
I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.
Every decision I made, every fig I ate, I thought about how another fig had just fallen off the tree. I would mourn that lost version of myself, instead of embracing who I was.
But time spent sitting under the fig tree, mourning who we could have been, is time stolen from who we are and who we’re becoming.
Anyways, fallen figs can still become trees, afterall.