music to soothe the savage snake plant

belm0ney
4 min readJan 28, 2023

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I’m trying to be someone I’m not and I think it’s working out for me.

When I first got here I realized I hadn’t prepared well enough. Normally, with occasions such as this one, I have laid out a persona to don for the first day. As a kid, my mom would always let me buy a new outfit for the first day of school. It was interesting to see how I performed without the pre-selected personality.

I am obsessed with the concept of life as a performance. It is hard for me to conceptualize doing or saying something in a vacuum– if no one is here to witness me, do I even really exist? I can’t figure out why I need to be seen so badly, or why seeing myself just doesn’t seem to cut it. I can’t figure out what quip my mom or dad said under their breath when I was a kid that made me feel so utterly dependent on real or imagined feedback to operate.

I tell guys I have a praise kink. I think it’s more of a validation deficit.

So I got here, it is the first day of a new semester at a college I have transferred to– and I have not figured out who I want to be yet. And I am a little frustrated with myself for not having determined this sort of essential information before the launch day of my person to my many classmates and peers, none of whom will notice me on my walk to class, all of whom are unconcerned with what I am doing on my laptop during the lecture.

Over time, a week or so at a new school, I feel out the campus etiquette– it is similar to that of my last institution, of course, but it is different in that it is a bigger school and no one seems to care nearly as much here about the label on their clothing or the way their hair looks that morning as they did at my last school.

I think over that first week I started to feel a sense of freedom I hadn’t recognized in myself before. I realized that there was not a limited selection of personalities and temperaments to try on here, but that you could really be anyone. I felt like I was in college for the first time even though it was the second semester of my junior year. That clichéd sense of a beginning to the rest of your life.

I let myself choose the parts of me I wanted to keep carefully, and slowly. I didn’t talk to many people but made sure to pay attention to the reactions of those I did spend time with when I would try out a new eyeshadow color or use a joke I saw on Twitter in conversation.

When I do my makeup, I feel surprised to step back and look at the finished product. I will often look and think, oh, I am no longer a girl who is trying to be that girl, I simply am that girl. I have spent so much time thinking, okay, how do I trick people into thinking I’m the person I want to be?

I think I’ve finally done it. There are two possible explanations. One, I have perfected my performance as girl with big tits, girl with nose piercings, girl wearing winged eyeliner, girl with her earbuds in, girl who knows what she wants, girl who is not afraid. Two– I have not perfected a performance of someone I am not, but rather, I have become someone I do not hate so much, someone I am proud of.

Every time I wonder or jot down something like I think I’ve become the person I’ve wanted to be for so long, something bad happens, probably within 24 hours. Every time I scribble I think I really like him into the pages of my journal, he is bound to do something horrific within two business days. I’ve stopped using these words that indicate some sort of future, because I am very tired of opening my journal the day he leaves and sighing and thinking, I should have fucking known better.

This happens every time.

It often feels as though my life is an effort to not repeat mistakes, or to simply “know better” my way through my days. Instead of trying to get everything right over the past few weeks I’ve just been trying to have moments that feel good. I take time to notice moments where I am intoxicated with my situation. It doesn’t have to be drastic– a cool day with a bit of a breeze, one that justifies the jacket I picked out this morning, and a good moment of a good song playing as I decide to walk diagonally across the intersection, is all I need.

I cannot shake the feeling that I’ve been doing life all wrong before this. I cannot shake the feeling that I could have just been myself this whole time.

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belm0ney

Isabella (she/her) writes literary nonfiction and creative memoir. She is currently an undergraduate English & Creative Writing student in Raleigh, NC.