Columnists, Columns, Opinion

What Grinds My Gears: The struggle of not becoming a cliché

I really hate feelings. And not in the cute, Tumblr-esque way. I can’t describe my hate for feelings with a black-and-white picture of roses and text that reads “love those that hurt you and hurt those that love you,” or some other corny phrasing of terrible life advice.

My hate for feelings is the kind of repressed emotion that will come up in therapy in five years. It’s hating the times that I feel vulnerable. It’s hating my use of comedy as a deflection from what I actually want to say. It’s hating the fact that it’s almost midnight, and I’m sitting in Mugar pretending to study while constantly looking at the door to see if the boy I was supposed to meet here is ever going to show.

Most importantly, it’s hating that this article is about a crush.

What else is a teenage girl with a column going to write about? I have become a cliché — an opening scene in a romantic comedy that establishes a guy who’s way too nice and a girl who feeds on that. I guess in a way I have become that emo Tumblr user who believes her world ends every time this one boy smiles at her and every time he doesn’t.

Don’t worry, I realize how I sound right now. What I’m trying to say is what grinds my gears is becoming a cliché.

Since junior high, I have tried to maintain a very specific image of myself. This image has of course changed over the years, but one component has always stayed the same. I didn’t want to be one of those girls. I didn’t and still don’t really know who those girls are. I just knew that I didn’t want to be one.

I wanted to be the cool girl, you know, the one who’s friends with all the guys. I wanted to be that type of girl who’s never serious and always sarcastic. The one whose teasing borderlines on being mean and who always mocks the “girly” girls — the “popular” ones.

When I realized that was an unhealthy way to live, I overcompensated and switched to the happy girl persona. She always smiles. She’s always sweet. She always has a joke, but never at the expense of others. She’s happy, happy, happy.

It didn’t take long for me to figure out that being happy, happy, happy all the time made me sad, sad, sad. That was at the end of my senior year of high school. Now I’m just Riley. I’m a girl with no qualifiers, and it’s harder than trying to be anyone else.

All I do is overthink. My mantra has become “what if”. Every thought I have starts with those two words.

And regardless of all the strides I’ve made, my excessively calculating brain still tells me, “Don’t be a cliche,” and I listen to it, because, well, I’m having a hard time finishing this sentence. Quite simply, I listen to it because.

Despite all this, I’m actually very happy. I’m just stuck in this bizarre internal conflict where I feel like I’m finally being myself while still having no idea who that person is. It’s a struggle that I don’t really have an answer to yet, and frankly don’t really want an answer to.

Meanwhile, my obsessive “what if” thoughts about my struggle for identity still float around in my head, consuming my everyday life. What if I finally figure it out, but don’t like it or rather don’t like me? What if I stopped trying to not to be a particular person? What if I started to like my feelings? What if I acted on them? What if?


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