I’m not breaking new ground here when I say that reviewing your own past is a curious endeavor that both makes you squirm with unadulterated mortification and pause with intrigued reflection. Last night, a friend and I thought it would be funny to scope out one of my very first diaries: a pink, locked little book with multi-colored pages and strange little bunny and bear characters who seemed to be emulating Hello Kitty without actually being a Sanrio product.
We read out loud from start to finish the details of my personal life at age eight, nine and ten, with not always a lot in common from those ages except my continued need to write down everyone I had a crush on. It didn’t take much: cuteness seemed to play a large factor in crushville, or if I had any physical contact with you in a dance scenario, be it a Bat Mitzvah, the sixth grade dance, or our neighbor’s son’s bedroom (with the door open, mom!).
I admitted in my diary (who I sometimes called Diary and sometimes Dairy, as a young speller is wont to do) to loving a crazily increasing number of boys, who in my recollection all had rattails at one point or another. My friend thought this was all very silly. “Is this how girls think?” he asked time and time again. As we moved on and the lists of boys continued, he said, “You were so boy-crazy!”
And then, as we wrapped up, he said, “I feel like I am holding the precursor to 50/50.”
As I thought more about younger me, I wanted to analyze her motives. What was it that made her want boys to like her? Sure, she seemed to want people to like her in general, but boys in particular. And why did she seem to have so many displaced emotions? It’s not like we didn’t experience love in my family. Perhaps we didn’t outwardly admit to loving each other super often, but it wasn’t as though I ever thought for a nanosecond my parents didn’t love me. So why did younger Alicia have such a craving to be liked? Why were boys the majority of what she wrote about?
It’s funny. I see the parallel between that girl and the me of now – that we were both looking for something real using the tools and capabilities at our disposal. But we’re very different now. Whereas the me of then just wanted to be liked, the me of now would say I want to be understood as a complex being, and liked for that reason. I found something very sad about the whole of younger me’s writing. It was wistful to a point of perhaps being the epitome of that word. It was hopeful and eager, yet unsure.
I have to say, while I’m sure I thought very little about how much I liked myself back then, I appreciate whatever it was that gave me the ability to like myself a lot in the present. Sure, I’m a tad jaded and a bit guarded but I’m still wistful, hopeful and eager, too. Maybe she and I have more in common than I’m giving us credit for.