Summer always means transformation.
Every July, I get used to the idea that I’m one year older. This usually means that I spend time telling myself who I am and who I’m not, and who I want to be. Feel the loss of cells that have died and left my body to join the universe once more, feel old convictions flow out of my brain waves destined to join the memory of foolish, childish thoughts I once had. And with new skin and new thoughts I walk back into the bustle of this metropolitan city I chose to be my home.
There was less introspection this summer. My eyes focused outside of my skin, on other people, meeting hundreds and hundreds of people and falling into a never ending routine. Watching people reach the sky and burn out. Happiness ebbing and flowing, artificial niceties passed around a circle of unlikely dinner mates, the burn of alcohol sliding quickly down my throat again and again and again until, impossibly, it breaks through the barrier on my vocal cords. I see of glimpses of who I am without the fear, without the anxiety, without the depression in the mirror. New hair, new clothes, new diet, new habits…new person? Maybe this is what change really means.
At home once more I urge myself to look at the vibrant colours on my walls, my heart light and my spine relaxed, and I realise something. I realise the gift that this summer’s transformation has brought me: I don’t hate myself anymore. It’s the very gift I have been restlessly waiting for, year after year, ever since I became aware of my own personhood.
I don’t know who I am without the self-hatred. I don’t know who I am when I’m not depressed. I see the face I’ve wanted to see in the mirror for years now and I can hardly believe it. But my eyes also stare at the blank pages and my fingers tremble when I write. I want to think my talent doesn’t come from melancholy thoughts because that’s a cruel fate to attach myself to. There’s a yearning in my chest to make my life matter and it’s stronger than my will to be happy. So I force myself to write, to find a voice I actually want to read, because I want this version of me to stay. I like her. I love her. And I don’t fucking care if you hate her anymore.
I don’t care if you hate me.
I’m awe-stricken by the very fact that I can say that and realise I mean it. Feel the conviction of it beating joyfully in my chest, because this is what I’ve wanted for so long. But I’m scared. I’m scared that I’ll wake up tomorrow and I’ll care again. That I’ll be sad and anxious and dysmorphic and paranoid again. And that I’ll pick up a pen again and feel the words flow out of me, smooth and beautiful once more, and the prison guards in my brain will tell me that this is my sentence and no temporary reprieve in the world can really set me free.
So I urge you, if that happens, don’t fall in love with that version of me. Don’t love the girl that hates herself more than you love me, as I am right now. Because it’s sick and it’s wrong and I don’t want to poison my mind with the idea that people only care when I bare the blackest parts of my beings to the world.
There’s beauty in misery, I know. But I want to think that’s not the only beauty worth admiring.