messy thoughts
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A Snapshot of My Life

A snapshot of my life at 20

It’s 4 am and I just crawled into bed with one of my best friends. She’s been asleep for a few hours, feeling tired from today because rent is due and all we have is rice and coffee. The duvet cover is off because I went to the laundromat too late and sat outside defeated while they shook their heads from inside. I lugged the overstuffed bag of dirty clothes back to my apartment, and had to remake the bed, but you know, the duvet is the hardest part, and I’ll do my laundry tomorrow. 

I travel by foot or by train everywhere I go. Cars are rare because fares are expensive. Sometimes we will split if it makes sense- once I took an uber pool because it was late and the two trains from Brooklyn back to my place lured over my head with evil eyes and uncertainty. My feet were aching by this point, and I wasn’t sure if I could run if I had to. Of course, there are ten people in visual distance of me at any given time, but at 2 am that doesn’t feel like enough justification. I took an uber and felt bad- partly because my metro costs me nothing to swipe because I pay by the week and partly because there a girl in my same situation who really can’t afford car fare. But I think those are the only two times I took a car anyway. 

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I eat a lot of rice, bagels, and drink a lot of coffee. There are three other people living in my apartment so the fridge and pantry are crowded and it gives me the illusion of having food in the house, but often times none of it is mine. I really need to remember to go to the grocery store more often. I need to get vegetables. And more sweet chile sauce. It makes me want to eat more rice and I need to remember to eat better in between pancakes, donuts, and curry. 

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I spend a lot of time on my stoop or on my fire escape. The stoop is for roommate bonding time, everyone eating Ben and Jerrys vegan ice cream and laughing into 1 am. The thing about New York is that the nighttime is balmier than the day. I wouldn’t sit out at 2 pm and eat ice cream on my stoop but I do at 2 am. The fire escape is for ukulele strumming, journal writing, and emotional breakdowns. Up in the air things find their ground. Instability feels more stable when you are suspended by wrought iron on the side of a brick building. 

I fall in love a lot, especially on the L train. It’s full of boys with glasses and girls with bangs- and I can’t resist either. Mostly I’m in love with my friends, and I try and remind them how much I love them daily. It’s easier to say after we’ve all sipped some wine and are spinning around the living room, the streets, the subway. Then it’s okay for me to tackle them and shower them with kisses, saying, “DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU!?” 

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I’m not in love in love, in the practical sense, as in I’m not dating, I’m in limbo. Tinder is too foreign and even though I’ve tried I feel shallow and empty minimizing a person to their chosen profile image on a platform rooted in one night stands. I met a boy at a party and a boy at the park but I just want guy friends right now, so I don’t offer my number right away. Maybe when it gets colder, but I’m not in any rush right now. 

Some days I feel too old and some days I feel too young. It oscillates frequently. I see sixteen year olds recklessly, blindly in love and wonder what that’s like. I wonder if I missed out on adventure in my teenage years, like I missed the boat somehow or that stage of growing up, and I’m behind the times. But then I see an artist, a singer, a musician, a woman on the street with wisdom in her eyes, and I feel like I’ve barely started my life and know nothing. I stare into my vanity mirror and mutter “I’m so old.” And then jump on my bed after my roommate unexpectedly brings home ice cream and shout “I’m so young!”

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My wardrobe is entirely thrifted and limited to about 25 pieces. That’s all that fits on my rack and in my short three drawer dresser. I have a favorite pair of jeans and a favorite sweater. I have a ring that I never take off and a collection of cool earrings. If I’m feeling soft and free I put on my houndstooth loose pants and a cable knit turtle neck, maybe even my glasses if I’m going for a walk and don’t have to do computer work (I have an astigmatism in my eye but it usually doesn’t bother me). If I’m feeling like a babe I put on my Jimi tee and thigh high purple suede boots. It’s a killer look, one that I save for special occasions, mostly held in Brooklyn. If I’m feeling girly I wear pink, blush as eyeshadow, dangly earrings, but I have to end it with my vans to ground it and make it feel a bit ironic. If I’m feeling strange I wore what I wore yesterday, because I can’t make decisions right now. 

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I don’t worry about money but I probably should. After I pay rent and have twenty dollars in my bank account, I think, oh! Twenty dollars! Enough for a used book and at least five coffees, depending on where I get them from and if I get almond milk. I should worry more about money, but I don’t spend much anyway, worrying would be senseless. 

