Last night on my way home from class, hyped up from talking about writing, ideas munching around my brain like little caterpillars, I realised that I’m only twenty-three. Well, for two more months anyway. I’m only twenty-three and it’s okay that I am still a bit of a novice writer, it’s okay that I haven’t read and re-read a lot of books that my class mates have. Like my Mum says, I don’t need to be quite so hard on myself.
See, I have these expectations of myself. I forget how old I am, and disregard how I’ve had relatively few years in which to get things done, and I wonder why I’m not more accomplished at certain things. People I meet think I’m older, because I almost think that of myself I guess, and treat me as such, and then I feel like a fraud because I haven’t read all the books they have so I don’t know what they’re talking about. Nor have I re-read my favourite books more than about once, so I have to sit silent as others talk about the different experiences they’ve had with different readings of the same stories.
Add to that the feeling of guilt that I have when I start reading, as if I should be working on, well, something, and you’ve got a very confused twenty-three-year-old hesitating to pick up a book. I’m not sure when this started. The guilt is only a fairly recent thing. Silly really.
But in realising that I’m only twenty-three, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s stupid of me to think like that. I’ve got years and years ahead of me to read all sorts of things; I shouldn’t beat myself up about what I haven’t read. And I think I can give myself permission to enjoy a book! How liberating.
So I stayed up far too late last night reading ‘The Great Gatsby’ because it dawned on me last weekend that I’ve only ever read about it. Wonderful to be reading before bed again, but I found it very difficult to get out of bed this morning…