Brenda Ueland / character / facebook / fear / high school / life / memory / neurotic thinking / popularity / publication / writing

High School, Facebook, and Who the Hell Am I Anyway?

Former high school friends find me on facebook. This happens to everyone who ventures onto fb-land. Maybe this makes you happy.

Most of the people who “friend” me, are nice people. They never did me any particular harm back in school. In some ways, catching up on their lives is good.

But here is the thing. I didn’t lose touch with most of them. No. Lose sounds so accidental, doesn’t it? Well, when I was 2 months away from turning 18, I packed my bags, got on a plane, and looked back reluctantly. I stayed in touch with one friend. One. We’ve stayed in touch for 20 years because she means an entire world to me.

Everyone else, no matter how nice they are, just reminds me of those high school years.

Did you like high school? I don’t understand people who liked high school. I’m 42, and still, to this day, when in my hometown I feel pressure on my chest, and I can’t shake the feeling that I’m going to be unable to leave. This irrational fear lurks in my mind that one day, no matter how far I go, I will end up back there. In which I shall go mad and drink myself to death.

But my hometown helped make me the writer I am today. So. Make of that what you will. I’m reading If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland. So far, so good. She mentions how our personalities are reflected in our writing.

A college friend has a published novel out,(you should read it!), and she mentioned to me how readers would come up to her at different events and talk to her as if they knew her. She, of course, didn’t know the first thing about them. But they felt they knew her because they’d read her book.

Last night I was looking over three stories I’d written, and the mothers in these stories are all horrible. They do terrible things to their children in one way or another. I do not think this means I hate my mother…but should I ever be a successful writer, there is a future college paper that says I do.

If someone read only my fiction, what kind of person would they think me to be? Who are you in your writing? Is it possible to even tell?

Is it just more self-obsession or part of the struggle to understand the self?

11 thoughts on “High School, Facebook, and Who the Hell Am I Anyway?

  1. I get that panicky feeling about college. I don’t like who I was in college, and the college friends who find me on FB only know that person. We have absolutely nothing in common…but they think we do. High school, I can see I was a victim of circumstance if there’s anything terrible there, but college…*shudders*

    I don’t think trying to figure yourself out is self-obsession. Nor is trying to figure out how people see you, although I did hear a bit of wisdom from Ashley Judd: “It’s none of my business what you think of me.”

    • I loved college! I mean, it is done and over and that’s fine. Going back doesn’t interest me. But college was where I started to be me. It was fresh air. It was just so much better than the hell of high school. How did you choose your college? Why did you go there? Perhaps that has something to do with how you feel about it.

      Judd is right! Well, and I suppose it has to do with motivation. I don’t want to change myself to please someone or conform to their opinion. No. And I don’t want to feel bad or angry. But if what someone thinks is thoughtful and insightful, that might be good to know. Maybe not though.

      • If you get the good, you almost have to expect the bad. I chased the good response, changing myself to up the odds of it. I think that’s the point of “none of my business.” It’s a very zen statement, that I am who I am and nobody’s opinion, good or bad, will change me.

        College felt like a chance to remake myself, but not into more of myself. I didn’t even know what that concept was. I wanted to be anybody BUT myself. I let my mom choose my major and I fit myself into that world, rather than the other way around.

  2. Writers are very conscious when they decide to call their work fiction. Readers should respect that. Fiction is fiction. I’ve agonized over the distinction between that and non-fiction and I assume other writers have put that kind of thought into that distinction as well. My non-fiction voice is very different from the multitude of voices I use for fiction. As for high school, I hated it. Most of my classmates are meaningless to me. I don’t care about them or their lives. It was simply an accident that we were thrown together. I, too, have only stayed in touch with one.

    • Readers don’t seem to respect that. Literature classes don’t seem to respect that. So much made of a writers life from what they wrote. I’ve noticed that I tend to write a lot about some real creeps, and once in a while I wonder what this says about how I see men… or how others might think I see men.

      But oh well. I can’t be any other writer than the one i am.

  3. Literature courses don’t respect it because they are taught by presumptuous charlatans obsessed with psychoanalysis, treating the theory as if it were fact and assuming literature is like unconscious dreams to be analyzed. We fictioneers know exactly what we are doing when we create our characters. I don’t believe anyone can know that better than we do.

  4. I read the post above this one (meaning the one you wrote afterwards) and it was all about lying and not being yourself to prove what? that even if the teddybear balloon-holding vase of roses was sitting right in front of you, you still knew it kind of wasn’t there b/c it was based on a lie. YOU saw right through yourself. I’m tremendously glad you did.

    Now I read this one and think about your horrible mothers whilst I have lying on the brain and I can’t help but think of the opener to The Labryinth House“Mercie put on a bright red lipstick. Red was, after all, the best color for lying and that night she had three lies she’d promised to tell. Her mother didn’t think she kept her promises, but she always did.”

    This opener is as dear to my soul as the one from Anna Karenina: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Seriously, both openers have been woven in the fabric of my being.

    You and Tolstoy. Call me sometime when you have doubts about your writing prowess. I’ll set you right.

    Anyway, my own horrible Egg Donor and all those who know her are the very reason I’m not in FB-land. I spent my life trying to get away from them. Why on earth would I want to be found courtesy of some Jesse Eisenberg look-alike’s peevy lilttle project? Oooo, I’m so snooty.

    • SOPHIE! Awesome to see you here again.

      Your love of that opening means the world to me. I can’t think of it (or red lipstick!) and not think of you. Alas, my doubts often tap me on the shoulder or trip me when I walk, but you help me a lot.

      Mostly I’ve liked fb, but there are many reasons to stay free of it. Probably this means you will survive the alien invasion and I will be sucked into the Internet and have my brain removed (no, I do not watch too much Doctor Who).

      And I like your snootiness. It’s the good kind!

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