“I’m not sure you’d like my stuff, though,” I told someone after they asked me for the link to my blog. I gave it to them, but I thought they deserved due warning.

I smile in real life. Like, a lot. When I listen to podcasts and comedy routines on the metro I bite my life to keep from laughing out loud. I do the same when I read funny books. One of my exes told me he’d never met someone who had an opinion on literally everything after talking for Miley Cyrus for fifteen minutes, in my usual animated way. I had another tell me that I was one of the few people that could make him genuinely laugh. After telling a girl I was talking to that my favorite Disney princesses were Rapunzel and Ariel she answered, “You realize that you’ve chosen the princesses that are most like you, right?”

“I don’t think I have. I think I probably resemble Anna the most. Maybe Merida.”

“The flying to another country at the age of nineteen is the kind of thing Rapunzel or Ariel would do, though. And your favorite was Ariel until you saw Tangled because you related more to Rapunzel, that’s who you’d remind me of, if I had to choose.”

I’m not sure, but I feel like people who know me only for my writing would be mystified why I’d remind anyone of Rapunzel. They’re not imagining an animated, optimistic, polite girl who smiles at cashiers and chats with her doorman. Not imagining a girl who likes strawberry frappes because they’re pink and would save a stuffed gorilla named Maria her mom gave her when she was six over her laptop in a fire. Not imagining a girl who laughs when she’s nervous and when she’s exhausted and obnoxiously reminds everyone her birthday is coming up because she hates getting older but loves attention.

But I think the people that do see that girl don’t expect the inverse either.

When I was fourteen I shared a short story I wrote for a competition with a couple of my friends. Neither of them actually gave me any kind of useful feedback. But one of them returned the short story to me and said, “I wasn’t aware you knew how the real world worked.”

“Um…thank you?” I answered, not entirely flattered. Obviously.

“You just come off as kind of naive.”

“I do not!”

She shrugged in disagreement and didn’t pursue the argument and I thought it might be an overreaction to pursue it. When the aforementioned person asked why I didn’t think she’d like my writing, I shrugged. “It just has kind of strong language which you don’t seem to like. Plus, a lot of it is, like, really depressing.” I didn’t mention the allusions to sex. That would probably be surprising too, but not in the same vein.

“You know, it’s not that surprising,” she told me a little later in the conversation. “I’ve found that those who shine the most light have just as much darkness inside.”

“Yeah, maybe that’s true,” I said after a few seconds and then smiled at her. Because I thought it was sweet, for someone to tell me I shine light on the world.

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