I got a comment on a post from a couple days ago about how I write about dating too much.
And my first thought was, "Oh, no! I'm boring! How come I write about dating so much?"
And then I got mad. It's my writing space. And so I commented back saying that the blog world is wide open. Find another blog.
The commenter replied with an explanation, which I read as: Basically, you have a good deal of depth and the capability of writing about more substantial topics. Why be shallow?
And this gave me pause. "Am I wasting the bulk of my time being totally shallow?"
Because, you see, if you criticize me, my first reaction will be to wonder if you are right.
I grew up conditioned to think that someone else knew more about everything than I did. That person for years and years was my father, who made all of my decisions growing up and the bulk of them until I was out of college. Mainly because I just didn't realize that I could make better decisions for myself than he could.
Sadly, I'm not exaggerating.
Despite the fact that I started college with enough French credits to bypass all the intro courses, and in fact, probably get out of the language requirement entirely, I kept taking it. I liked the language, I liked the literature, I liked the poetry. The French, it felt good.
And then on top of the French I took a year of Japanese sophomore year. Why? Because my dad said I should.
Since I didn't have a better idea, or really even the wherewithal to know what the fuck I was doing in college in NC, and because I was good at languages, well, when he said to, I went ahead and signed up.
My Japanese class, in which I got an A both semesters, took more time than all of my other classes combined.
I don't know how much you know about the language, but to start with, instead of an alphabet, Japanese uses a syllabary. Meaning each symbol stands for a syllable rather than an individual letter. Actually, there are two syllaberies - Katakana and Hiragana - and we began by memorizing both.
And then we started learning Kanji, which is beautiful but basically, you're writing with complex pictures. In order to look up a Kanji symbol in the dictionary, you have to know how many strokes it takes to form it. But some strokes are curved. So you might think one curved line is actually two strokes when it's not. Which makes looking up a 12-stroke character impossible when you're mistakenly looking in the 13-stroke section.
And then there is the grammar, where the verb appears at the end of the sentence. All this to say, all of it took a hell of a lot of work. I liked it, though. It was fun and interesting, and I love languages and I loved the teacher.
And then the school year ended and I went to Rome for the summer. My high school friend Kassie had taken a break from college - none of us had an easy time jumping into college straight from India - and her parents were living in Rome. So she went. And her dad got us both summer jobs at the embassy. So I went.
I loved being in Rome. Some of it was Rome, and some of it was getting out of Chapel Hill and being in a huge, international city. Oh, I loved Rome so much. And so I decided to spend a semester there. When I got home at the end of summer, I announced that I was going back spring semester.
This turned into a huge fight. Several huge fights. Because one, when did I ever have really strong opinions that clashed with my dad's? Almost never. Whenever I did, it was a struggle.
And two, Rome, as my dad rightly pointed out, made no sense. You know, with the Lisa speaking French and Japanese and not speaking any Italian and all. And why didn't I go to, oh, France? Or Japan? For example?
Why? Well, France I couldn't explain, except that it was not Rome, which was where I wanted to be. And Japan, well, at some point I realized I had no interest in going to Japan or Japanese culture or really much about it beyond sushi and Hello Kitty. I was just taking Japanese because he told me to.
Italian? Could be learned. Make sense? I wasn't trying to make sense. I just wanted to figure out how to be happy again. I'd been so very far from it since arriving in the US. I'd spent two utterly miserable years at Carolina and Rome felt like magic. I finally felt good again. I felt like me. And I was going to Rome, come Hell or high water (an expression I don't fully understand but love).
In the end, my dad said that it sounded like the right thing for me to do. And off I went to Rome.
I had to declare a major before I left. You know, as one does when they're in college. A not unreasonable expectation. Except that I was so lost and floundering the whole time, and so I'd been procrastinating on it. The last possible day to declare, I picked French.
Did I have plans for it? No. But I liked it and I was good at it. And I'd taken so much of it already.
When I got back from Italy, I had a year left of college. I went into fall with the knowledge that I just had to suck it up for a year and I'd be done. And I could take it easy - I had barely any French classes left to take, and very few credits needed to graduate.
Until my dad said, "You know, French alone isn't a very practical major. I think you should major in Political Science as well."
Because Political Science? Is an incredibly practical major.
And so I took, I don't know, five Poli Sci classes that year. Maybe six. Whatever it was that I needed to add it as a major and graduate that spring. And get the hell out.
The point of this eternal college angsty story is this. That while my decisions might not all be the best ones ever, in this, the best of all possible worlds, they're the best ones I can make for me. And I wish I'd had the confidence and the ability to make and stick to my decisions, regardless of who questioned them, years and years ago.
But now I'm no longer changing what I do because someone else thinks I should.
I did that for years and years. I even went out of my way to find the critical men. And spend a lot of energy trying to make them happy. But it turns out that if you find the unhappy people, it doesn't matter what you do. They can't stand themselves and they will take it out on you. It doesn't make them feel better; it just makes you feel worse.
But at this point, I choose people and things that feel good to me. Purely because they feel good to me. If something feels right, I strongly suspect it is, in fact, right.
Just because I could speak Japanese didn't mean I wanted to go to Japan. And just because I can get more profound on my blog than fretting over guys doesn't mean I won't spend a good deal of my writing time splashing about in the shallow end. If it is the shallow end. I'm not even so sure it necessarily is.
And there you have it.