I get sad about things that don’t make sense. Today I got sad and felt like I had to clean the house to compensate. Sad is an inadequate word, so I try the best I can to conceptualize my feelings and speak them out. It doesn’t always work, but today I found common ground. I told a friend and she said she was feeling the same. The suspension of childhood and ascension into adult hood, and how being responsible makes you crave recklessness and vice versa. We always feel like we should be doing the opposite of what we are. It’s difficult to settle in and just be. 

And this is me at 20. 

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40 Comments

  1. Kaylah says

    Could not resonate with this MORE. I am 20 years old and feel 10 years younger and 12 years older depending on what day it is. I’m a big flaming ball of messy feelings and beautiful disasters and I’m just learning to love all of it as it is. Thank you for your inspiration, it truly makes a difference to me and so many others.

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  2. Pingback: A Snapshot of Now: At 21 – The Everyday Gal's Blog

    • Anonymous says

      Personally this is my favourite blog post. Simple every day life, when transparent and raw is so powerful. Thank you x

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  3. I feel like you touched on so many points that I have been pondering lately, especially about the “missing out on adventure in my teen years” etc.
    Honestly, this has to be one of my absolute favourite pieces that I have ever read – on both your blog and any other!! I love your style of writing as it instantly makes me feel inspired, not matter what topic you are discussing. So much love x

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  4. Anonymous says

    This is so beautiful. I can totally relate to everything you wrote… Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Love you, hope you’re having a nice day

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  5. Shee-Danielle says

    This is beautiful. You are beautiful. Not in the sense of the perfect hair and smile – although you have those too. In terms of your mind, who you are – what you give to the universe. I love what you have created with The Messy Heads Emma, we need more of you in this world. You inspire me to be more.

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  6. exactly what i needed to hear right now. To feel that i am not alone is this feeling your experiencing too, “Some days I feel too old and some days I feel too young” x

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  7. Rachel says

    This was honest and beautiful. Youth often feels strange to me. It is both a liminal phase and a process that involves the construction of who we will be for the rest of our lives. We get stuck in this awkward space where we’re told that we are both too old to do one thing, yet we are also considered too young to do another. We express our agency through the creation and the consumption of our own culture, but this freedom is also limited because we have not yet reached the status of ‘adult’. Even though I am legally considered an adult, I’m am still viewed as a child to many. I tell myself that I will move past these conflicting emotions yet I know that even when I graduate college in a few months and even when I am completely financially stable I will never escape the struggle of feeling at both ends of this duality. Maybe it’s because youth isn’t actually limited to temporal dimensions. Maybe youth is actually defined by its own commodification which will lead us all to desire its consumption forever.

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  8. I’ve never read something that resonated with me so much. Except of course, that you live in NYC and I live in Ireland. But the feelings are the same. It’s like a hybrid between uncertainty and trying to live in the moment. Beautiful and you’re writing style is infectious.

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  9. “The suspension of childhood and ascension into adult hood, and how being responsible makes you crave recklessness and vice versa. We always feel like we should be doing the opposite of what we are. It’s difficult to settle in and just be.” Pretty much sums up how I’ve been feeling lately.

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  10. liana says

    you are a genius child growing up into a genius adult but either way youre genius.
    simply sublime

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  11. chelsea says

    this is so cool emma x i can totally relate to you with the money issues and I totally need to learn to not worry about it! Love your outlook on life-makes me want to live a little. Much love xxx

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  12. Anonymous says

    i was having a rough day, and like always, i go straight to your blog to make me feel instantly better. to be honest, this post made made me cry because it was just what i needed. your words are so beautiful, emma. and it’s your words that keep me going and inspire me everyday to become a better person.

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  13. Barri-Leigh says

    I’m in a bit of a low right now. Reading this made me remember that it’s okay for nothing to be perfect. Emma, your words are beautiful. Xx

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  14. Anonymous says

    my life is in shambles right now. I’m not sure exactly why, but this was so comforting to read. I feel at peace reading this. Thank you Emma, best wishes to you and your friends.

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  15. Anonymous says

    I can relate so so much, and i’m a year older than you. it’s beautiful in the way life works, and in the way polar opposites exist in a person simultaneously, how they take you over at times, and how at other times, you are carefree. it’s a crazy, head-spinning experience that leaves you wanting some ground, some substance. balance is keyyyy my friend. xo Caitlyn

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  16. Anonymous says

    This was such a beautiful post. I love the way you describe the world around you and how it affects you and just everything. This is pure magic.

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  17. I can relate on so many different levels. It’s nice knowing I’m not the only one ✨🌹

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