Looking for Myself, Making Progress

It’s that time again. Tomorrow, after I do this awful statistics exam (which is more like an essay test because my professor doesn’t really do numbers but that’s another story), I head home. I’m so excited, I can’t even tell you! Heading home is the best feeling in the world. I love Philly and all of the benefits of living in the city but at the end of the day I always miss the open spaces of Wyoming.

I remember the first time I came home freshman year. It was a strange feeling, like being a puzzle piece that no longer fits quite right. I loved being home, but I could tell that things were different. I was different. I’d had new experiences and done all sorts of things and coming home was still like being wrapped in a big hug, I noticed that home “me” and school “me” weren’t exactly the same thing anymore.

This sense of some sort of internal split became greater throughout freshman year, as I began to see myself change and grow in exciting ways. I developed new interests, met new people, and learned how to sleep in on Sunday mornings like a normal teenager instead of getting up weirdly early.

People always romanticize “finding yourself,” as if it’s this thing you choose to do when you go on a solo backpacking trip across Europe and come back a whole different person who is wise and worldly. I was suddenly in the middle of it, sans the backpacking. I didn’t feel the romance, just a lot of confusion. Being in college meant making most decisions myself. How was I supposed to do that?

Going home freshman summer was even more confusing. I felt like I didn’t match the “me” of home but I didn’t feel like I’d quite assimilated to Penn yet. I felt like I was hanging in the balance between two different Taylors who hadn’t yet been introduced to one another.

Now that I’m at the end of sophomore year, I think I’m finally starting to see it all come together. Have I found myself yet? No way. It’s still one big game of hide and go seek, but I’ve got some clues. I feel like these last two years have been full of growth, and I’ve began to reconcile the two halves of myself that I believed existed.

My new favorite word has become “authenticity.” Whenever I feel like I’m being pulled in one direction or another, I try to step back and consider if it seems “authentic.” Does it seem like something I want to do? Is it in line with other decisions I’ve made? It’s not a perfect system, but it gives me some way of deciding on who Taylor is until I figure it out (spoiler alert: she probably really likes food, or at least she better).

As I head home for sophomore summer, I’m excited to head home more Taylor than ever. The “real me” is probably not hiding under a ginormous stack of pancakes that Dad will inevitably make me for breakfast, but I’ll look anyways.

Here are some of my favorite quotes about authenticity:

When is a time in your life where you felt like you were two different people? Did you find yourself? How did you do it?

Xoxo, Taylor

Looking Like Me

I was disturbed this weekend when I was skimming through Buzzfeed (#productive) and saw a story about a woman who has gotten over $20,000 worth of surgeries so that she can look more like Jennifer Lawrence. I mean, I love JLaw too…but what?

I cannot imagine wanting to look like anyone else in the world but myself.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of people whose looks I can admire. Would I scoff at having Michelle Obama’s arms? No. Would I complain about having Jillian Michaels’ abs? No. Would I complain if I had Beyoncè’s everything-from-the-neck down? Are you crazy?! Absolutely not. But would I want Michelle’s face and body or anyone else’s? No.

I’ve definitely had moments, especially in those frustrating early teenage years, where I just wanted to be cuter. I wanted to be one of those seemingly gorgeous, effortless, popular girls. But even then, I knew that what I wanted was not to be them in full, but to just be a more gorgeous, more effortless version of myself.

Today, having exited that horribly awkward time of life, I have a much greater sense of self. Still now, I would never want to look like anyone else.

I get up every morning and look in the mirror, and I know that although what I see is sometimes a little tired, a little smudgy with makeup I didn’t quite take off the day before, or a little imperfect, what I see in the mirror is me. It’s the same face in the photos of my childhood, it’s the same face I’ll have into the future.

Although I currently have no desire for any cosmetic surgery, I can understand having a nose job or chin implants or all sorts of those procedures, should you decide you want them. But I cannot understand wanting to look like someone else in full.

Who knows. At some point in the future I might chop off my hair and dye it brown. I might decide to only wear black eye makeup and get twenty ear piercings. But at least at the end of the day I’d look in the mirror and still know that under everything, I see me. Not Jennifer Lawrence, not anyone else.

I think the most curious part of the story for me is that this woman has a daughter. How do you explain to your child why you’ve gotten $20,000 of plastic surgery to look like someone else while encouraging her to be herself? Interesting.

How do you feel about the Jennifer Lawrence look-alike? Do you feel that your face is part of who you are, or is it of less importance to you?

Have a wonderful Monday!