“A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing and the modern languages, to deserve the word [‘accomplished’]; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions.”
—Caroline Bingley, “Pride and Prejudice”
This column will be the most perfect column of them all. Perhaps, you can tell by the use of such a sophisticated opening quote that this column will accomplish something big. You know that one thing you’re super-passionately opinionated about and nothing could ever slightly alter your perspective on? Prepare for your mind to be eloquently blown via this column. This column will make you really think, and even better, you will sit back and be impressed by the girl whose name is attached to this column.
Or maybe, you won’t. Maybe these words will yield zero results, will have no impact on you, your day or your life; maybe this newspaper won’t even make an audible thump as it hits the bottom of your trash can.
Wait, this isn’t going how I imagined. Would you mind terribly if I start over?
Ahem. So, have you bought the new Taylor Swift album yet? It’s pretty neat … And now is when I realize I actually have nothing of value to say about the Taylor Swift album. This is embarrassing. I think this is what happens when I add a few too many espresso shots to my latte.
Let’s move on, shall we? I have a few other ideas for this column, I actually have a long list of many crazy, life-changing possible topics. In fact, I briefly considered calling this column, “Things I almost wrote my column about.”
Cue the list, with explanations.
Things I almost wrote my column about:
1. “Why parking on campus sucks.” Because everyone can enjoy a good parking rant.
2. “Why we should all give our Christmas presents to our parents.” Because everyone likes a selfless extremist.
3. “Why bagels are the best.” Because everyone loves carbohydrates.
4. “Why anyone who reads this can have my car.” Because I just want you guys to like me.
See, I had a lot of ideas and each one will accomplish a variety of purposes in one fluid string of sentences, and maybe they will make you think I’m really cool.
But alas, I can’t decide. If I choose the wrong route, I fear I will ruin everyone’s day, I will let the team down, a child somewhere will start inexplicably crying and I will end up alone and sad at age forty. In a whirlwind of sentence structure and movie references, I am stuck.
What I really want to say is I have no idea what to write about, no clue what I should type here in order to catch your eyeballs, to pull you along and hand over a small slice of insight that will in some way better the way you view the world. And so I start this column seven different ways, having no idea where the words will lead until I arrive here.
I decide that I will decide on none of these options, none of them are bold enough to really convey that big-ness.
Instead, I will set the scene.
My back is resting inside a chair that feels like an invisible hidden corner in a big room. There’s a Bon Iver song tingling in my ears and with the soft curves of a fire, set in its place, burning into my peripheral.
And I’m thinking that this moment is the sum of a series of chance encounters, of well-timed stoplights, of rainy walks to class, of bad dates and going down the right aisles at the grocery store.
All of it unfolds in a messy, but functional, stack of things I have accomplished and things still on my list. I’m thinking that sometimes the world makes me feel like I could never do enough to please its definitions. I’m thinking about how it’s hard to produce genuinely life-changing words when you’re trying too hard.
I’m thinking about the odd thing that happens when I start to think this way, when I force myself to look for ways to seem interesting or pretty or impressive to others. I’m thinking about how lost I get when I try to earn the title of accomplished and about the exhausting kind of perfection the world has come to applaud I’m thinking that this column would’ve been a lot better if I hadn’t tried to make it perfect.